F-14 Tomcat

THE STORY OF CHRISTINE, THE LONGEST SERVING F-14 TOMCAT IN THE U.S. NAVY

While F-14 BuNo. 159600 was participating in the Tomcat’s final cruise a bulkhead would blow out during routine maintenance and the aircraft would spend most of the next few months in the hangar earning the nickname “Christine” after the Stephen King thriller

The F-14 BuNo. 159600, better known among Tomcat lovers as Christine, is getting some bling at Forth Worth Aviation Museum.

“We are doing a basic repaint of the same livery she was in when we acquired her 10 years ago,” said Jim Hodgson, the museum Executive Director, to The Aviation Geek Club.

This F-14 was originally a Grumman F-14A-85-GR Tomcat and was manufactured by Grumman Aerospace in Calverton, New York. She would be delivered to the US Navy on Jul. 16, 1975.

This was the longest serving F-14 Tomcat in the U.S. Navy.

Much of her early career would be spent training nugget Tomcat crews in both the east and west coast Fleet Readiness Squadrons; VF-124 Gunfighters at Naval Air Staion (NAS) Miramar, VF-101 Grim Reapers at NAS Oceana.

In the 1983-84 timeframe, the aircraft arrived at VF-14 Tophatters (as “AE 104”) who operated the aircraft until 1988. The Tomcat then joined VF-142 Ghostriders (“AG 206”).

In 1990 the aircraft arrived at the now closed Naval Aviation Depot (NADEP) Norfolk, Virginia, for conversion into an F-14D (serial number DR-5).

Emerging in 1994 as the fifth remanufactured D model Tomcat, 159600 would rejoin the fleet in 1994 with VF-2 Bounty Hunters (as “NE 115”) at NAS Miramar. Noteworthy during this tour, NAS Miramar transferred to the Marine Corps and VF-2 relocated to NAS Oceana.

AircraftProfilePrints.com is offering a commemorative 40″ x 16″ special edition print in order to support the maintenance of Christine since her recovery. Proceedings of these sales go to Forth Worth Aviation Museum helping their efforts. Each print is individually numbered and donor’s name is also included with the serial number on every print – making it a personalized memorabilia. This way you can own a bit of Tomcat history and do your contribution in preserving her for future generations to see. CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

By 1994, the aircraft was flying with VF-2 Bounty Hunters (as “NE 115”) at NAS Miramar. During this tour, NAS Miramar transferred to the Marine Corps and VF-2 relocated to NAS Oceana.

In 2003, she would return to her roots and once again serve in Fleet Readiness Squadron VF-101 Grim Reapers. In 2004, the aircraft returned to VF-2 (as “NE 100”) before being assigned again to VF-101 (which operated the aircraft as “AD-160”).

The following year, 159600 would be assigned to VF-31 Tomcatters where she would remain until the Tomcat’s retirement in September 2006.

While participating in the Tomcat’s final cruise from September 2005 to March 2006, 159600 would suffer a structural failure. During routine maintenance a bulkhead would blow out and she would spend most of the next few months in the hangar, earning her the nickname “Christine” after the Stephen King thriller.

Through a dedicated and determined maintenance effort, 159600 would be repaired. Once returned to flight status 159600 would become a squadron workhorse for the remainder of the deployment, a testament to both her Grumman “Ironworks” legacy and the fine men and women who have maintained the F-14 Tomcat.

The 709th Airlift Squardron from Dover, Del., prepares to use an electronic winching system to guide the last F-14 Tomcat from Fighter Squadron Thirty One (VF-31) into position on board a C-5 Galaxy at Naval Air Station Oceana. Following hours of maneuvering the Tomcat into place, the C-5 transported the Tomcat to its new home at the Fort Worth Aviation Museum, Texas.

The aircraft then arrived in Fort Worth aboard a Lockheed C-5A Galaxy on Mar. 3, 2007.

After more than 30 years of service, F-14D(R) 159600 would finish her career with the singular distinction of being the longest serving F-14 Tomcat in the U.S. Navy’s inventory, and proudly earn the right to claim “Anytime, Baby”!

Special thanks to Jim Hodgson – Fort Worth Aviation Museum Executive Director

Additional thanks to Richard Garrett for having provided essential details about the beloved Christine

Photo credit: Fort Worth Aviation Museum and Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason R. Zalasky / U.S. Navy

Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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