The interesting photos in this post feature some computer-made images and a desk model of the iconic F-14 Tomcat wearing the livery of the two US Military aerobatic teams, the Blue Angels, and the Thunderbirds.
The interesting photos in this post feature some computer-made images and a desk model of the iconic F-14 Tomcat wearing the livery of the two US Military aerobatic teams, the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, and the U.S. Air Force Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds.
The F-14 was actually considered to replace Blue Angels’ F-4s.
After a series of accidents and maintenance problems with their McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantoms in the 1973 air show season, the Blue Angels stood down for an overview of the program by the Secretary of the Navy, John Warner (who would later serve six terms in the US Senate representing the state of Virginia). Warner appointed a panel of six senior flag officers to review the Blue Angels program and they unanimously recommended its continuation as “prime recruiting asset.”
As told by Nicholas A. Veronico in his book The Blue Angels a Fly-By History, Ken Wallace, 1954-55 slot pilot and 1961-63 team leader, was called upon to guide the team through rough waters. Wallace was serving in the office of the chief of naval operations as the tactical air plans officer. “Because of my past association with the Blue Angels, whenever anything that concerned them came up, I was rung in on it in some way,’ he said.
According to Wallace “the Secretary of the Navy was not fully supportive of keeping the team. Admiral Zumwalt, who was chief of naval operations and not an aviator, was very much insistent on keeping the team in business. So he and I went to chat with the Secretary of the Navy. The Secretary agreed to keep it in business, but we had to change airplanes. He would not let us continue with the F-4s-partially due to the crashes, and at this point we were in the fuel crunch of the mid-1970s. The F-4 is not an economical airplane on fuel, and it is a heavy maintenance airplane. It was just a little bit too visible for the times.”
Given the job of program manager for the Blue Angels, Wallace had his work cut out for him. Drawing on his previous experience with the team, he would implement many far-reaching changes. “I started casting about for a different airplane. The airplane that I really wanted was the F-14,’ he said. “I did not want an F-14 with all the weapons control systems in it; that was wasteful.” After proposing his idea to Grumman, they decided that it would cost more to make an airplane without the systems than it would to make one with them. Cost became the determining factor, and the F-14 idea went by the wayside.
Instead we don’t have any detail about the photo showing an F-14 desk model (and featured in Doug Richardson’s book Grumman F-14 Tomcat) with Thunderbirds livery. As we know Grumman built a mock-up of the so called “ADCOM F-14” created in response to an U.S. Air Force (USAF) proposal to replace the Convair F-106 Delta Dart as an Aerospace Defense Command (ADCOM) interceptor in the 1970s.
To meet this need, Grumman developed an F-14B Tomcat Interceptor variant, with a single example in mock-up form produced in 1972. The modifications included changes to the missile launchers and increased internal fuel capacity, but little interest was shown and the project quickly died.
Eventually the USAF bought standard F-15As.
The photo of the Tomcat desk model featuring the Thunderbirds livery along with some pictures of the ADCOM F-14 mock-up are all that remain of the proposed USAF air defence Tomcat.
Photo credit: David Tipps via Pinterest and Grumman