Early Tomcat Drawing

Take a look at this early drawing of what would become the F-14 Tomcat:

Profile drawing of an early Tomcat concept. Note the very large single vertical fin and rudder and separate front and rear cockpit canopies. Generally, though, the overall planform very much resembles that of the eventual Tomcat configuration.

Click for a bigger version. For a much, much larger version, see Air & Space. (via Alert 5)


  1. If I remember correctly, they initially were going with a single vertical and then changed to the split version because the two got better flow at high angle of attack out there. They would have had to lose the chine when they did that because of the vortex burst problem that plagues the F-18 and F-22. The F-16 designers really wanted to put twin verticals on that airplane (you can see clearly where they would have gone if you look at the current design), but they were forced to the single version because they decided the vortex lift generated by the chine was a more important feature. F-22 was boxed into their vortex burst issues by the fact they needed the split vertical for stealth reasons and they needed the vortex lift for high angle of attack. If they could have gone with the canard variant, they wouldn’t have had these issues, but the idiot general in charge decided the canard was some sort of European thing and no USAF fighter was going to have one on his watch. His stupidity excluded Grumman’s ATF design from contention too. It never ceases to amaze me how my stupidity your tax dollar bought on that ATF program. If Lockmart had any aircraft designers any more they’d put a canard and twin verticals on the F-16 tomorrow. That move would breathe new life into the old bird, but since they’re not really interested in building airplanes any more it will never happen. Why should they build F-16s when they can build paper F-35s to replace them and make more profit? Who would be stupid enough to pay a contractor more to crank out a paper blizzard than to build hardware? Oh yeah, that would be us.

  2. Actually, a better approach might be to see if we can’t get a hold of the F-2 (an F-16 on steroids or Viper Growth Hormone) and give it an F135 engine like those on the F-35. How’s that for an improved F-16?

  3. Oh, I forgot to mention that the F-16 with twin canted verticals, a canard, and a more swept trailing edge on the wing would be quite stealthy. It would actually meet the $35M price tag the JSF people promised us, instead of being 2-3 times that fantasy number. Yet another reason they’ll never, never, never make that modification.

  4. I don’t think we need to outsource any more of our defense. The F-2 is already a sore subject with me.

  5. Personally, I’m bitter that they tossed the X-29 data into the circular file. In any event the F-35 was doomed the moment someone thought it would be neat to replace all those targeting pods with an integrated electronic suite. (which will be obsolete about two years before the first squadron goes live, but triples the planes cost) So end result is we are going to get underpowered, over-gunned but under ammo’d, short legged, quasi-stealth fighter, which is absolutely less capable then the aircraft its reported to replace. Hell, given the knowledge base, we could slap together a plane with at least 90% F-22 stealth (all aspect) for about 20 million. Throw in some basic modular avionics that could be upgraded as needed. The prototype could be built in under a year. (Note: Given the advances in datalinks – we don’t need every fighter to be decked out with all the bells and whistles) Final rant – stealth is great, stealth is good, but the only real use for stealth is to obtain air dominance. After air dominance is achieved, supremacy is achieved through the deliberate application of the B-52.

  6. Amen, James. Hell, they could be 2 years into building the B-52’s replacement right now as part of the KC-135 replacement program, but no, it had to be a civilian airplane to fill that role. One stupid move right after another. On an earlier subject, when I said more sweep to the trailing edge of the wing, I meant more forward sweep. Those of you familiar with the F-22 and F-35 know what I meant.