US Navy F-14 test pilot recalls when his Tomcat was scorched after a Mach 2+ test sortie

US Navy F-14 test pilot recalls when his Tomcat was scorched after a Mach 2+ test sortie

By Dario Leone
Apr 6 2024
Share this article

The F-14 Tomcat

The F-14 Tomcat played a leading role in the 1986 movie “Top Gun.” The Navy needed an airplane to protect its surface fleets from hostile aircraft and anti-ship missiles at long range. After a naval version of the Air Force’s F-111 fighter bomber proved was unsuitable for aircraft carrier operations, its radar and long-range AIM-54 Phoenix air intercept missile systems were transferred to an entirely new design, the F-14 that could engage multiple hostiles over 90 miles away.

Needing an interceptor’s high speed while carrying this heavy ordnance, Grumman produced the highly effective variable sweep wing of the F-14, enabling it to operate at a wide range of airspeeds.

Mach 2+ test sortie

Doyle Borchers, former US Navy F-14 test pilot, recalls on Quora an exhilarating Mach 2+ test sortie flown in a Tomcat.

‘I was a Navy Test Pilot on the F-14A project so I got lots of supersonic time in the Tomcat. When I commanded an F-14 squadron on a test flight, I took a new Radar Intercept Officer supersonic for his first time. It was a neat thing to go Mach 2 also.

US Navy F-14 test pilot recalls when his Tomcat was scorched after a Mach 2+ test sortie
This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-14A Tomcat VF-2 Bounty Hunters, NK201 / 159625 / 1976

‘The F-14 was limited to about 1.7 indicated Mach. The Mach meter got squirrely in that region. The airframe was limited to a much higher true Mach. I looked up the meteorology info for that morning and checked out the temperature at 45000 feet. (True Mach is a function of air temperature).

F-14 Tomcat scorched after a Mach 2+ test sortie

‘Anyway, I saw that if I got us to 1.72 indicated Mach that morning, we would exceed a true Mach 2 at that altitude. So, we launched and got to altitude and lit the burners and accelerated to 1.72 indicated Mach. Mission accomplished.’

Borchers concludes;

‘We landed and as I was taxiing into the line the plane captain seemed excited. I got out and post flighted the airplane. The whole rear end of the airplane was scorched. Got in to debrief and rechecked the air temp at 45K and metro had screwed up. At the temp that we actually flew at, we must have exceeded Mach 2 considerably since the epoxy paint on the airplane was designed to withstand temperatures up to 2.4M.’

F-14 model
This Model is Available from AirModels! CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

Photo credit: Dave “Bio” Baranek

Share this article

Dario Leone

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.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this article

Share this article
Share this article

Always up to date! News and offers delivered directly to you!

Get the best aviation news, stories and features from The Aviation Geek Club in our newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.

Error: Contact form not found.

Share this article
Back to top
My Agile Privacy
This website uses technical and profiling cookies. Clicking on "Accept" authorises all profiling cookies. Clicking on "Refuse" or the X will refuse all profiling cookies. By clicking on "Customise" you can select which profiling cookies to activate. In addition, this site installs Google Analytics in version 4 (GA4) with anonymous data transmission via proxy. By giving your consent, the data will be sent anonymously, thus protecting your privacy. We and our selected ad partners can store and/or access information on your device, such as cookies, unique identifiers, browsing data. You can always choose the specific purposes related to profiling by accessing the advertising preferences panel, and you can always withdraw your consent at any time by clicking on "Manage consent" at the bottom of the page.

List of some possible advertising permissions:

You can consult: our list of advertising partners, the Cookie Policy and the Privacy Policy.
Warning: some page functionalities could not work due to your privacy choices