Let’s celebrate Top Gun Day with this cool video: F-14 versus Everything

May 13th is Top Gun Day.

This video proves that the F-14 Tomcat was much more than a  capable fleet defender.

Clips taken from the Tomcat HUD and TCS, show that the F-14 could win against some of the best and most agile fighters ever built, such as the F-16, the MiG-21, the MiG-29, the F/A-18, the Mirage 2000, the F-15 and the MiG-23 during DACT (Dissimilar Air Combat Training) and/or real dogfight sessions.

Although we don’t know the Rules of Engagement (ROE) of the mock aerial combat in the footage, this video shows that, despite its size, the Tomcat was an amazingly agile and nasty dogfighter.

 

19 Comments

  1. I was a teenager when this movie came out. Eager to get into aviation. It was the lowest form of propaganda/crap/pap I had ever seen. I hated it then, I hate it now. The real best F-14 porn film is Final Countdown. The photography in that movie far exceeds everything in Top Gun except perhaps the flight sequences filmed at Fallon. But to be a complete killjoy. Top Gun sucked.

  2. My all-time favorite fighter plane. I really would like to know the real reason why it was taken out of use. Awesome flying machine.

  3. I miss Top Gun Day every year and this destroys me. How could I miss it again! I shall hang my head in shame; Outlaw is bugging out!

  4. Gee, this is absolutely ridiculous. A couple of lucky HUD shots of Turkeycat drivers having a Fulcrum, Mirage 2000, and Eagle in its view. What about the hundreds of gun camera footage proving the otherwise (of Eagles and Vipers consistently waxing F-14s in WVR)? The F-14 vs either the Fulcrum or Mirage 2000 in WVR is an absolute joke. Both jets can turn quicker (although I will admit that at under 300kts the Tomcat would give you a pretty good one turn at the expense of its energy) and have far better instantaneous agility against the F-14; and in the case of the Fulcrum, better T/W ratio and sustained energy.

    I suggest you read LCDR Ruzicka’s article about the Tomcat. If anyone would know what it’s capable of in ACM he would since he was an F-14D RIO, and part of the Tomcat aerial demonstration team. He even admits that the up-rated F-14D is NOT a 9G jet, and is generally inferior to the F-15C in a dogfight.

    Surprisingly, I did not see any HUD video of an F-16, Rafale, F-22, or Eurofighter being downed by an F-14. Why, because it probably would never have happened. All of those jets are far superior in ACM than the bulky and heavy Tomcat. What about the the Tomcat vs the Six? You forgot to mention that back in the 1970s, ADC F-106s out of McChord waxed Tomcats in DACT. Even on a few occasions ANG and RAF Phantoms had Tomcat kills to their credit. Now this doesn’t mean that either the Six or Phantom were superior in ACM against the F-14 anymore than a few lucky Tomcat kills vs Fulcrums, Eagles, or Mirages-

    • My thoughts exactly. I didn’t see in this video many proofs showing that the Tomcat was an “amazingly agile and nasty dogfighter”. Certainly agile for her size and weight, but she was not a natural born dogfighter, and couldn’t usually compare to most of the planes we see here. Yeah, of course it could get a kill against a lighter or more manoeuvrable aircraft, but don’t make it a generality. Obviously, any fighter pilot in any plane in the world can manage to have his opponent in his sights during mock WVR combat like that, but a lucky HUD shot is not sufficient enough to make it a “kill”. And even if it was, if the outcome of the engagement was -say- 1 kill for the Tomcat and 5 for the opponent, this couldn’t be called a success, could it ?

      However, I really liked the Cat, lovely plane, damned good interceptor, and above all, a classy machine. Too bad it was written off, the last versions (and planned to come) were very promising, even for an ageing 70’s aircraft.

      PS to Frank : I don’t know about Typhoons, but Rafales M (Block F1) trained once WVR in 2002 against the 14s and 18sC from the Roosvelt and the Stennis. French pilots said that “against the Toms, WVR was a slaughter, our Rafales are incomparably more agile than the heavy F14 and we outclassed them since the beginning of every engagement.”

    • To Frank: I’m trying not to be rude or disrespectful but where on earth do you get your information from let alone put it up… Here if you’ve been reading my posts let me say my father was a high level engineer for Grumman, second just to give one fact on your beloved eagle, perhaps 2 – a 14 blows it out of the sky b4 it even has a chance to react, it also flies apart b4 a 14 will aka iron works and third when was the Raptor built?

    • Funny how all the Tomcat critics throw out the qualifier “Within Visual Range”. It tends to stick out rather obvious showing the other aircraft’s inferior sensor suite. Any smart Tomcat driver would use the BVR capability to control the fight to his advantage. To use the AWG9/AIM54 first in order to force the opponent to evade(use energy to avoid the missile), then move in for an easy kill.

    • So, are you basically telling the naval aviators that piloted their aircraft for guns kills that they were lucky because they happened to be in an airplane you don’t respect? Are you are saying the F-14 is not maneuverable because it looks big and bulky? Or what? How do you know anything about how well it turns and its ability to sustain energy, anyway? If you respect information coming from a former F-14 RIO, then you should respect the opinion of multiple F-14 pilots (the ones in the front seat that actually move the control surfaces to get the airplane to go where they need it to go) to include a Rear Admiral Gilchrist, who commanded Carrier Air Wing 3 and flew everything from F-8s, F-4s, F-14s, and F/A-18s operationally, Captain Dale Snodgrass, and several pilots quoted in a book called “Grumman F-14 Tomcat in Combat” by Frederic Lert. You will find many publications with them and others stating the F-14’s competitiveness in ACM against the airplanes you, for whatever reason (probably internet forums and cherry picking quotes from an online article here and there), think the F-14 cannot compete with. In the book by Lert, F-14 pilots (again, the ones moving around the stick, pedals and throttles) are quoted stating that the up-engined F-14B/D is superior to the F-15 and equal to the F-16 within visual range. As for g and AoA limits, F-14 pilots weren’t limited by a computer and were able to and have put more than 9g’s of stress without structural damage, which they would have done in combat.

      • So you seem to be accusing me of what you are guilty of “cherry-picking”. Sorry, but no Tomcat would ever match an F-16. The F-16 is unstable in pitch, the Tomcat is not. The F-16 is fly by wire, the Tomcat is not. The F-16 could make the pilot go into GLOC, never heard the Tomcat do that. F-16 can sustain 9G, Tomcat cannot.

        My sources are LCDR Ruzicka , the book Red Eagles (F-14 pilots described how the Tomcat had difficulties vs the Mig-21 and Mig-17 in the horizontal), F-15 Eagle pilot Doug Didly (F-15 Eagle Engaged), and Combat Aircraft article about Rafale vs Tomcat and Hornet.

        The Eagle never was lucky enough to get new engines like the F-14. The GE engines made the F-14D more competitive vs the Eagle, but not superior.

        Have you ever piloted an F-14, 15, 16, Rafale, Typhoon, or Raptor?? I bet not-

        • No I’m not. I just pointed out some equally, if not more, reputable sources that refute the assertion that the F-14 is not competitive in the dogfight arena against the fighters you pointed out based on the sources you used.

          GLOC can happen as low as 4g. And if you’ve done nothing but eat ice cream and donuts and sit on your behind for most of your life, standing up really fast after a long session of couch time can cause GLOC.

          As for being able the importance of g, my personal turn radius is way tighter than any fighter plane. I can literally turn around in circles while standing in the same spot at like 0g. The faster something is moving, the more g it takes to make a tight radius. You don’t have to sustain 9g to produce a tight turn radius if you are going slower. The F-14 was a good slow speed fighter, and I can reference publications stating such if you’d like. That said, the F-14 could have pulled 9g if it was necessary. It was limited at 6.5 to 7.0 as your reference LCDR Ruzicka states in the article he wrote for the sake of maintaining the life of the airframe.

          LCDR Ruzicka’s article, which I just read, states that the F-14’s ability to add energy is an advantage over the Super Hornet. You can see that during its airshow demo. It goes from doing the “min radius turn” straight into a double immelman. It’s not even in afterburner during the entire turn. And concerning its performance against the F-15, LCDR Ruzicka was in VF-154, which operated the F-14A, not the up-engined F-14B/D. His experience doing WVR simulated fights with F-15s were probably while he was with VF-154.

          F-15s was lucky enough to get new engines very early in its career to replace the troubled F100. The F-14 was supposed to also, but didn’t get the funding because of genius (not really) fiscal people in the Navy at the time. The engine the F-14 eventually got, the GE F110 is also used in the F-16 and some versions of the F-15.

          Anyway, the likelihood of a guns vs guns dogfight scenario occurring is pretty tiny.

          • Look, I am not saying the Tomcat is a terrible dog-fighter. It most certainly is not. However, It is (A, B, or D) not in the same league as the F-16 Block 15, 30,40, or 50. The Viper is fly by wire and is unstable in pitch, meaning that it does not suffer from trim drag and that its tail-plane adds to total lift (not subtracting from it as with the Tomcat, Eagle, and Hornet). The Viper can complete a 9G turn in 17 seconds (block 30 and F-16N), it was the first US plane that could actually out-turn the Mig-17 in the horizontal. It was the first US plane to be able to sustain 9G. The Viper also has extremely low frontal drag as compared to a Tomcat or Eagle, due to its wing body blending.

            The best the F-14D can do in a turn is about 21-22 seconds (which is very similar to the Eagle, though NOT superior to it). And it is still a 7G slow speed turn. Even on Youtube.com all the airshow bosses say during the F-14D aerial demos that with the wing at 20 degrees it is a 7G turn 300 knot turn (meaning relatively slow speed). Even the Tomcat pilot who shot down a Sukhoi back in 1981 said that when they hit the merge he pulled into a 7G turn and reversed on his opponent: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4arJFZbfKAg This happens at 38:50 of the video. Since he is in actual combat, he probably went for maximum sustained G. He never said he pulled into 9G’s at the merge.

            Even with the wings at 68 degrees the Tomcats turn takes about 26-27 seconds, why?, because it is basically a non fly by wire delta (which suffers terribly from trim drag) similar to a Mirage III or Draken. They can turn very quickly for the first few seconds, then the drag build up causes a huge energy bleed off. This even happens somewhat to the Mirage 2000C in a sustained turn (and that jet is FBW and CCV).

            Google the article “F-14A vs F-14B, by Flightglobal.com, Mr. Gallup says that when he flew in VX-4: “Later, Gallop says he had an opportunity to take part in an interesting exercise when he was at TOPGUN flying F-14As and Bs. “I was flying at TOPGUN and we had the F-14As there at the time, and for one short period of time, we got a B-model,” he says. “So I went out with another F-14 guy for a one-versus-one. We took turns being the offensive or defensive player and I think I was in the A.”

            “So we setup with the B offensive on the first one, and not unexpectedly, the offensive aircraft did well–lots of power,” Gallop says. “So I thought ‘Oh, well, it’s a huge difference the GE engines are pretty great. Then we swapped roles and we found that the end result was fairly similar except the TF30 airplane did better–he started as offensive and stayed there.”

            The lesson that Gallop says that he took away was: “Really, all it comes down to is technique because the F-14, especially with that 64ft wingspan–it’s a very efficient wing–but it doesn’t matter how much thrust you have, you can still generate a lot more drag if you’re out there, depending on where you’re flying in the envelope, especially as the defensive guy you don’t have a whole lot of opportunity to unload the airplane and take advantage of the energy addition rate.”

            There are huge advantages to having lots of extra thrust–such as improved time-to-climb, intercept ratios, and greater payloads, and just better overall aircraft performance, Gallop says, but “thrust is a tool and needs to be applied intelligently to take full advantage of it.”- See more at: http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2013/04/f-14a-versus-the-f-14b/#sthash.hz3Xs53M.dpuf

            What he is saying from an aeronautical standpoint is that even with the extra thrust from the GE 110 engine the TF30 version still stayed on his six because the thrust could not overcome the drag. Remember there are 4 forces acting on an airplane: Lift opposes Weight, and Thrust opposes Drag.

            The title of this article “F-14 versus everything” is rather anecdotal, in that there is a youtube video showing the F-16N easily killing many Tomcats in WVR, the Viper never even breaks over 7.5G with the F-14 in his pipper: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZyvY3n9GDY

            And here is another video of USAF F-16A gun camera footage against the Tomcat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w2ogyElvto

            Here is one example from an F-15 Eagle HUD of F-14s, F-5s, and Drakens being killed in DACT, it happens at 6:14 of the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9y-P6DNlB0

            Now, does this mean that the F-14A,B,D are terrible ACM jets? No, it does not. However, it is rather untruthful for F-14 fans (and people who just can’t get over seeing the movie “Top Gun”) to state that the F-14D could defeat ANYTHING IN A DOGFIGHT. LCDR Ruczika was still talking about the D model, not the A. And the D model still has an inferior thrust to weight ratio vs the Eagle or Viper. The F-14D empty is over 43,735lbs, the B model is 41,780lbs (from pg 193 of the book Tomcat!, the F-14 story by Paul T. Gillcrist) and thrust is quoted at 55.200lbs. Although other sources say it is 56,000lbs (from the book “Anytime Baby”/ “Tomcat, the Grumman F-14” by Lou Drendel). The point is that the F-15A empty is only 27,800lbs, the F-15C empty is 29,300lbs. Even with the de-rated PW F100-220’s the Eagle still has a small thrust to weight ratio advantage. And the GE model Vipers are in a different class-

            Even if you include the tunnel wing area which is quoted at 1000sq ft, the Tomcat’s wing loading is equivalent to the Eagles. And the Eagle as has additional lift from its twin tailbooms, wing strakes, and fuselage (although not as great as the F-14’s, but we must remember the F-14 is FAR HEAVIER THAN THE EAGLE). An IDF Eagle lost a wing in a mid-air collision to an A-4 Skyhawk in ACM training back in the early 1980’s and the pilot was still flying because of the lift provided from the fuselage section and tailbooms.

            To get to Gillcrist’s quoted F-14 wing loading of 43lbs/per sq ft, the F-15 would only need to generate an additional 73 sq ft of lifting surface; and judging from the size of the Eagle’s tailbooms, strakes, and fuselage it probably either meets or exceeds that figure.

            I believe that the F-14D and the F-15C are probably somewhat equals in a dog-fight, and it would come down to the quality of the pilots flying as to who the victor would be. But, the F-14D and F-15C are not in the same class as the F-22, Eurofighter, or Rafale in a dog-fight.

            Finally, the story of the Rafale defeating the F-14D, F-18C/E back in 2002 is from Combat International and it is also referenced in the book: “Lessons not learned, the US Navy’s status Quo Culture” on pg134-135.

            I can tell you this, the F-14 was the greatest interceptor of its generation, no other jet had such a powerful radar in the AWG-9/ ability to track 24 tragets/ and engage them from greater than 90nm. away with the Phoenix AAM. And the F-14 was a far better air to ground platform than the F-18C or E. The Tomcat could carry 4 Mark 84 bombs under the tunnel; and it had far greater range. The Bobcat version probably was even superior to the A-6 in the air to ground role in that it was only slightly shorter ranged; but the Tomcat had the ability to defend itself in the air to air role unlike the Intruder.

            • I agree, there are planes with more advantages in a WVR maneuvering dogfight. But, I don’t think those are going to happen much anymore. A lot of people like to point to Vietnam as an example of us being wrong about that. Sensors, weapons, command and control, datalinks and the like have improved significantly since then and are far more reliable.

              But back to the F-14. If there’s a plane whose body generates lots and lots of lift, it’s the F-14. I can find some scholarly references later (it’s July 4th and I just got done playing with and watching fireworks and I’m tired). Regarding g, it can do over 7.0, and can do so sustained, too. I’ll provide a few videos that I’ve favorited or bookmarked over the years since we are using videos as references.

              In the following video, during the “min radius” turn segment at 6:50, you can listen to the 2004/2005 demo pilot say (at like 7:30) he has to get out of afterburner during the turn because he will “overstress” the F-14 or “get over 500 knots”. This pilot flew the F-14B/D during the 2004/2005 air show seasons. So, it appears that based on his comments, the F-14B/D’s more powerful engines helped it maintain or even gain energy during turns.

              In this next video, some good energy management from an F-14D doing a 720 degree turn with wings swept back, going pretty slow (so probably manually selected wings to be swept back) then going vertical. The turn starts at 0:55 in the video. Looks like it took about 1 minute to do two 360s with the wings swept back at whatever speed its going before going vertical.

              And you can see in the following videos that pilots didn’t always follow the rules and what appears to be an F-14 that pulled more than 7 gs. At 10:40 you can see an F-14 pilot doing continuous aileron rolls. Since the late 90s, F-14 pilots were encouraged not to continue an aileron roll beyond a full 360 degrees. In the air shows in the 2000s you will see a pause after each roll during the “vertical departure”. And at 11:57 you can see that the F-14 did 9.1g in the maximum g indicator under the current g indicator (near bottom left) during that hop.

              Here’s a cool video of an F-14B doing an air show at sea with drop tanks and phoenix pallets. It does a nice “min radius” into the vertical with all that gear at 3:14.

              http://www.military.com/video/aircraft/jet-fighters/vf-11-f-14b-demo/644414124001/

              The following links talk about pulling 10g. In the second link, Capt Snodgrass says he pulled 8-10g to avoid a missile. (Those these don’t sound like instances of sustained g.)

              http://instapinch.com/?p=1003

              http://www.sponauer.com/snodgrass/

              And in the book “Debrief: A Complete History of U.S. Aerial Engagements 1981 to the Present”, one of the pilots involved in the Su-22 engagements (the same one you refer to) said he pulled 10.2g to avoid debris (again probably not sustained).

              The F-14 was a better platform, overall, for air-to-air and air-to-ground than the F-18. But, I don’t think it matters as much anymore for the US. Our foes will likely fight us asymmetrically now. Because it’s easier and cheaper. And if we do get in a force-on-force scenario, we’ll likely launch a whole bunch of TLAMs and stealth aircraft to strike any airfields and any command and control/GCI infrastructure enemy fighters might use. There is more than one way to achieve air superiority. Our dedicated air-to-air fighters will be useful for like the first few days of a war against any enemy planes that happen to make it into the sky. And when they do, while they’re searching a narrow and limited piece of the sky with their radar, they’ll be detected with AWACS/AEGIS or some other super amazing over the horizon radar and likely get shot down before they even know US fighters are being vectored into a position to blow them up at long range. I don’t think we need to invest heavily in air-to-air platforms anymore. Especially small, short range fighters. For the cost of 10 F-16C/Ds, you can launch 125 TLAMS at an airfield loaded with enemy fighters. The majority of our likely enemies’ fighters will be rendered useless pretty quickly once all their infrastructure is toast. The only scenarios where I see WVR dogfights occurring are situations where we are not officially at war and ROE is very restrictive, like, maybe every country near the South China Sea decides to go into the disputed territories at the same time.

              • The tomcat can do 9gs no problem. Weight isn’t an issue the f-22 raptor is heavier yet flies slower than tomcat due to aerodyanmic issues. The aerodynamic pancake design of the f-14 and the upgraded f-110 engines puts it in the same class as any other modern fighter out there.

                Hoser would test the tomcats at SUSTAINED 8.5gs with tf-30 engines. You can look that up if you want. Some people were saying it had a couple of missles on it too when it did that. But I don’t actually know all the details. But honestly, Hoser was probably shitting his pants at the thought of his tf-30s perhaps stalling with that much g-force. With the f-110 engines why wouldn’t we be able to say it can do 9gs? Of course it can. It’s more aerodynamic than any other jet we currently fly in our military. Yet it weighs LESS than the f-22 raptor. Makes no sense why it can’t do 9gs.

                Of course 9gs is a killer. Warps all jets that do it, which is why they forbid you to do it in normal sorties. Also compressed bone and organs, hospitalizes many pilots. Etc etc. Just political bullshit really this whole 9G “aptitude test”.

          • To add to my reply, In the book: F-14 Tomcat in Action by Frederic Lert, on pg. 35 Commander Aljanich does not mention in what performance parameters the D model betters the F-15C, I imagine he is referring to slow speed flight, 320kts and under; for we must remember the corner velocity of both the F-15C and F-16 are around 385kts. In nearly all of those HUD camera examples that I posted, the Viper and Eagle have the Tomcat in their pipper generally above 350kts, although one example has the Viper killing a Tomcat flying much slower. But that further proves my point. In that even at slow speeds, for example, the A-10 with its high aspect ratio wing can out-turn the Viper, Eagle, Tomcat, and just about everything else. There are several videos of A-10 aerial demos of it completing a 360 degree turn in only 16 seconds. BUT IT IS A SLOW SPEED TURN, THAT THE A-10 PILOT GENERALLY DOES NOT WANT TO FIND HIMSELF IN.

            The F-16 and the F-15 generally avoid fighting under 300 kts. In the book “Anytime Baby” on pg 180-181, CDR James “Puck” Howe is quoted as saying: “Nothing turns like a Tomcat on the deck with its wings out. The trick is to get there alive.” He proves my point that with the wings out at 20 degrees the F-14D does have a very good first turn, but that is still a slow speed turn. With the wings out (the F-14 has a high aspect ratio wing similar to the A-10) , and you are generally flying slow and with limited energy. In those instances you are most vulnerable. That position is very similar to thrust vectoring, for TV maneuvering leaves you with very limited energy and very vulnerable to attack by a fighter with higher speeds/greater energy. That is why in certain Red Flag engagements when inexperienced F-22 Raptor pilots who used TV very liberally and unwisely, it left them slow and without energy; and in THOSE FEW INSTANCES the F-22 was killed. Similar results were attained when RAF Typhoons engaged Indian Su-30MKI’s with TV. The Indian pilots unwisely used TV, it left them slow, and the RAF Typhoon pilots with their greater energy state killed them.

            In order for the F-16A to achieve its legendary 9G turn/maneuver capability it must be flying faster than Mach .6 (usually Mach .7 to Mach .9) at low level. As operating altitude rises, more speed is needed. That is why the F-16 turns so fast and tight. The F-16 was the first US jet to officially be able to out turn the Mig-17. At higher speeds nothing could out turn the Viper, and that is where he wanted to fight. Even the Eurofighter and the Rafale achieve their most tightest and quickest turns (9G) generally at higher speeds, and they are not left slow and without energy like high aspect ratio winged jets-

        • No I’m not. I just pointed out some equally, if not more, reputable sources that refute your assertion as fact that the F-14 could not compete in the dogfight arena against the fighters you pointed out based on the sources you used. I’m bringing to the table another perspective.

          GLOC can happen as low as 4g. And if you’ve done nothing but eat ice cream and donuts and sit on your behind for most of your life, standing up really fast after a long session of couch time can cause something like GLOC.

          As for how g is related to turn radius/rate, my personal turn radius/rate is way tighter/faster than any fighter plane. I can literally turn around in circles while standing in the same spot at like 0.5g or something. The faster something is moving, the more g it takes to make a smaller radius/higher rate of turn. You don’t have to sustain 9g to produce a tight turn radius if you are going slower. The F-14 was a good slow speed fighter, and I can reference publications stating such if you’d like. That said, the F-14 could have pulled 9g if it was necessary. I can also reference something for that. Pilots were limited to 6.5 to 7.0 as your reference LCDR Ruzicka states in the article he wrote for the sake of maintaining the life of the airframe.

          LCDR Ruzicka’s article, which I just read, states that the F-14’s ability to add energy is an advantage over the Super Hornet. So does that mean the Super Hornet would not ever match any modern fighter due to its poorer ability to maintain and gain energy during turns than the Tomcat? No. And, you can see what he’s talking about in some videos of the F-14’s air show demonstration. In some routines, an F-14B/D will do a “min radius turn” straight into a double immelman. It’s not even in afterburner during a big portion of the turn, because it doesn’t need to be. And concerning its performance against the F-15, LCDR Ruzicka was in VF-154, which operated the F-14A, not the up-engined F-14B/D. If I had to guess, most of his experience doing WVR simulated fights with F-15s were probably while he was with that squadron.

          The F-15 was lucky enough to get new engines very early in its career to replace the troubled F100-100. The F-14 was supposed to also, but didn’t get the funding because of genius (not really) fiscal people in the Navy at the time. The engine the F-14 eventually got, the GE F110 is also used in F-16s and some versions of the F-15.

          Anyway, the likelihood of a guns vs guns dogfight scenario occurring in the real world is pretty tiny and all this talk about an airplane’s ability to maneuver into a guns kill position on another plane isn’t as important as many other things these days.

  5. Maintenance costs. F18 has a qtr the costs to maintain. Longer flight hours and much smaller down time.

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