Did the Navy and the world miss out on the F11F-1F Super Tiger

Discussion in 'Post-War' started by davparlr, Jul 11, 2015.

  1. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    In the early to mid-fifties, three, at or near Mach 2, air superiority fighters was developed by the AF and Navy, the F-104 Starfighter, the F8U Crusader, and the F11F-1F Super Tiger. All three powered by a single 16-18k lb thrust jet engine, the J-79 for the Starfighter and Super Tiger, and the J-57 for the Crusader. The following is a comparison of the three aircraft per Wikipedia adjusted to data from "American Combat Planes" by Wagner.

    Weight empty (lbs)
    F11F 16.5k
    F8U 15.5k
    F-104 13k

    Weight (combat) (lbs)
    F11F 21443
    F8U 23659*
    F-104 17768
    * While the F8U had more fuel than the F11F, it was not as aerodynamically clean as the F11F as the F11F was over 100 mph faster at sea level with similar thrust, therefore, the F8U would use more fuel to perform the same mission.

    Speed max (mph/M/altitude(1000 ft))
    F11F 1400/2.04/40k (note this max speed but at a higher altitude than the other two). Speed at 35k is 1325/2.01
    F8U 1013/1.53/35k
    F-104 1324/2.01/35k

    Range
    Roughly equivalent

    Ceiling (ft)
    F11F 50k (some sources say 59k)
    F8U 58k
    F-104 55k


    Thrust to Weight
    F11F .70
    F8U .68
    F-104 .84


    Wing loading (combat) (lbs/sqft)

    F11F 86
    F8U 63
    F-104 90

    The F11F-1F was an impressive performing aircraft for the era and seemed to be quite competitive with contemporary designs. It was very fast, matching the speed of the vaunted F-104 with the same engine and considerable faster than the F8U, 300 mph at altitude and 100 mph on the deck. It was obviously a great handling aircraft as the Blue Angels flew the F11F for many years. Also, had the Navy bought the F11-1F, it would have the same engine as the F4H Phantom II and the A5J Vigilante greatly simplifying logistics. This brought up a question, did the Navy, and the world, miss out on the F11F-1F?

    I can kind of understand why the Navy did not end up with the F11F-1F instead of the F8U. Grumman did not buy into the more powerful engines coming down the line as Lockheed and Vaught did, possibly trying to keep the weight of the F11F down. That was a mistake however and left it barely meeting the competition spec. The F8U, with its more powerful engine was clearly superior and, by the time Grumman switched to the J-79 engine, the Crusader was already in production.

    Foreign military sales were another issue. There is no doubt the F11F would have been a far better choice for foreign sales than the F-104. It was faster; no doubt better maneuvering, and by far a safer aircraft, especially for many weak foreign pilots. In my pilot training class there was one Afghanistan student who had taken two years to get through the one year course. His father was head of the Afghanistani Air Force and the USAF was determined to graduate him, dropping him back from class to class. He was finally passed and went on to fly, you guessed it, an F-104. There is probably a black hole with his name on it somewhere. Many more pilots would have survived service had the F11F-1F been the selection. Unfortunately, there was a big bribery issue going on against Lockheed at that time. Too bad, a possibly great aircraft never got to show its stuff.
     
  2. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The wing loading looks like what did it in. I bet its low speed handling was dicey.
     
  3. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    That may be why Grumman selected the smaller engine in the first place. perhaps they should have selected a slightly larger wing, reducing some speed. It was not significantly higher wing loading above the developing F4H (15% over the RF4). The significant speed advantage the F11F-1F had over the F8U may have made an acceptable trade off. However, the wing loading was still less than the F-104s, and I am sure it would have been easier to fly and probably been a better and safer foreign sales aircraft.
     
  4. Zipper730

    Zipper730 Member

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    How did the F11F-1F compare to the F11F-1?

    You also have to consider the ramifications on thrust/weight. The J79's had thrust ratings that were similar to the J57 with a higher afterburner fraction.

    I thought the F8U-1 could do at least 1.7 mach if not Mach 2.0 (I remember, they planned to add area ruling, and should performance not add up, they'd make additional modifications to get it to Mach 2.0). One must consider that the actual capability is low-balled, and sometimes out of context (say 36,000 feet instead of 65,000 feet where it'd do best).

    I can't really vouch for the F8U but, the F-100 didn't handle as good at altitude so far as I know...

    Wing loading is not an absolute measurement for a plane's maneuverability.

    The F-11F's was around 4, the F8U around 3.4, and the F-104 around 2.4. A big difference, and I've seen footage of the F11F-1 maneuvering, it didn't look bad.

    I think the F11F-1F had a bigger wing (not sure by how much), and a slightly different span.

    Actually the Germans were interested in it for their fighter-bomber, the Japanese for their interceptor.

    MAP admittedly preferred land-based fighters, and Lockheed had engaged in systematic bribery...

    Really shows what power can do...

    Actually if Tommy Thomason is correct, the F-11 was generally well remembered for it's basic handling, it had few handling quirks and vices. It just didn't have enough power.
     
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