Grumman F-14 Tomcat
Considered by many as the most beautiful jet fighter, at least of its generation, the F‑14 Tomcat is also famous for the movie 'Top Gun'. Typically for a fighter designed in the early 1970s the F‑14 Tomcat has double vertical stabilisers and rectangular, wedge shaped air intakes at the side of the fuselage. The vertical stabilisers are tilted outwards a bit, while the air intakes are tilted inwards. There is quite some space between the engines.
The F‑14 has high mounted, variable sweep wings. The main gear retracts in the wings leading edges. The nose gear has two wheels. Up front is a two seat cockpit with a canopy that opens in one piece.
The different versions of the F-14 can be distinguished by looking at:
- the shape of the nozzles (exhausts)
- the presence of extendable vanes in the wing gloves
- the number of sensors under the nose
The original version of the Tomcat was powered by Pratt & Whitney TF30 engines. Its exhausts have relatively short nozzles. Another key feature of this version are the triangular vanes that can be extened from the wing gloves, i.e. the leading edge extensions that fit over the pivot points of the wings.
Several upgrades, including the switch to General Electric F110 engines, lead to the F‑14A+, but this designation was soon changed to F‑14B. These engines have different exhaust nozzles than the TF30s of the F‑14A, with more clearly visible afterburner petals. Another change is the removal of the wing glove vanes. All F‑14Bs are converted F‑14As.
F-14D & F-14D(R) Super Tomcat
At the same time the F-14B was developed as upgrade to the F-14A, Grumman also made the new F-14D. This Super Tomcat shares most of the updates of the F-14B, including the General Electric F110 engines and removal of the wing glove vanes. Additionally, the F-14D has digital displays in the cockpit and a different radar. Multiple other systems were upgraded as well, resulting in a second sensor pod under the nose, nest to the existing one.
While F-14Ds are newly built aircraft, F-14D(R)s are converted F-14As (with the R standing for rebuild).
Confusion possible with
Being of the same generation, the F-15 Eagle is one of the fighters than mostly resembles the F-15. The F-15 however has cropped delta wings, straight vertical stabilisers, a single nose wheel and straight air intakes. Finally the F-14 always has a two seat cockpit.
The MiG-25 and MiG-31 are also similarly shaped as the F-14. However they have no (long) bubble canopy, but straight vertical stabilisers, fixed wings and air intakes.
The F-22 Raptor also has two outward tilted fins, a bubble canopy and rectangular air intakes, but of a different shape when viewed from the side. Also its has regular, fixed delta wings.
The Fulcrum has the same basic characteristics as the F-15, with one big difference: the wedge shaped air intakes are underneath the fuselage instead of on the side of the fuselage. And of course the wings are fixed. The same applies to the Sukhoi Su-27 family.