Incredible Lecture By F-14 Designer Explains Why The Tomcat Owes A Lot To The F-111

The presentation is one of the best ever on the F-14’s genesis and the incredible technological leap it brought to modern air combat.

byTyler Rogoway|
F-111 photo


Last year, we posted a video of a downright awesome lecture by test pilot Paul Metz, the only person to fly both the YF-23 and the F-22. That event was put on by the Western Museum Of Flight in Torrance, California, with a seniors group in attendance publishing the presentation online. Very unique insights were had on the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program and why the YF-23 lost to the YF-22. Now we have another video to share from the same group. This one features retired Northrop Grumman Vice President and F-14 Tomcat designer Mike Ciminera, who explains just how innovative and big a push forward technologically the Tomcat really was. It is among the very best videos on the Tomcat I have ever seen. 

Ciminera starts with a short overview of the dawn of swing-wing technology and moves to the F-111B debacle that gave birth to the VFX program in the late 1960s. The VFX would become the F-14 Tomcat. Ciminera notes that his team of designers made over 6,000 design

configurations as part of their effort to come up with the winning airframe for the VFX competition. He then goes into detail on the menagerie of flight control surfaces and fairings that were used to make the huge jet maneuver like a nimble fighter and also fly at high speed over long distances while loaded with missiles. 

The storied aerospace executive underlines the evolutionary relationship between the F-14 and the F-111 and just how big of a leap in swing-wing design the F-14 was even though it was developed, first flew, and was operational within a decade of the F-111 doing the same. Even the differences in the two types' complex air inlet systems are discussed. Ciminera then goes into the weapon systems on the Tomcat, including how the E-2 Hawkeye and F-14 Tomcat became an uncannily capable team that allowed for new tactics and procedures to be implemented that were not possible before the Tomcat hit the fleet. He also gives commentary on a company montage video and in the question and answer period it really hits home just how amazing a feat the Tomcat's design was, especially in terms of its complex swing-wing configuration. 

Ciminera fully attests that the advent of the F-14 as we know it would not have been at all possible without the existence of the F-111 and a helping hand from the General Dynamics team that designed it:

"We learned from the F-111B... Without the F-111B we wouldn't have been this smart." 

Check out the fascinating lecture in full below: 

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If you want to see where the Tomcat was set to evolve to if it was funded over the Super Hornet, check out our exclusive feature where we bring the Super Tomcat 21 to life by clicking here.

Author's note: A hat tip to my friend @thenewarea51 for the heads up on this aviation history gem!

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