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- Type: SPH
- Class: aircraft
- Part Count: 581
- Pure Stock
Grumman F-14 Tomcat
The F-14 Tomcat is one of the most iconic U.S. fighters, ranking along the P-51 Mustang, F-86 Sabre, and the F-4 Phantom in the lists of the greatest fighters of all time. Its wide versatility, immediately recognizable swing-wing, and appearance in Top Gun add to its appeal. In the air, the F-14 was a Mach 2.2, carrier based fighter-bomber designed with experience fighting MiGs in Vietnam. As a capable dogfighter, the F-14 earned 160 kills versus only 10 losses to enemy fire in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
The F-14 was designed as a replacement to the Navy’s sub-par F-111B Aardvark, based around a potent combination of more powerful engines and radar, plus AIM-54 missiles. The result was a powerful air-superiority fighter that was only phased out of service in 2006, after 30 years of service.
A true multipurpose fighter
The F-14, while primarily a naval fighter, was used in many different roles during its long lifetime. It first gained notoriety as an extremely powerful large dogfighter, protecting carrier forces across the world. Additionally, it was designed as a potent interceptor. Later versions would use the Tomcat as ground-attack platforms as well as aerial reconnaissance platforms.
Tomcats could carry a number of weapons or systems tailored to the role. Pictured above is the long-range intercept loadout, featuring four AIM-54 Phoenix (center), two AIM-7 Sparrow (inner pylon), and two AIM-9 Sidewinder (outer pylon, as well as two drop tanks. This loadout limited maneuverability in dogfights, but could kill from beyond visual range.
True to the F-14s roots as an interceptor, I chose to replicate the most varied loadout for interception. As discussed to the left, this Tomcat is loaded out for the long-range interception role, and features four AIM-54 Phoenix, two AIM-7 Sparrow, and two AIM-9 Sidewinder, plus two drop tanks. The AIM-7 and AIM-9 are unguided solid-rocket missiles, fired in pairs by the staging. The AIM-54 are more complicated, as they are homing air-to-air missiles. Begin spooling up the jet engine by staging once. Stage again to drop off a pair of missiles. Then switch to them, set target and use SAS to hold to target. They will then home in on the target, and are more than capable of destroying a craft in one hit. For the best probability of a hit, try to be about at least a kilometer behind your target, on roughly the same heading.
Flying the F-14
In addition to the accurate weapons loadout, I spent a lot of time making sure that the craft would look and function the same as an actual F-14. The variable incidence wings are fully functional, and are actuated by action groups. This is mostly non-problematic, and the wings dock back without incident, provided that the transition is done in level flight.
The focus for this project was extreme visual accuracy, so the craft is extremely draggy. Because of this, expect top speeds of about 100m/s with afterburner, and about 170 with burners lit. I expect that it will perform much better in FAR, but have not tested it.
Fitting to the real Tomcat, this replica is significantly more maneuverable with wings forward, and a bit faster with the wings swept.
Action groups and more info
1 - sweep wings backward
2 - sweep wings forward
9 - toggle engines
0 - toggle afterburner
RCS - body spoilers + Flaps
ABORT - tailhook
G - gear + gear bays
If the wings get stuck or fail to dock, you may have to look in the mechanism to see what happened. If the docking ports are close to aligned but don’t latch, manually adjust the slider on the airbrakes to move it into position. In some cases, particularly swinging wings in high-g maneuvers, the RCS balls making up the hinge pop out of their housing. If this happens, you lose control of the wing, but the plane is still flyable. Most of the control comes from the tail elevator, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to keep control of the plane.
- Removed thrust vectoring
- Upped to 6 Panthers
- Added flaps and more tail control
- changed position of AIM-54 sepatrons
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