‘Actually, you could trap aboard the boat with 6 Phoenix, but you wouldn’t have substantially gasoline at max entice gross body weight,’ points out Dave Andersen, former F-14 Tomcat RIO.
Created in 1968 to consider the location of the controversial F-111B, then less than growth for the US Navy’s carrier fighter stock, the F-14A Tomcat applied the P&W TF30 engines and AWG-9 weapons management program and carried the six Goal-54 Phoenix missiles that had been supposed for the F-111B.
Many thanks to the AWG-9, 6 Phoenix missiles could be guided versus 6 independent threat plane at very long vary by the F-14.
On the Tomcat, 4 missiles can be carried less than the fuselage tunnel connected to specific aerodynamic pallets, in addition two beneath glove stations. A whole load of 6 Hughes Intention-54 Phoenix missiles and the exceptional launch rails weigh in at about 8,000 lb (3,600 kg), about twice the excess weight of Sparrows.
So, specified the Phoenix (hefty) bodyweight, was there any chance for an F-14 with a whole load of 6 Intention-54s to land on the plane carrier?
‘For a standard F-14A at 42K lbs nominal empty excess weight, increase 6 Aim-54s with rails, you’re seeking at about 8700lbs. At 54K lbs max lure gross bodyweight that would give you 3.3K lbs of gas for your first go (you may look at into marshal with a whole lot more but you’d have to dump down to max lure prior to trapping). Which is cutting it near for standard blue drinking water ops, but in wartime if needed it could be finished.
‘For an F-14D at 44k lbs vacant fat, you’d be on the lookout at <2K lbs of gas at max trap. That’s cutting it too close.
‘Landing on a runway with 6 Buffaloes…not a problem, as max field landing gross weight was 60K lbs (FCLP was 54K to simulate carrier ops). Doable but was not commonly done other than for an occasional photo shoot or maybe OPEVAL. I never flew with 6 Phoenix loaded. Usually one or two. Typical VF cruise load out in the ‘87-’89 timeframe for CVW-1 was 2/3/2/FAMMO.
‘Also the ship just didn’t keep many AIM-54s aboard in its mags we understood only 25 or so at any given time, and when you out-chopped from cruise they’d all get transferred over the the in-chopping CV/CVN.
‘The pylons/rails/canoes were all part of the carrier’s weps dept inventory and our squadron ordies just ordered up what they needed and there always seemed to be enough to go around for both Tomcat squadrons.’
‘Also realize that by ’88-’89 AIM-54A was phased out and replaced with AIM-54C, which didn’t require liquid coolanol. The “Charlie” was a huge improvement in capability and reliability over the Alpha in numerous ways (although it still weighed the same).’
‘Even before the F-14D arrived many of our F-14A were up over 43K base weight dropping your usable fuel down below 2K. Generally we would have 600 rounds of 20MM, so add a few hundred pounds unless you download the ammo, and we would usually have a couple AIM-9s on the aircraft so would have to download those also.
‘So the 6 AIM-54s would have to be a very special launch taking out the 20MM and AIM-9s just to carry them and putting you trick or treat (trap on your first pass or go to the tanker) at the back of the boat.
‘Additionally the TARPS aircraft gave up an AIM-54 station for the ability to carry the TARPS Pod. I don’t mean it physically blocked the AIM-54, they actually change the plumbing and wiring of the aircraft at that station so no AIM-54s.’
‘If you really needed to put some AIM-54 capability out there, a more reasonable load from the boat would be 4 x AIM-54, 2 x AIM-7, 2 x AIM-9, 2 x Aux tanks, and 600 rounds of HEI. Still relatively low fuel on the ball, but very doable. We regularly flew 2 x 4 – 2 each of the AIM-54, AIM-7, AIM-9, Aux tanks.
‘With a TARPS jet loaded with the POD (1,800 pounds) and weapons we were often near trick or treat on the ball at night, by had a few quick passes during the day. At night we like to plan for about 1,000 pounds per pass, daytime you could do it in 300–400 pounds.’
Photo credit: U.S. Navy