Having been on that firstTomcat cruise, engine problems were an issue. We did a line period in the Indian Ocean that was supposed to culminate in a Tomcat demo for the Shah of Iran (to help sell him on buying the plane). Time came for the show and it got cancelled. Before the word came out on the cx, I had been helping one of the F-14 ae troubleshooters find some electrical parts in our spares (I was an A-6 ae ts) and he mentioned we weren’t going to do the show for the Shah because they only had 3 up Tomcats between the two squadrons, mostly because of engine stuff.
Toss in all the losses due to engine ‘failures’ that cruise ... hard to say they weren’t really an issue.
Cant deny they weren’t fun to watch during flight ops after the F-4s the previous cruise, though.