Calibre Wings CA721407A US Navy Grumman F-14A Tomcat Fleet Defense Fighter - VF-142 "Ghostriders" [Clean Version] (1:72 Scale)
"Obsolete weapons do not deter."
- British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
The F-14 Tomcat program was initiated when it became obvious that the weight and maneuverability issues plaguing the U.S. Navy variant of the Tactical Fighter Experimental (TFX) (F-111B) would not be resolved to the Navy's satisfaction. The Navy requirement was for a fleet air defense fighter (FADF) with the primary role of intercepting Soviet bombers before they could launch missiles against the carrier group. The Navy also wanted the aircraft to possess inherent air superiority characteristics. The Navy strenuously opposed the TFX, which incorporated the Air Force's requirements for a low-level attack aircraft, fearing the compromises would cripple the aircraft, but were forced to participate in the program at direction of then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara who wanted "joint" solutions to the service aircraft needs to reduce developmental costs. The prior example of the F-4 Phantom which was a Navy program later adopted by the USAF (under similar direction) was the order of the day. Vice Admiral Thomas Connolly, DCNO for Air Warfare took the developmental F-111A for a flight and discovered it was unable to go supersonic and had poor landing characteristics. He later testified to Congress about his concerns against the official Department of the Navy position and in May 1968, Congress killed funding for the F-111B allowing the Navy to pursue an answer tailored to their requirements.
NAVAIR shortly issued an RFP for the Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX), a tandem two-seat fighter with maximum speed of Mach 2.2 and a secondary close air support role. Of the five companies that submitted bids (four of which incorporated variable-geometry wings as on the F-111), McDonnell Douglas and Grumman were selected as finalists in December 1968, and Grumman won the contract in January 1969. Grumman had been a partner on the F-111B, and had started work on an alternative when they saw the project heading south, and so had an edge on its competitors. Their early design mock-ups and cost projections were floated among Navy brass as an alternative to the F-111B.
The winning Grumman design reused the TF30 engines from the F-111B, though the Navy planned on replacing them with the F401-PW-400 engines then under development by Pratt and Whitney for the Navy (in parallel with the related F100 for the USAF). Though lighter than the F-111B, it was still the largest and heaviest U.S. fighter to ever fly from an aircraft carrier, its size a consequence of the requirement to carry the large AWG-9 radar and AIM-54 Phoenix missiles, also from the F-111B and an internal fuel load of 16,000 lbs (7300 kg). The F-14 would also share a similar inlet duct, wing, and landing gear geometry with Grumman's A-6 Intruder.
The F-14 first flew on December 21st, 1970, just 22 months after Grumman was awarded the contract, and reached Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 1973. While the Marine Corps was interested in the F-14 and went so far as to send pilots to VF-124 to train as instructors, they were never fully sold on the aircraft and pulled out when the stores management system for ground attack munitions was left undeveloped, leaving the aircraft incapable of dropping air-to-ground munitions (these were later developed in the 1990s).
Pictured here is a stunning 1:72 scale diecast replica of a US Navy F-14A Tomcat Fleet Defense Fighter that was attached to VF-142 "Ghostriders". Pictured here is the "clean" or factory fresh version.
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Release Date: September 2020
Historcial Account: "Ghostriders" - VF-142 Ghostriders was a US Navy fighter squadron established on August 24th, 1948, as VF-193, it was redesignated VF-142 on October 15th, 1963, and disestablished on April 30th, 1995.
The squadron deployed on the March 8th, 1990, to the Mediterranean for a six month deployment once again with Ike. Ghostriders aircrew engaged many NATO aircraft in exercise Dragon Hammer 90, and the new F-14Bs proved to be superior performers. The Ike transited the Suez Canal on August 8 in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Ike and Airwing 7 were the first to arrive and took up station in the Red Sea in support of Operation Desert Shield. The first ever Red Sea battle group was well protected under the watchful eyes of the F-14B flying combat air patrol. The squadron exceeded 2300 flight hours and logged over 1200 arrested landings in their new Tomcats. The Ghostriders maintenance did an outstanding job in maintaining the new systems, and the squadron completed 1227 of 1229 assigned sorties. With a conflict in the Persian Gulf brewing, the Ghostriders took a short break after returning, but quickly got back on an accelerated turnaround schedule in case the need arose for more carriers in the Middle East.
In October 1990, the squadron got in a quick at sea period for some carrier refresher. From the end of November to the end of December saw the squadron completing the most successful FFARP ever with an 11.5:1 kill ratio. This earned the squadron the FFARP trophy for 1990. The Ghostriders quickly resumed full training as the crisis in the Middle East loomed. The squadron combined regular turnaround training with constant carrier qualification readiness to provide a ready asset. After the crisis passed the next deployment was finally set for September 1991. The Eisenhower departed Norfolk on September 26, 1991 for a 6 month deployment to the Persian Gulf. While acting as a deterrent to regional aggression, the Ghostriders participated in many joint and multi-national exercises throughout the 6 month in the region. On the way home, the Ike was tasked to be the focal point of Teamwork 92, a large multi-national exercise in the North Atlantic.
After a brief break that followed their 6 month deployment, the Ghostriders returned to full speed preparing for their transition to the USS George Washington (CVN-73). The newest carrier in the fleet welcomed CVW-7 in the early fall of 1992 and quickly got underway with a six-week shakedown cruise.
Early 1993 saw the Ghostriders excel once again in FFARP against adversaries of VF-43. With the new emphasis on using Tomcat in an air-to-ground role, the Ghostriders developed an entirely new syllabus for FFARP which incorporated the F-14B as self-escorted strike-fighters. The squadron then spent several weeks in the Spring flying as adversaries for the US Air Force Weapons School in Nevada. While in this detachment at Nellis AFB, the aircrew continued to train as strikers by dropping live Mk-80 series bombs and the first Rockeye delivery of a fleet F-14. The Ghostriders pushed into the Summer of '93 with a brief at sea period for carrier training and integration with the other squadrons of CVW-7. Immediately following, the squadron completed the newly developed air-to-ground intensive AARP training. The new syllabus emphasized the latest in F-14B strike tactics. The Ghostriders deployed in May, 1994, on board USS George Washington (CVN-73) for a six-month cruise. Their work included peace keeping operations over Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq. For their exceptional work they were awarded the Battle "E" and Golden Wrench. Unfortunately in the climate of budget cuts and air wing reorganization, VF-142 was disestablished in April 1995.