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Geoff M

F-14 - Why is it so popular?

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This is something I have been trying to put my finger on.  It isn't like a Spitfire or a Mustang or perhaps a Phantom II that got their credentials in combat not to mention they are great looking aircraft. .  Correct me if I am wrong but the F-14 has 4 shoot-downs to its credit.  Hardly an ace-maker.  However the kit makers keep making new kits of this aircraft.  I don't have anything against it myself.  I like the Tomcat a lot, and I have the kits to prove it but I don't know why I am attracted to it.  It does present a multitude of colorful markings. It was a ground breaking aircraft in its day.  There is "Top Gun" the movie.  Maybe Hollywood helped its image.  What draws you to the F-14?

 

Geoff M 

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When I was a kid in the 80's it was by far the coolest looking thing out there next to the SR-71.

Edited by fulcrum1

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Good question, but I fell in love with it in the early 80's before Top Gun even came out. It's just got something...think in the 70's they would have said it's got "IT." My heart forever went to that marvelous machine before I knew anyone else even heard of it, so it's not like I was following a trend. 

 

And it's got 5 kills, not 4 :) 

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Yeah, as a kid I think I first really noticed the F-14 from the film Final Countdown - pretty sure I went right out and got a kit of it - just thought it was so cool. A ton of great squadron markings, impressive loadout etc.

 

Sure it didn't get a ton of kills but I guess im good that it never really had to face what it was designed for (basically world war III with the Soviets.) Though regarding kills, how about Iran's F-14s? 

 

PS the A-6 is cooler :P

Edited by Petrov27

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yeah, murph, two movies...but why those movies on the tomcat instead than on another aircraft?

i was born back in the tubes era, always been an avio fan, but actualy geoff's observation puts on focus a period, in which the f-14 was really pushed to the attention of the general public, not only aviation buffs.

as such, i remember images, magazines, tv, the news, the papers...well everything seemed to have been imbued with tomcats.

and i live in italy, can imagine in the u.s.!

sure, it was an outstanding aircraft, had the swing-wing, was powerful, potently armed and actually represented the all-in-one air superiority, the ultimate defender of the fleet.

...and curiously it came after the disaster of the joint fighter tfx program, another devstating idea of that saboteur (always suspected him to be a soviet infiltrator) who answers to the name of robert s. mcnamara.

now, the guy was fortunately off office, but i presume that many politicians and admirals were eager to show off their creature, precisely, and all the more so, as it derived from the f-111b flop they were hungry to hush and hide.

so i believe that "top-gunners" were substantially funded by the navy and politics, and the image of the tomcat -with all due respect for a great machine!-was officially and advertising-wise pushed on a lot.

this is the part of the f-14 i prefer to conceal, because i, too, when think or watch a tomcat i feel something enthusiastic in my stomach, and i am an affectionate supporter and admirer of the "defender of the fleet".

sorry i went a bit off-track, but i believe that it was worth to have a look also in this perspective.

best ciaos, and happy modeling! apropos, today i have finished my 1/72 hasegawa tom patton's skyraider!!! triple wow!!!:cheers:

p.s.: and, ziggy, and all the others who so nicely participated, the wheel doors' edges are RED! :thumbsup:

 

Edited by Bobo1953
p.s.

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Movies and the Gulf of Sydra, this air to air combat incedent kind of ended the US post Vietnam syndrome.

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Bobo1953 - Actually, the Tomcat had a very turbulent political beginning. It was almost cancelled. I went back and read some of the things that were said about it and Grumman. Guess what they sound exactly like? If you said the F-35, you'd be correct. The Tomcat essentially killed Grumman's relationship with the US government. They didn't get new engines for 17 years, and it was well known that the TF-30 was inferior. When it came time to replace the A-6, Grumman proposed an upgraded, advanced version of the Tomcat. The Sec. of Defense, Dick Cheney, saw fit to pick the Super Hornet instead, even going so far as to have the tooling for the F-14 destroyed. Now, to the point of why the Tomcat is so popular. In my estimation, these are the reasons it has such a big fan base. It's big. It's fast. It looks "cool". It carries a lot of missiles. It's got great markings. It has been in movies because it was the main fighter of the time. That led to even more popularity. My love of the Tomcat came before I ever watched Topgun. I saw the movie Final Countdown and read the book Cutting Edge. That sold me on the Tomcat from then on. I talked to a pilot who flew both the Tomcat and the Super Hornet. He said that the Tomcat was like a muscle car and the Super Hornet was like a modern sports car. He said the bottom line, though, was that if everything was working on the Tomcat, nothing to could touch it. That's where the lack of money for upgrades really hurt keeping the Tomcat relevant. 

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3 minutes ago, 305swag said:

Movies and the Gulf of Sydra, this air to air combat incedent kind of ended the US post Vietnam syndrome.

Don't forget the Achillo Lauro hijackers getting "hijacked" by VF-103 and VF-74.

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Why is the F-14 so popular, simple, there are two types of aircraft in the world, Tomcat's and targets, which one do you want to build a model of.:smiley-transport006:

 

Had the pleasure of working on the aircraft for 14+ years and working around it for 3 year. Having worked on the Hornet and Super Hornet, I'd take a Tomcat any day over those glorified Lego kits.

Edited by GW8345

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It's gotta be the TV Series JAG. I mean Harmon Rabb a Lawyer and Tomcat Pilot....Icing on the cake!

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I first saw her fly, at NAS Willow Grove, PA., back in 76 or 78 as a 13 or 15 year old boy. I immediately feel in love with her. She was big, flames shooting out the exhausts on take off and the wings moved !! There was just something about this aircraft, she had a presence about her, like Andrew said earlier, she had it. I consider myself fortunate to have seen her fly for most of her career. If there was ever a Tomcat Demo at an airshow that I attended, I ALWAYS watched the entire demo, to me it never got boring. To me the F-15, F-16 and the  F-18 demos are all boring, but that's just me.

I'm now 54 years of age, served 20 years in the USAF and, have visited a lot of bases doing photo shoots including many, many trips to NAS Oceana to photograph Tomcats. I' ve had the opportunity to sit in Tomcats and it's humbling. To look around you and see the sheer size of her and think about how the aircrew throws her around in flight is pretty amazing. I guess that's why I've been pouring my heart and soul into my 1/18th scale Tomcat conversion, to show respect for such an iconic Naval aircraft that influenced me as a young boy.

 

Steve

" TOMCATS FOREVER, BABY !"

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umm, one small thing about the theory that the Tomcat was "picked" for the movies.

 

Both movies were made when the Tomcat was the frontline fighter,,,,,,if Top Gun would have been done earlier, they would have used Phantoms as the fighters. Same thing with Final Countdown,,,if it had been done sooner, and still used the Nimitz, that also would have been Phantoms as the fighter jet.

 

So, it wasn't advertising,,,it was just timing, if either were done today they would be filmed with deckloads of itty bitty Hornets, and big huge Hornets.

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The F-14 was about as historically relevant as the Cutlass.   

 

Hollywood created the hype and millions of American teens answered the call. 

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Partially for me, it's bias. I had a family member fly F-14s from 1990 to the end. Even so, that wasn't enough. Growing up, I was more fan of the F/A-18, because I have always appreciated multirole. I really became a hardcore Tomcat fanatic once they started putting bombs on it. There's more to combat than killing enemy planes. Towards the end there it became a real workhorse jet. The F-14 formed the primary core of any strike package. It could loiter for long periods and provide CAS, armed reconnaissance, and precision strike in addition to its incredible and barely used air-to-air capabilities. It was hardly a historically irrelevant airframe.

 

Those abilities aside, it possesses a sleek, aesthetic appearance. A lot of jet fighters look good, but Tomcats aren't just attractive airplanes; they're sexy, like a classic car. It's a cool factor beyond the space-age slickness of the F/A-18 or F-16, or the brutish power of the F-4 or F-8. It's something in between, and it's a mix that works well.

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I have no thoughts on its level of popularity and not much of a foundation to create any on, but I can tell you of my interest in it.

Let's start with when I first learned of Tomcat - I no longer know. Dad was in USN and had begun in flight training but eventually had to give up being a pilot on account of eyesight issues which popped up.

He continued civil flying for several years. His dad, Grandad, was a civil pilot for a number of years. So, aviation interest was part of the family. Dad received a couple aviation magazines and occasionally purchased a few other titles. I probably learned of F-14 from those; but, first documentable source was a book Mom & Dad gave me for either Christmas or Birthday, and I still have it, is on page 39 of 1973 book, Aircraft, an All Colour Story of Modern Flight, by David Mondey.
Quoting part of the section,
 

Quote

The first of these, fighter sweep/escort, involves clearing contested airspace of enemy fighters, as well as protecting the strike force. Its second role will be to defend the carrier task forces, and the third to attack ground tactical targets. It was scheduled to enter service with the fleet in 1973.

 

Photo appears to be one of the prototypes with orange vertical stabs with numeral 2 in black on outboard side of each.

Going by that text, it appears to have been intended to be bomb capable since the beginning.

 

To a schoolboy the swing wings were a really-really cool feature and that was part of the appeal. So was that it was a Grumman and Grummans were Dad's favorite aircraft and we had a canoe by that same Grumman.

And to my mind it just plain had nice lines and looked a little bit lean, hungry, and predatory on the ground even with all the doors and flaps hanging in the breeze, sort of like a landed raptor sorting its feathers back in to place.

On the other hand, my other 2 favorite fighters were the solid and chunky F-4 Phantom and SAAB Viggen.

So, it has been since at least 1973 that I have known of and liked the Tomcat.

Also inhabiting this home is a rescue tabby named Grumman, he was found hit and near dead at side of rural highway but kept living despite the damage; eventually healed, not quite completely good as new, but is still in action.
Sure sounds like a Grumman fighter to me. :)

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1 hour ago, 11bee said:

The F-14 was about as historically relevant as the Cutlass.   

 

Hollywood created the hype and millions of American teens answered the call. 

I'll have to respectfully disagree. The Cutlass barely saw squadron service. The Tomcat served for almost 40 years. You also have many, many pilots who flew the Tomcat and loved it. You can also ask the Iraqi's how relevant it was. Why did the F-15's get so many kills? From the mouth of an F-15 driver (paraphrased). "We would set up our kill box and wait. The F-14 would light up Iraqi jets with their radar, and the Iraqi's, remembering what had happened during the previous war with Iran, would turn tail and run right into our kill box. It was like shooting fish in a barrel." The Tomcat was never meant to be an air superiority fighter. It was meant to defend the fleet. It did it's job extremely well, and adapted to other roles as well. Even in OIF and OEF, it was the go-to jet for long range strike missions. 

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6 hours ago, okthree said:

Because it's effing awesome. 

There are four Libyan pilots that can attest to that......if they're still around.

 

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like any other vehicle; the shape of the design is pleasing on the eye to those who like the kitty. folks fortunate enough to hear the sound of it's engines could probably add more to the feeling. from a modelling perspective the vast amount of tailart and the amount of dirt it can accumulate would make it an ideal candidate for an interesting build despite being mostly of gray colors with a couple of adversary camo, also a wide enough array of loadout's possible in a single airframe - what else do you need more?

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50 minutes ago, Darren Roberts said:

 The Tomcat was never meant to be an air superiority fighter.

The Naval Aviation Museum disagrees with that.

Quote
Type: Carrier-based air superiority fighter.

And

Quote

" The Navy's search for an advanced carrier-based air superiority fighter led to evaluation of General Dynamics' F-111B, an aircraft that would promote the Department of Defense's aim of commonality with the Air Force and its F-111A. The F-111B, having been modified to meet Navy mission requirements, was deemed too heavy for carrier operations and the contract was cancelled in April 1968. Subsequently, the Navy inaugurated a new design contest for what was termed the VFX program, the two primary competitors being McDonnell Douglas and Grumman. "

http://www.navalaviationmuseum.org/attractions/aircraft-exhibits/item/?item=f-14a_tomcat_flightline  

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1 hour ago, Darren Roberts said:

 The Tomcat was never meant to be an air superiority fighter.

NASA disagrees with you too.

Quote

the US Navy selected Grumman to continue with the VFAX/VFX program that would become the F-14 Tomcat, the first dedicated US Navy air superiority design since the F-8 Crusader.

https://crgis.ndc.nasa.gov/historic/Test_255:_F-14A_Aerodynamics_Model_1/16_Scale

 

So does a January 7, 1971, issue of Flight International / Flight Global

https://www.flightglobal.com/FlightPDFArchive/1971/1971 - 0031.PDF

I know 30 and 40 year old documentation is out there, it is just a question of has someone posted it to the web since none of those three and four decade old magazines are on hand.

Quote

Although the first Grumman F-14 Tomcat came to grief on its second test flight through hydraulics system failure on December 30, both pilots ejecting safely, there is no  doubt that the US Navy will get out of this pro-gramme the air superiority fighter it needs.

... This new fighter-—the F-14—is under way. It is an air-superiority weapon system designed around a combat weapon load of four Sparrows, the air-to-air missile currently  used on the F-4

 

Edited by southwestforests

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Huge F-14 fan, so this will sound biased, but the Tomcat is the sum of many things that makes it so popular:

 

1) As a kid, nothing seemed cooler than a jet with swing wings and twin tails. The F-15 didn't swing and looked somewhat anemic compared to the 14, while the F-111 lacked the twin tails. The Tornado didn't arrive till later, and still can't compete on pure aesthetic beauty vs Tomcat even though I like the Tornado too.

 

2) Also examine the profile and you notice a gooseneck-cranked fuselage that sits lower in the rear giving it a more aggressive look like a cheetah getting ready to pounce on its prey. Compare to an F-15 or F-18, which have basically straight fuselages and stand upright when parked. From the front, you notice inward-angled air inlets and high shoulder-mounted wings that give it a more aggressive look, like an American football lineman with full shoulder pads in a 3-point stance. And even the wide-stance, beefy landing gear gives it a more powerful look than most other aircraft. Only the A-6 comes close in landing gear coolness.

 

3) Though the Phoenix system may not have been as reliable as advertised, those massive missiles also helped the Tomcat's image as the ultimate air-air weapons platform.

 

4) The F-14 also had a monopoly on cool squadron markings and names: Wolfpack, Sundowners, Jolly Rogers, Pukin' Dogs, Aardvarks, to just name a few. Each one was different and showed off the colors and markings in pure awesomeness. The Phantom laid the groundwork, but the F-14 took it to another level. Even the F-18, which inherited some of the squadrons later on, hasn't been able to match the flamboyance of the F-14.

 

5) Even in the anime/Sci-fi arena, the F-14 was the inspiration for Macross/Robotech variable mecha and introduced kids to the plane thru that route.

 

6) The F-14's "Anytime, Baby" cockiness must have also contributed to its popularity.

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