The General Dynamics F-111 resulted from the Tactical Fighter Experimental (TFX) project of 1961, in which an attempt was made to create a swing-wing fighter for several roles for the US Navy and US Air Force. After edging out a Boeing design, General Dynamics teamed up with Grumman so that the latter firm, an experienced builder of carrier-based aircraft, could build the F-111 variant seen as early as 1961 as a replacement for the US Navy F-4 Phantom. The first USAF General Dynamics F-111A flew on 21 December 1964 and the first US Navy Grumman F-111B went aloft on 18 May 1965. Although its variable-geometry configuration was the principal advancement found in the F-111, the swing-wing worked perfectly from the outset. But the F-111B proved too heavy and in other ways unsuited to carrier-deck operations and was cancelled in May 1968 after only nine airframes had been delivered.
In addition to 17 F-111As for development work, 141 went to Tactical Air Command, with first deliveries to the 474th Tactical Fighter Wing at Nellis AFB, Nevada beginning in 1968. These were powered by two 8392kg afterburning thrust Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-3 turbofans. In March 1968, six F-111As of the wing's 428th Tactical Fighter Squadron under Colonel Ivan H. Dethman were rushed to Takhli, Thailand, to begin combat operations against North Vietnam. The first three aircraft launched on the first three missions vanished for ever, although the detachment later flew 55 missions successfully. The USAF discovered, as a prisoner of war from this deployment would later confirm, that a tailplane problem caused uncontrollable pitch-up and roll. This failure in the flying control system caused the aircraft to break up in flight without North Vietnamese assistance! A separate fatique problem caused wing spar cracks and, in 1969, resulted in the loss of an F-111A when its wing was torn off. In 1969, the entire fleet of 300 aircraft was grounded while an exhaustive structural review programme remedied these problems.
The Strategic Air Command's FB-111A, operating with two wings, is a very long-range variant powered by two 9230kg afterburning thrust Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-7 turbofans, with modified inlets, long-span wing, and provision for nuclear or thermonuclear weapons or up to 50 340kg HE bombs; 76 FB-111As were built.
The EF-111A, officially named Raven but called 'Electric Fox', is a Grumman conversion of the airframe, resulting in a dedicated tactical jamming system and electronic warfare aircraft. Painted off-white and distinguished by a large fincap radome housing receiver antennae, the EF-111A flew in production form on 28 June 1981 and entered service with a USAF unit in England in 1984.
Twenty-four F-111C 'Aardvarks', the informal nickname for all fighter-bomber variants were delivered to Australia in 1973 after lengthy delays. The F-111C differs from the F-111A model in having a longer-span wing and stronger landing gear. Four F-111Cs have been converted to the reconnaissance role and the remainder, like many USAF 'Aardvarks', are being equipped with Pave Tack pods for laser acquisition of ground targets.
The F-111D, F-111E and F-111F are variants of what has become a
highly specialised long-range strike aircraft ideal as a counter to the Soviet Sukhoi Su-24 and as a means of hitting targets in eastern Europe from the British Isles. These variants are located respectively at Cannon AFB, New Mexico, RAF Upper Heyford and RAF Lakenheath, England. Production amounted to 96 F-111D, 94 F-111Es and 106 F-111Fs.
The F-111H was a proposed strategic bomber once perceived as an ideal interim step for the 1980s when it appeared that the Rockwell B-1 had been cancelled. The F-111K was the intended version for the UK's Royal Air Force. Neither was built, and total production amounted to 562 airplanes.
The F-111 crew sits side-by-side, the pilot (aircraft commander) routinely referring to his weapons systems officer as a YOT ('you over there'). Both are enclosed in a capsule which separates from the aircraft in an emergency, a proven escape system which obviates the need for ejection seats. When F-111s returned to North Vietnam in 1972, this two-man, terrain-hugging attack system proved eminently successful, a success repeated during the 1986 raid on Tripoli by F-111Fs flying from RAF Lakenheath. F-111s will remain part of the NATO commitment for years to come, though some will be replaced around 1990 by the McDonnell Douglas F-15E Eagle.
I was with Blue 2 at RAF Upper Heyford 1974 to 1978. Went to the 27th Wing in 1978 back to the UK to work A10s with the 81st Wing from 1980 to 1984 . Sent to Cannon 27th Wing to work the F-111D with the 523rd AMU and a maintainer 45274 as Crew Chief of 68-114 until I retired a an E-7 in 1991.Good times !
I was at Mt Home AFB from 1981-FEB 1984 I was in the 389TH Yellow Squadron, in Supply under the new COSO project. I worked the graveyard shift from 2400-0800 mostly. looking for friends that remember me. I was 6'2" 23 years old when I got out. Looking for my Supervisors Sgt Pontomski, Sgt Barboa, or any other supply personal on the other shifts And any maintenance friends. I lived in the dorms and was part of the Honor Guard Team as well. I have a lot of pictures of my friends,,,,and soon will be posting them on my web site: paniks.com
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The Dreadful F-111 was a result the thinking of Robert McNamara, the equally dreadful "Whiz-Kid" Secretary of Defense who came from the world of business and banking, and knew nothing about the military. Among other things, McNamara couldn't understand why the military needed different aircraft to cary out different missions, and could see no reason why the Air Force and the Navy should not use the same aircraft. It seemed to McNamara, who was a mostly a systems analyst, that the military would FAR more efficient if it had only ONE combat aircraft that could do EVERYTHING. The result was the F-111, which was supposed to operate off both land bases for the Air Force and carrier decks for the Navy, and to carry out fighter, bomber and reconnaissance missions. I the end it served the Air Force only in a limited capacity as a bomber and in the electronic jamming roles. The Navy rejected it outright as too heavy and underpowered to operate off any of their carrier decks.
Dave Ross: I got to Nellis in June 1973 in flight line A-shop, worked days a short spell, then got smart & went to nights...your name seems familiar; I remember a bunch of guys getting back from Tahkli that year: Hashimoto, Michaelson; I worked with Steve Tihen, Kenji UYESUGI, Randy Goodner to name a few...went to Heyford then Mtn Home, got out in '77 been here ever since then...great state, Idaho; run into F111 folks every so often
After tech school at Chaunte AFB I was stationed at Mtn Home AFB, ID. As a new API (autopilot instruments) specialist I was assigned to the 366th AGS / 390th AMU. Better known as Green Section. We worked in the hangers near the engine shop. The F111A was a great plane to work on. Along the line I was able to get engine run certified. What a blast to set on the ramp or better yet the trim pad and run the engines. I was also pick for a 1 hour flight. Capt "Buck" Nelson was the pilot I flew with. AMAZING. My OIC, whose name I cant remember, allowed me to wear his flight suit complete with patches and green scarf for my flight. I was at Mtn Home from the spring of 1978 to Nov 1981. I crossed trained and ended my Air Force career working for NSA in 1986. Great times, friends, and memories. firstname.lastname@example.org
Please email me Kenneth Miller was my uncle and if you remember me I was stationed in Raf Lakenheath Eng . I came to your home many times. Please email me. I also have a few years on the F-111. That was almost 40 years ago cousin. My mother was Evelyn Clark . Email me
The F-111 was supposed to satisfy Robert McNamara's requirement for one single type of aircraft that would fulfill every combat requirement: USAF fighter, ground attack, reconnaissance and strategic bomber; as well as Navy carrier-based fighter, reconnaissance and attack-bomber. It was an overly-ambitious concept that could never have worked because, when you try to please everybody, you invariably end up satisfying nobody. Right off the bat the Navy, for one, wanted nothing whatever to do with it. Still, I suppose, it must be acknowledged that the Australians seem to have liked them well enough.
I was an instrument /autopilot tech on the F111D at Cannon AFB from 71 to 74. I never understood the bad reputation this airplane had. I thought it was and still is an amazing airplane. Its AFCS was very high tech. I don't think that some of the pilots fully understood its capabilities. I was an instructor at Chanute from 74-77 and an FTD instructor at Mountain Home I'd from 77-80.
I was f 111 general foreman for ppg(Pittsburgh plate glass)in Creighton pa. we developed special glass for windshields and canopies. all new technologies for these parts.cost per panel was $20,000.lots more info available.oct,3,2013
my base was mt home 1980-1984 i'm trying to find col.colman our wing comander for the 366tfw i was in the amu 389th trying to get an f111a from the boneyard and brought down to florida....any info would be great. great bird.
The RAAF is about to place retired RAAF F-111C A8-109 on display. I'm trying to find out if A8-109 (which originally flew with the USAF as F-111A 67-109) could be the highest time F-111 in the world at 7946 airframe hours. Any USAF F-111 folk able to provide authoritative data which would beat that?