I can’t imagine any coming DCS Module causing as many simmers out there to wonder in text, print or aloud, with perhaps a touch of despair; “How Soon?” as Leatherneck’s DCS: F-14A/B Tomcat and the DCS:F/A-18C Hornet. I’m no different in principal than most of you in the simmer community. Since experience tempered(seasoned?) by age has taught me it helps not one iota to speed things up, I kinda put my anticipation into a compartment, and focus on the things, that make these two coming additions so compelling as to make them what they are: Flying Legends. I couldn’t well do that without a little historical perspective , now could I?
1964 was, like this year an election year. president Lyndon B. Johnson was running for re-election against Se. Barry S. Goldwater. It was also the year that General Dynamics roll out the first example of the F-111,up until then known as the TFX(Tactical Fighter Experimental) It wa immediately striking in that it featured the first operational variable geometry wing, then popularly referred to as a “swing wing”, pivoting backward or forward to increase or decrease the wing sweep, and featured a side-by-side seating, similar to the A-6 intruder. There were to be two variants, one for the U.S. Air Force, the F-111A and the F-111B for the U.S. Navy. Now here is where it gets a little weird. While the F-111A, was planned as a strike platform; the F-111B’s role was to be Fleet Air Defense. That particular variant would be outfitted to carry the AIM-54 Phoenix and fitted with the AN/AWG-9 Pulse Doppler Radar.( Sound Familiar?) While both variants had some difficulties during development, the Air Forces’ F-111A went on to become operational and , eventually, went on to become a first-class strike system, the naval version in the face of changing requirements, was cancelled and most examples(7, I believe, were scrapped. Grumman Aircraft of Bethpage, NY presented the navy with Model 303, an entirely new design, that would carry over the TF-30 Turbofans and the weapons and fire control, and sensors, and a similar but technically advanced wing sweep mechanism. Viola’. The Tomcat we all know and love was born. First flight was at Long Island, NY; 21 December 1970. Subsequently went operational with the U.S.Navy in September 1974. Since then the Tomcat has received numerous system upgrades, the first being an engine upgrade to the General Electric F-110 which offered considerable improvement over the Pratt & Whitney TF-30s
The Tomcat distinguished it self in its first air to air combat over the Gulf of Sidra, when they the were approached by two Libyan Su-22 fitters 19 August 1981. Both Sukhoi was subsequently shot down after firing on the two Tomcats. A second incident involving two Libyan Mig-23 Flogger, ended with both Libyan planes being downed. not bad for a first and second inning. This fabulous warplane went on to become something of a movie star, in iconic naval action motion picture, ‘Top Gun”. Who among us doesn’t remember; “I feel the need for speed” as ‘Maverick’ an ‘Goose’, high-fived each other on the ramp, or the opening scenes on the carrier deck at dawn, wind and jet wash tearing at the deck crews as they performed their jobs with steely confidence amid the crackling roar of firing afterburners, each plane leaping of the flight deck ,clawing for ‘sky’. jeez; I still get ‘chicken skin’, thinking about, as do we all. for me it goes back a little further, back to William Holden in “Bridges at Toko Ri”. In that movie’ Lt. Brubaker(Holden) was a Grumman F-9 Panther driver, and WW2 veteren who had been called back to duty for the Korean Conflict. I like that one too. Naval Ops in DCS World? Show me the way.