Best naval fighter of the mid-1960s?

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It's pre-1968 and the Mig-21 threat is alive and real. The F-4J hasn't earned its combat wings in Vietnam yet. As Adm. David L. McDonald, Chief of Naval Operations, which naval fighter would you have liked to go into combat with? Here's the list of contenders: F-8E Crusader F-4B Phantom F8U-3 Super Crusader F11F-1F Super Tiger F-8E Crusader Pros: Gun armament, maneuverability, cheap (<$1MM), ability to operate from Essex-class carriers Cons: Inferior climb/acceleration performance to Mig-21, range/endurance (no wet pylons), avionics, A2G capability (only 2 pylons), poor landing characteristics F-4B Phantom Pros: 2-man crew & big radar, climb/acceleration performance, A2G payload Cons: No gun, poor maneuverability, poor range/endurance without drop tanks (only 1h CAP), expensive ($2MM), cannot operate from Essex-class carriers F8U-3 Super Crusader Pros: Best climb/acceleration performance, gun armament, excellent range/endurance on internal fuel, maneuverability Cons: Expensive (only 10% less than F-4B), avionics overload (one-man cockpit), poor maintainability, very limited A2G, cannot operate from Essex-class carriers F11F-1F Super Tiger Pros: Best maneuverability, gun armament, climb/altitude performance almost on par with F-4B (Mach 2 with 2 Sidewinders), good range/endurance (2.2hrs with Mach 1.5 capable drop tanks), cheap ($1MM), lowest maintenance requirements (30 man hours vs 40hrs+), good A2G payload (7 pylons, 9,000lbs), ability to operate from Essex-class carriers Cons: Avionics overload (same radar as Super Crusader), range on internal fuel only slightly better than F-4, limited bring-back capability (For a detailed read on the F11F-1F's performance, read here: http://ebook30.com/history/history/152747/grummans-mach-2-international-f11f-1f-supertiger-naval-fighters-series-no-44.html) My own verdict Surprisingly, the F11F-1F Super Tiger was a really good all-round contender, with good A2A and A2G performance across the board for half the price of the F-4B. In particular, it could have significantly improved the effectiveness of the Essex strike carriers by doing a better job in both A2G and A2A than the A-4/F-8 combo. Could also have been an interesting what-if for the Aussies, Canadians and French. Unfortunately the USN wasn't interested, having already settled on the F-8... Any thoughts?
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Would love to make this a poll, but can't see how to do that. Does anyone know?
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F-11 was a cool looking plane. Not sure it was the best, but it should have been procured over its rivals like the F-104.

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You usually make a poll at the same time as the thread. And doesn't this thread just scream out for the naval aviation section?

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I didn't have the "create poll" option. Are only some posters allowed to create polls? :confused: I could have put this in the Naval Aviation thread, but since that's mostly full of warship discussions and since these fighters were just as good as their land-based peers I thought this discussion would interest others in the Mil Aviation area. ;)
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Phabulous phantom.
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I'd take the Super Crusader as an interceptor (was Sparrow capable) while leaving the ground pounding to A-1, A-4 and A-6s. If I couldn't have that, then the Crusader, as though the lack of wet pylons was a hinderance, it did have IFR capability, and could carry 4 sidewinders plus a pair of Bullpups, of a bunch of Zunis on the fuselage and wing pylons.

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The F11F-1F Super Tiger looks almost exactly like the normal F11F but is a totally different beast (Mach 2+ vs. Mach 1.2, 3x the climb rate). The Japanese, Germans, Swiss and Canadians all preferred it over the F-104 and Mirage III, but Grumman sadly didn't have the "commercial acumen" (read: bribes and flashy presentation skills) of Lockheed. I found a few pics (very rare to find them online). The best source is the eBook I linked in my first post. http://i88.photobucket.com/albums/k190/Mike_Fiz/F11_Supertiger.jpg http://www.north-wales-collectables.com/images/g856.gif

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I'd take the Super Crusader as an interceptor (was Sparrow capable) while leaving the ground pounding to A-1, A-4 and A-6s. If I couldn't have that, then the Crusader, as though the lack of wet pylons was a hinderance, it did have IFR capability, and could carry 4 sidewinders plus a pair of Bullpups, of a bunch of Zunis on the fuselage and wing pylons.
Agree that the Super Crusader was the best interceptor of the lot. However, what did the plain vanilla Crusader have over the Super Tiger, except for a slightly better fuel fraction? (I'm a big fan of the Crusader, so it's an honest question;)) The Super Tiger would have had a retractable IFR probe just like the F11F. It could have carried 4 Sidewinders plus 2 150gal drop tanks and still have had 4 free stores for Sparrows or A2G stores!
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Well, I'd say the main advantage of the Crusader was that it was actually in service. I love the F-11, and the Super Tiger could have been a great aircraft... But if we're going into the "what if" category, take the F-8, and plumb the wing hardpoints for fuel. Then steal some of the advances from the A-7, such as the M-61 cannon instead of the 4 Colts, additional pylons (overwing sparrow launchers?) and perhaps retain the FFAR bay for dedicated A2G work. Hell, 6 Zunis packed in there, plus 8 on the fuselage and 24 on 6 wing pylons (2 underwing and one overwing per side) could really ruin someone's day. But then again that's what the A-7 was intended to do. The only way to put Sparrows on the fuselage would be to either recess them in a longer fuselage like in the Super Crusader, or perhaps put them on stubby pylons ahead and up from the maingear. And then there's the issue of the radar... The F-8 really has no buisness hauling dumb bombs, and a 4-Bullpup loadout in a slightly stretched dual cockpit TF-8 style would probably work best. Would help with the workload if you did try to incorporate a BVR missile too.

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I partly agree, but still the Super Tiger was hardly a stretch of the imagination. Aerodynamically it was almost identical to the Tiger, with a few tweaks to optimize high Mach performance. Its performance is well understood, since the 2 prototypes flew extensively and received positive reviews from all evaluators, including the USN, USAF, JSDF, GAF, RCAF and Swiss airforce! Similarly, the Super Tiger's A2G payloads weren't completely imaginary, since a few stores configurations were flown by the Super Tiger prototypes and Grumman claimed a max external load of 9,000lbs. Flight tested configurations included 2x 1,000lb bombs to Mach 1.4 and 1x 1,000lb Mk83 bomb, 2x drop tanks and 2x Sidewinders. This was years before the Crusader ever tried its hand at A2G, and years before the A4 was able to fly with five pylons (A4E first flight mid-1961). So it's almost certain that the Super Tiger would have offered more A2G payload than the A4E, and we already know that range was on par. As for the A7, it didn't reach Vietnam until 1967. So overall we're talking about at least 7-8 years when the Super Tiger, with no further modifications was the best single-seat fighter AND probably also the best single-seat bomber available to any Navy...

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I´ve read somewhere that the Super Tiger wasn´t even a naval fighter, but was intended as a competitor to the F-104G in Europe. Not only Grumman lacked Lockheed´s "commercial acumen" but they weren´t willing to concede a full production license to European Countries, like Lockheed did with the F-104. I don´t know, but including in the poll machines that never really existed (in their operational form) is a bit unreal. So I would say the F-8E would have been the best choice available to counteract the MiG-21, maybe balancing the slightly inferior performances with the higher average skill of American naval pilots. I actually wonder why the Navy never opted for a naval version of the F-4E with additional internal fuel and the gun. Ciao Stefano

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Best US Navy fighter of the 60s Anything made by Grumman would be the best. :D

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PHANTOM - YAAAYYYYY!!!!
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So overall we're talking about at least 7-8 years when the Super Tiger, with no further modifications was the best single-seat fighter AND probably also the best single-seat bomber available to any Navy...
Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have seen the Super Tiger in service, however one main drawback from what you've described is being a Mach 2 interceptor for fleet defense armed only with Sidewinders. The lack of BVR missiles, no matter what the quality, is a hinderance at that late of a date. It really is more of a carrier based F-104G. The Phantom outshines it in this case with its nifty trick of being able to carry a complete missile loadout all the while keeping 5 pylons free for gunpods and external tanks.
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The Super Tiger simply came along too late. To be sure, the J-79 was almost a generation more advanced than the J-57, but the J-65 was very poor engine indeed and ruined the credibility of the Tiger to begin with. Arguable, the Super Tiger seems to have had superior flight characteristics in comparison to the F-104, but Grumman had lost any opportunity for a USN sale, the F-104 might have been easier to manufacture overseas, and Grumman didn't employ the same "sales techniques" as Lockheed. A few years later, there was a major scandal concerning how Lockheed managed to rack up all of those foreign sales......
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The Super Tiger simply came along too late. To be sure, the J-79 was almost a generation more advanced than the J-57, but the J-65 was very poor engine indeed and ruined the credibility of the Tiger to begin with.
The F11F-1F Super Tiger was with a J79. Did you mean to imply it used the J65? The J65 was the licensed Sapphire, same jet used in the Starfighter prototype. It went into the B-57 and Skyhawk, too. Considerably lighter engine than what went into the production Starfighter and Super Tiger prototypes.
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I know the tiger was offered to Canada, and we did like it. I wonder if the tiger could have been flown off a Majestic class carrier. That could have made a good sales pitch. Buying one type of aircraft for both airforce and navy. Might have helped keep the Bonnie in service a little longer.

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F11F-1 Tiger: J65-W-18 (US-built Sapphire 100 w/afterburner); thrust 7,400 lb (10,500 lb); weight 3,485 lb; length 130"/181”; diameter 37.7”; SFC .91/?; airflow 120 lb/sec F11F-1F Super Tiger: J79-GE-3B; thrust 9,600 lb (14,800 lb); weight 3,255 lb; length 110”/207.5”; diameter 30.4” (38.3” over afterburner); SFC .85/1.97; airflow ~150-170 lb/sec The J79-GE-8 (&-15) used in the A-5 Vigilante & F-4B/C/D from 1960 produced a thrust of 10,900 lb (17,000 lb). Therefore, a developed Super Tiger would be a nasty beast, with the later J-79. Another option for a "Improved Tiger" would be simply a better version of the engine it already had. The RAF's Javelin FAW 8 fighter had the following engine: Sapphire 200: ASSa.7LR (Limited-use Reheat); thrust 11,000 lb (12,390 lb above 20,000' only); weight (3,180 lb); length 125”/293”; diameter 37.5”; SFC ~.88; airflow 150 lb/sec Also available was: ASSa.9 (tested before 1963, not placed in production); thrust 12,700 lb; other data similar to ASSa.7 Fit the ASSa.7 or 9 with an all-altitude-rated afterburner, and you get a pretty nice engine.

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The two Super-Tiger prototypes were modified from stock Tigers, but by the time they had proven themselves the USN had already decided to go with the faster Crusader... in a good part because Grumman had other aircraft in production, and had won the contract for the A2F (A-6 Intruder)... while Vought had only the F7U Cutlass which had just been canceled, and was therefore in danger of going out of business... "the industrial base must be preserved", eh what?
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Let's say the F-11F-1F wins the competition over the F-8. For fraternal reasons that means they never put an order in for the A-6. What competing design gets built in the A-6's place?