After walking around the F-111C in my last post (and sorry for the delay until this one, by the way), I thought it would be fitting to round out the F-111 story with some images from the other end of its life cycle.
So, Pig fans – or, more accurately, Aardvark Admirers – enjoy. Each image opens to about 2000px on its long side, and such detail as I could find is included in the captions.
A General Dynamics concept illustration, showing the variable wing geometry for their TFX (Tactical Fighter Experimental) proposal that would become the F-111 (Photo SDASM Cat # 10_0012084)
An F-111 scale model is readied for testing in the General Dynamics low speed wind tunnel. (Photo SDASM Cat # 10_0012033)
Ready to test the low speed aerodynamics of a ‘dirty’ F-111 in the General Dynamics wind tunnel. (Photo: SDASM Cat # 10_0007038)
The first pre-production F-111A (s/n 63-9766) during the aircraft rollout ceremony at General Dynamics, Fort Worth, on October 15th, 1964. (SDASM Photo, Cat # 10_0012062)
A pre-production (note the test boom) F-111A on the ramp at what looks like Edwards AFB. (USAF Photo # 061003-F-1234S-001)
F-111A (likely 63-9768 or 63-9771), in flight with her wings forward. (USAF photo # 080219-F-1234S-006)
A quartet of shots showing the F-111A wing sweep sequence, from 16º to 72.5º. (USAF Photo via Wikipedia)
One of the pre-production F-111As on approach to Carswell AFB, TX in late 1964 or early 1965. This aircraft has the early intake design that caused no end of flow trouble and two extensive redesigns called Triple Plow I and II. (USAF Photo # 061003-F-1234S-013)
An imposing view of the National Museum of the USAF’s F-111A 67-067, on the ramp at Wright-Patt. (USAF Photo # 080219-F-1234S-007)
A really great trio of shots from the F-111A’s flight and weapons testing program. (SDASM Photos)
F-111A s/n 63-9771, the sixth prototype built, during flight testing at the NASA Flight Research Center in July 1968. This aircraft didn’t have the supercritical airfoil of later models, or redesigned ‘Triple Plow engine intakes. (NASA Photo ECN-2092)
A portrait of F-111A s/n 63-9768 in high speed, fully swept flight. (USAF Photo # 080219-F-1234S-002)
The General Dynamics Transonic Aircraft Technology (TACT)/F-111A s/n 63-9778, a Transonic Aircraft Technology (TACT) F-111A, shows a full load of practice bombs during flight testing of its supercritical airfoil over the Mojave Desert, January 1976. (NASA Photo ECN 5033)
6 thoughts on “Big Beginnings”
Simply awesome photos and content. I really miss the old Airscape Mag, but you’re doing fine as it is. Please keep up the good work!
I don’t know where you find this stuff, but I love it.
I’ve always found it interesting how clean and sleek planes look when they’re in prototype form. Once the production model is out and they stick all sorts of antennas, fins, external stores, etc on it, it loses some of that magic.
I wonder why none of the F-111s ended up in civilian hands. There are privately owned Harriers, Phantoms, MiGs, and others. But no F-111s that I’m aware of…
Oh, I’m just not afraid to waste vast amounts of time. Wait. Yes I am. I just can’t help myself.
I’m not exactly sure why no F-111s ended up in private hands. You’d think if a determined private group can get an Avro Vulcan back into the sky, an Aardvark would be reasonably achievable. BUt I suspect the maintainers at RAAF Amberley may have more to say on the subject…
If you can get a Vulcan flying again, anything is possible. I’d think a Constellation would be a snap by comparison.
I often wonder if the latest generation of fighters (F-16, F18, etc) will be flyable by private owners in the future. They contain so much high-tech software and hardware and need such extensive and specialized support that I’m not sure it will be possible. It’s like the difference between a 1968 Mustang and a 2014 version. I could swing wrenches on the classic car, but the modern iteration would prove far more challenging without the proper diagnostic and repair tools.
Yep, we can’t stop progress. And maybe we won’t be able to start it again later. I tell you what I’d settle for: An F-5A. Simple, streamlined and solid. You remember in my F-35 article I wrote about the handful of aircraft prototypes that came out of the shop perfectly formed? The F-5A tops the list. Pure genius with wings.