Skip to comments.F-111B - a victim of the air war over Vietnam
Posted on 12/08/2010 12:19:05 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
F-111B - a victim of the air war over Vietnam
By Greg Waldron on December 8, 2010
The retirement of Australia's F-111Cs last week ended the long story of a successful, and iconic, long range bomber. Many forget, however, that US Navy's version of the aircraft, the F-111B, was a failure.
The F-111B was big like the F-111C, though it had a stubbier nose to make carrier landings easier. Conceived as pure fighter (the naval version of the Tactical Fighter Experimental) in the early sixties, it would not need a gun. The F-111B's AWG-9 pulse doppler radar and Phoenix missiles (120lb warhead, 100 mile + range) would ensure that nothing could get near it - ever.
The air war over Southeast Asia, however, ended all hope for the F-111B. In that war nimble (and cheap) Migs and their guns proved a serious problem for big American fighters and their advanced missiles - which, to be fair, often failed to work properly in the humid and hot combat conditions. The best performing US fighter of the war was probably the old F-8 Crusader with super manoeuvrability, ample power, and four 20mm cannons.
Extensive trials showed the F-111B's manoeuvrability to be inferior to that of the F-4 Phantom, the plane it was designed to replace on carrier decks. It proved to be yet another peacetime weapons system condemned by the unforgiving realities of war.
The F-14 Tomcat was eventually adopted as the premiere carrier fighter, reigning on carrier decks for three decades, before finally being retired in 2006.
Video of F-111B trials
F14 = Same engines as F111 - Just a purpose designed airframe
JSF = another cookie cutter aircraft using 1 engine fromm the F-22 development. ( And not the best part )
Another of McNamara’s gifts to the US military.
Any time, Baby.
Amen to that. One of his other gifts was the DDG of that era. In heavy seas a DDG had problems keeping up with the carriers it was supposed to protect.
Ask Ghaddafi what he thinks of the FB-111’s
The goes on and on:
- Scrapped Naval list for ships & aircraft,
- Replaced service numbers with Social Security numbers,
- Imposed F-111, DDG, M-16 and missiles that failed,
- Forced common uniform buying down to underwear & socks,
and the biggest sin of all,
- Stopped manufacture of Kiwi Marine Brown shoe polish!
That is definitely McNamara "best and the brightest" "thinking"; much along the same lines as not needing conventional forces since we'd have plenty of ICBMs. Leave it to an academic to be theoretically correct and in reality dead wrong.
Missile technology and ROE did not support the missileer concept. The previous design was for a straight wing loitering aircraft that would simply fire the Phoenix missiles from afar and never engage in close combat. Vietnam experience killed that.
In fact, the F-14’s capability as a fighter was greatly limited by the design requirement to carry six Phoenix missiles.
The trouble in a sense is that no distinction is made between a fighter and an interceptor. The F-14 was an interceptor that could be forced into a fighter role.
Hitler thought the ME-262 should have been a bomber too.
Clueless people should leave engineering to the engineers.
... which was why one of the F-111's nicknames was the "Flying Edsel" after one of McNamara's gifts to Ford Motor.
The F-14 was designed to operate w/ the GE 110 engine. The P & W TF-30 (which the military had lots of thank to the F-111) was foisted upon the US Navy by politics. The TF-20 was a true POS!
I mean TF-30.
He wouldn't have any opinion about the FB-111s, because he was only visited by F-111Fs.
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That was also the thinking behind the F-4 Phantom II. It didn't have an internal gun either, only an optional external gun pod. Then the 366 TFW "The Gunfighters" showed how effective and necessary a gun was in Vietnam. (See How the Gunfighers Got Their Name) After that, the later models of the F-4 had an internal gun.
The F-111 did in fact have a gun, at least the USAF versions did. It was the good old M61A1 that could optionally be mounted in the weapons bay in place of one of the weapons bay doors. Ironically, even though the 366th TFW later flew the F-111F, then the F-111A, (and continued to be known as "The Gunfighters,") they never used the gun in combat. It was later dropped altogether from all F-111s.
Fast forward about 50 years, and today's F-35B and F-35C (the STOVL and Naval variants) do not have an internal gun, only an optional extertnal gun pod. The USAF F-35A does have an internal gun. History repeats itself?
In a former life I did a seven month Med Cruise on the USS Inchon(LPH-12), last of the LPH class. It was a McNamara special, built of the hull, boilers and elevator of the former USS Boxer. Around the 15 kt range, one could always know how fast we were going based on how much it vibrated. The more vib the faster we were going.
Ah yes the nugget killer, followed by it’s brother the Harrier, smaller nugget killer.