General Dynamics F-111B

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Reposting and revising from my original suggestion in old forums.

General Dynamics F-111B

Jet Fighter / Interceptor / Naval Aircraft

   Greetings! I’d like to re-introduce and suggest a General Dynamics F-111B for the US aviation tech tree. The F-111B was marvelous for its time yet had a short-lived history in the US Navy service. Designed to respond to the US Navy’s new requirement and replace the naval F-4 Phantoms, it incorporated new TF-30 engines, AWG-9 and Phoenix weapons systems, and swing-wing configuration. Ultimately, it faced development and political issues and was replaced by the newer F-14 Tomcats in the late 1960s, inheriting advanced features from the F-111B.


History

Tactical Fighter Experimental Program

History of the F-111B development began back to Secretary of Defense McNamara’s controversial Tactical Fighter Experimental (TFX) program in 1961.

The TFX program was established to meet the USAF’s and USN’s requirements for new aircraft for their disparate roles: a supersonic, ground-hugging strike aircraft invisible to enemy radar and capable of dodging surface-to-air missiles; a carrier-based interceptor capable of engaging Soviet bombers hundreds of miles away before they deploy long-range anti-ship missiles.

The TFX program decreed the US Air Force and US Navy to use identical airframes with respective purposes to meet their requirements. Secretary McNamara personally selected the F-111 as the bi-service fighter for this program. He had closely supervised this program since the beginning of his term.

Design and Development

On September 29, 1961, the TFX program sent Request For Proposals to Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed, Northrop, Grumman, McDonnell, Douglas, North American, and Republic. Boeing and General Dynamics submitted the promising proposals; however, an additional three rounds of updates to the proposals had to be conducted before the final decision. Afterward, Boeing was picked by the selection board, but Secretary McNamara overruled and selected General Dynamics’ proposal in November 1962 due to its proposal of the F-111 airframe sharing more commonality between Air Force and Navy versions. Compared to Boeing’s proposal, only their versions shared less than half of the major structural components, which the Air Force and Navy military operators favored because two structurally different planes would not be compromised to meet contrast service performance requirements. Nonetheless, General Dynamics signed the TFX contract in December 1962.

Thus, the TFX program had given birth to the F-111 Aardvark series. The F-111A was designated to the Air Force’s TFX version, and the F-111B was designated to the Navy’s TFX version.

General Dynamics lacked experience developing the carrier-based aircraft, so it partnered with more experienced Grumman to develop the F-111B. The F-111B was said to be the most sophisticated design during the 1960s. It became the first aircraft to incorporate afterburning turbofan engines with capabilities of flying at Mach 2 and cruising in an extreme range thanks to its fuel efficiency along with variable-sweep wing and AWG-9 Pulse-Doppler radar to detect the targets at extremely long range for new AIM-54 Phoenix missiles, ranging up to 100 miles or about 161 kilometers.

Flight Testing

The F-111B launched its first flight in May 1965, registered with Serial Number 151970 and powered with TF30-P-3 engines, and its flight test revealed some problems: underpowered performance in sustained maneuvers, flight control malfunctions, and poor cockpit visibility. Nevertheless, the variable-sweep technology proved remarkable on the aircraft. The engineers upgraded the power plant from TF 30-P-3 to TF30-P-12, providing the F-111B with more thrusts. The only two F-111Bs that were upgraded with the TF30-P-12 engines were Serial Number 152714 and Serial Number 152715, designated as the pre-production variant.

In July 1968, the fifth F-111B with Serial Number 151974 was built and flew for its carrier trials, boarding the USS Coral Sea. The trials were proving to be successful without grave problems. However, the Navy and its pilots had shown a general dislike of the aircraft since it was too large and heavy for sustained maneuvers in close-range dogfight.

Four F-111Bs were involved in ongoing Phoenix missile testings. Unfortunately, the flight tests were not without costs: two F-111Bs were destroyed, and one F-111B was severely damaged. The F-111B’s last flight started from California to New Jersey in mid-1971 with Serial Number 151792. The seven F-111Bs flew 1,748 hours over 1,173 flights in total.

Replacement

The lifetime of the General Dynamics F-111B program was abruptly cut short when Secretary of Defense McNamara resigned in February 1968, making the program more unpopular. Along with resistance from the Navy fighter pilots and officers, Congress declined extra funds for the F-111B program. The Navy canceled the planned purchase of 705 F-111Bs into the production stage and shifted its focus on the F-14 Tomcat program, marking the final nail in the coffin for the F-111B.

The F-14 Tomcat inherited critical features of AN/AWG-9 radar, Phoneix missiles, variable-sweep wing, and afterburning turbofan engines from the F-111B. The F-14 Tomcat proved its greater dogfighting capability since it was lighter and more agile than the F-111B at the cost of the increased price. Ironically, the F-14 was the largest and heaviest US fighter to take off and land from an aircraft carrier.

While the F-111B did not reach the final production stage, the land-based F-111 variants continued their service within the USAF for many years and with the Royal Australian Air Force until 2010.

Table of All Registered F-111Bs

F-111B # Serial # Description Location or Fate
1 151970 Prototype with heavy airframe, TF30-P-3 engines. Scrapped in December 1969 after flight tests.
2 151971 Prototype with heavy airframe, TF30-P-3 engines. Involved in Hughes missile testing. Lost in a crash on September 11, 1968.
3 151972 Prototype with heavy airframe, TF30-P-3 engines. Involved in jet blast testing at NATF, NAES Lakehurst, NJ. Was damaged and retired. Likely scrapped.
4 151973 Prototype with lightened airframe, TF30-P-3 engines Destroyed in double engine failure crash on 21 April 1967.
5 151974 Prototype with lightened airframe, TF30-P-3 engines Crash landed at NAS Point Mugu, CA in October 1968. Scrapped at NAS Moffett Field, CA in 1970.
6 152714 Pre-production version, TF30-P-12 engines Involved in Hughes missile testing. Retired in 1969 and stored at a scrapyard in Mojave, California.
7 152715 Pre-production version, TF30-P-12 engines Retired and stored at NAWS China Lake, CA.

Variants
The first three F-111Bs were initial prototypes, and F-111B # 4 and # 5 were prototypes with lightened airframes. F-111B # 6 and # 7 had lightened airframes and improved TF30-P-12 engines and were built to near production standards, and they were approximately 2 feet longer due to an added space between the cockpit and radome.

The first five F-111Bs had Triple Plow I intakes, and the last two F-111Bs had Triple Plow II intakes. The first three aircraft included individual ejection seats, and the remainder included an escape crew capsule as the whole ejection.


Specifications

General Dynamics F-111B (Pre-Production Variant)


General Characteristics

  • Crew: 2 (Pilot and Weapons System Operator)
  • Powerplant: 2x Pratt and Whitney TF30-P-12
    → 12,000lbs thrust each in military power, 20,000lbs thrust each in afterburner
  • Height: 15 feet 9 inches (4.80 meters)
  • Empty Weight: 46,000 pounds (20,865 kilograms)
  • Max Takeoff Weight: 88,000 lbs (39,900 kilograms)
  • Wingspan, spread, 16 degrees: 70 feet (21.34 meters)
  • Wingspan, swept, 72.5 degrees: 33 feet and 11 inches (10.34 meters)
  • Wing Area, spread: 655.5 square feet (60.9 square meters)
  • Wing Area, swept: 550 square feet (51.1 square meters)
  • Length: 68 feet 10 inches (20.98 meters)

Performance

  • Maximum speed a sea level with 6x Phoenix missiles: 662 mph (1065 kph)
  • Maximum speed at 40,000 Feet with 6x Phoenix missiles: 1,450 mph (2,334 kph)
  • Combat Range with 6x Phoenix missiles: 1,830 miles (2,945 kilometers)
  • Service ceiling with 6x Phoenix missiles: 44,900 feet (13,686 meters)
  • Rate of Climb with 6x Phoenix missiles: 21,300 feet per minute (108 meters per second)

Weapons System

  • Avionics:

    • AN/AWG-9 (Radar Set)
  • Guns:

    • 20mm M61A1 (2,084 rounds)
    • Mark 4 Gunpods
  • Air-to-Air Missiles:

    • AIM-9D
    • AIM-9G
    • AIM-54A Phoenix (6x)
  • Air-to-Ground Low-Drag Bombs:

    • MK 81 (250lbs)
    • MK 82 (500lbs)
    • MK 83 (1000lbs)
    • MK 84 (2000lbs)
  • Air-to-Ground High-Drag Bombs:

    • MK 81 (250lbs) Snakeye
    • MK 82 (500lbs) Snakeye
  • Incendiary Bombs:

    • MK-77 Mod 2
    • MK-79
  • Rockets:

    • LAU-3A/A
    • LAU-10/A
    • LAU-32A/A
  • Fuel Tanks:

    • 450 Gal Wing Tank (2x)

Cockpit

Pilot's Instrument Panel
Missile Control Officer's Instrument Panel


F-111B Album

F-111A and F-111B Inboard Profiles


F-111B with Phoenix Missiles

F-111B w/ Phoenix Missiles


Pre-Production F-111B (152714)


Pre-Production F-111B (152714) on scrapyard


Pre-Production F-111B (152715)


Pre-Production F-111B (152715)


Conclusion | Why it should be in the game

   The F-111B is a unique aircraft that could provide an opportunity to bridge the gap between the naval F-4 Phantom and the F-14A Tomcat in the naval aircraft line of the United States aviation tech tree. Players would get to play the rare Aardvark variant capable of carrying long-range missiles with sophisticated radar. It is also configured to take off and land from an aircraft carrier. If it makes it into the game, it should represent a pre-production variant of F-111Bs with Serial Numbers 152714 and 152715.


Sources

Thank you for taking the time to read my suggestion! 😃

10 Likes

Had no idea there was a fighter variant of the Vark! +1

4 Likes

+1, we need a lot more Varks in game (this one between the F-4J and F-14A, and then the D & F in the line after the A)

1 Like

There she is! I had been wondering for a while now how long it would be until someone would make a suggestion for this beast of a Vark!

As it seems you’ve dived into the nitty gritty of this plane, I was wondering if you have and answers to a few questions of mine that I could never seem to find in my short time researching this plane myself:

1: Was (the F-111B variant your proposing be added) capable of carrying sparrows?
2: Can it carry a Vulcan in the bomb bay?
2A: If so, to carry the Vulcan, would it need to ditch both Phoenixes or just one?
2B: If so, will the Vulcan be angled downwards as with previous variants of the F-111?
3: What’s the maximum amount of Aim-9Gs it can take? I would assume somewhere around 6-8 but don’t know for sure, all depends on what rails this variant is capable of using.
4: is it capable of using any guided air to ground munitions such as mavericks, walleyes, GBUs which some other F-111 variants can use?
IMG_3864
5: No 3000Lb bombs? Is it not capable of carrying them?

  1. No clue. The sources never stated anything about the sparrows; all I can find is this information on the Internet: “Early F-111 models had radars equipped to guide the AIM-7 Sparrow medium-range air-to-air missile, but it was never fitted.” Perhaps the F-111B never got configured this way.

  2. In Standard Aircraft Characteristics, it said the F-111B is similar to the Air Force F-111A, so yes, theoretically, it could carry a Vulcan in the bomb bay the same way as the F-111A. I found no historical sources to prove this configuration for the F-111B on paper. Since both Vulcan and Phoenixes are so big, I reckon the F-111B needs to ditch both Phoenixes in the bomb bay for a Vulcan.

  3. Nowhere in the flight manual and Standard Aircraft Characteristics mention the limitations or number of heat-seekers. Since F-111A and F-111B are similar, six to eight heat-seekers make sense for the F-111B (6 on wing pylons and 2 in the bomb bay).

  4. Only in the flight manual is it mentioned that the F-111B could use air-to-surface missiles, conventional armament, or special weapons to provide ground support attack. No specific information states anything about certain air-to-surface missiles. Theoretically, the F-111B can carry AGM-12B bullpup missiles like the F-111A.

  5. Neither the flight manual nor Standard Aircraft Characteristics has mentioned anything about 3000 lb bombs. Theoretically? If the F-111A can carry it, then the F-111B can.

I want to state that the F-111B only has six hardpoints (four pivoting wing pylons and two fixed-wing pylons), so the F-111B will carry a limited amount of air-to-surface or conventional weapons, whereas the F-111A has many wing pylons.

Sadly, I had to do guesswork to answer your questions because the information for F-111B beyond its prototype and pre-production stages is very limited or nonexistent. If someone finds more information, it would be great to share them here!

5 Likes

There’s another, the F-111D with Sparrows ;)

I pray gaijin is willing to add the sparrows to it, given the lack of info regarding its compatibility with rails, wiring, systems/electronics and such. All I could find is that the radar of the F-111D is capable of guiding a semi active radar homing missile, but not much else. And especially no proof of it ever being mounted…