Made famous by the movie “Top Gun,” the F-14 Tomcat is the last of Grumman’s “Cat” series of Naval fighters which began with the F4F Wildcat in the 1930s. The F-14 grew out of the failed attempt to turn the F-111 into a carrier-based interceptor. Design work on the Tomcat began in 1967, a full year before the F-111B was canceled. It adopted the best elements of that design including the AN/AWG-9 radar and Phoenix missile, twin engines, and a variable geometry “swing” wing and combined them into a large, twin-tailed form that became the symbol of American naval aviation from the 1970s through the first years of the Twenty-first Century. Tomcats entered service on the USS Enterprise in 1974 and flew some of the last American combat missions over Vietnam while providing air cover over Saigon during the American evacuation in April 1975. Small numbers of F-14s were sold to Iran in the years just before the Iranian Revolution. The Tomcat was retired from U.S. Navy service in 2006 due to rising costs of operation. The Iranian Air Force has retained their Tomcats in service long past their retirement in the United States.
Fighter Squadron 111 (VF-111), USS Kitty Hawk, 1979
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