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The F-14 Tomcat Retires

Tomcat! painting by Dru Blair © 1991 - http://www.drublair.com

The venerable naval fighter jet, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, has been put out to pasture. Entering service in 1974, its unique swing-wing design allowed this huge and very heavy fighter to take off from tiny carrier decks. The designers of this plane packet it with absolutely everything, from an extremely powerful Hughes radar, a 20mm cannon, advanced avionics, and Phoenix, Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles. The last Tomcat will leave service and make its final landing at the Virginia Aviation Museum on September 28.

The Tomcat was never really battle-tested. Its most famous encounter came in the Gulf of Sidra, where it splashed a couple of hopelessly outclassed Su-22 jets of the Libyan air force in 1981.

The Tomcat has been replaced by the cheaper and more flexible F/A-18 Hornet. "The aging Tomcat requires 40 or more hours of maintenance for a single hour of flight, says Seth, executive officer for the "Tomcatters" of Fighter Squadron 31. The Super Hornet requires less than half that maintenance time."

The U.S. naval mission is in excellent hands with the Hornet. But, damn, does any plane look cooler than the F-14?

Posted by Ken McCracken · 22 September 2006 02:06 PM


It was actually designed specifically to carry the Phoenix missile.

I'll miss em.

Posted by: John at September 22, 2006 03:27 PM

As far as I can recall, the F-14 is the only platform that carried the Phoenix, because they need the Hughes radar.

Posted by: Ken McCracken at September 22, 2006 04:40 PM

That is so cool. I love the water behind it...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at September 22, 2006 06:05 PM

Best Tom Cruise movie ever made. I bet he damned near needed to take antidepressants over Goose getting killed. =) And now this? How is he going to request a fly by?

Posted by: Justin B at September 23, 2006 03:47 AM

Be careful of the Hornet Kool-aid...its a less capable fighter than the Tomcat and a less capable bomber than the Intruder which served as our best praise for the F/A-18, it was a better bomber than the F-14 and a better fighter than the A-6.

Posted by: Mike at September 25, 2006 08:58 AM

Flew against the Tomcat during F-15 flight tests. Great plane! As for Top Gun, the only things that acted in that movie were the planes. And Tom Cruise as a fighter pilot? Gaaaaaaaah!

Posted by: Da Coyote at September 25, 2006 01:10 PM