3 Things We Learned About The Tomcat

Curator Matthew Burchette and F-14 pilot Lt. Richard “Spud” Webb is here to talk to us about the F-14 Tomcat. Here are the three most interesting things they said about the famous jet fighter:

1. Cannon Ammo Workaround

Its M61A1 Vulcan can fire 100 rounds per second, the perfect weapon of destruction for the F-14 Tomcat. F-14 crews would carry 600 rounds per mission, meaning they’d usually run out of bullets after six seconds.

What they opted to do was load the drum every 50 rounds – put a space – then load the other 50 rounds. Now, instead of emptying the entire clip, they would just be able to fire a half-second burst.

This is easier to estimate since they’d know they have 12 trigger squeezes at 50 rounds each!

2. Paired With The AIM-54

The Tomcat is known for carrying an immense amount of payload, from GBUs, AIM-9s, AIM-7s, and the likes. Still, the F-14 was known for the highly-regarded AIM-54 Phoenix missile – the hallmark weapon for the F-14 platform.

The missile was designed at the same time with the AWG-9 radar to be paired together as a weapons unit. Moreover, the Tomcat was also designed to actually fly and employ these two weapons in conjunction with each other.

It was capable of locking up six targets, firing six AIM-54s simultaneously at all six hardpoints.

3. Impressive Engines

Tomcats are fitted with two Pratt & Whitney TF-130 engines, nine feet apart on the centerline. These engines were so powerful it would emit a column of flame about three feet in diameter at its hottest.

No wonder why the Tomcat was rated for Mach 2.4! During Zone 5 afterburner (full afterburner), you’re basically holding back 50,000 lbs of afterburner thrust!