Welcome to Hollywood. Correct me if i'm wrong, but isn't the F-14 on the lower side of the manueverability scale? I thought i read somewhere that
the Tomcat's size and bulkiness held it back in that category. Some people liken flying the F-14 to driving a Greyhound bus around a
Hollywood indeed for both you and Emile are correct.
The F-14 was one of the few jets to hold a stabilized -30 to +80` AOA for quite awhile in the 70's. I wanna say they had to do it by rolling inverte
Unfortunately, the conditions where this could be applied in terms of weapons load and altitude/airspeed were freakishly small.
To quote Heater Heatley I believe, the F-14 will turn like a machine gun in a shopping cart, for all of about 4 seconds. Then it runs out of smash
and you had better have made your kill because it's going to be mushing along at max lift at drag (wings forward for all to see) trying desperately
to swallow enough dinosaurs to get back above 200-220 knots.
OTOH, the F-14 will also hold a fairly high rate (16.7 dps IIRR) sustained EM turn so long as you keep within a narrow speed/altitude band because the
intake ramps and operating AOA of a ca. 300 knot turn give it about 60,000lbs of thrust, even with the TF30 (one of the many 'tricks they don't tell
you' is exactly how much the ramp and exhaust pressure ratios effect dynamic as opposed to static thrust).
Neither of which means much if you are flying a jet with 18,000lbs of gas and a FletDefAlpha loadout, trying to get radar look angles (coming off a
FORCAP) at 20-30,000ft.
Because even with an unload, you are going to be struggling to keep the jet energized while sanitizing the volume and getting ready to get the Phoenix
A more common variation of that loadout (only 2 AIM-54 and as many as 3 AIM-7) would be typical for a 'hot' patrol in someplace like Sidra wherein
you are also flying lower to keep below the coastal GCI systems.
Either way, the Tomcat's 'fighting lift' curve is directly proportional to the variance between available slats and flaps vs. pancake you can
exploit at a given airspeed and AOA combinant. The two curves of high speed, medium sweep (no auxilliary surfaces) and low speed, 'everything
hangs' rate and radius meeting at a combination of relatively nose high wallow that burns E, //real quick//.
The result is a 'quick is to fast as agile is to maneuverable' platform which the Israeli's quickly proved (in comparitive evaluation against the
F-15) could be beaten, easily, using change up (lo-hi) energy maneuver from a neutral turn in point.
Using these simple tactics, they could and did routinely out horizontal -and- vertical play the Tomcat in the lowly (pre-P408) A-4H.
Later this was also proven out at Top Gun where, inevitably, using visual rules, the F-14s would try to come in high and fast to convert and saddle up
in a loaded bat turn down to conserve energy 'just like in the movie'.
The Scooter pilots, intimately familiar with their battlespace, would know where to look and would tally the smoking Toms approach from /miles/ before
their rollin and would gently rudder turn into them to deny the missile cone before /stomping/ opposite as the Tomcat' bank angle passed 20-30' and
make the kitty's bleed all their energy trying to reverse the inside-out turn.
At which point, depending on where F-14 #2 was (DA or LD), the Mongoose scooters which DID have the bigger engine would either snap one of the element
straight up and over (as the F-14 crew gawked) or would start a nested scissors movement designed to spit the belly side adversary out below the
Tomcat sill line.
And then they would just play gun lag in behind or make a missile clearance maneuver (totally 'virtual' as the Scooter only had the TACTS pylon)
across the top of the circle while the turkey kept bleeding down trying to chase the more energy efficient (low mass, tight to centerline = good
rolling moment control and 'reapplication' of lift vector) until the F-14 was waddling around like a ruptured duck. A fact made blatantly obvious
as not only were the wings full-forward but the monster stabs tried to make the engine nacelles effectively fly in different directions and often the
pilot was not only fighting lift at drag as his nose bunted up. But also some SERIOUS throttle limitations as dutch roll inertias and nose ranke
blanked off the inlets and jeopardized the airframe with any rapid throttle excursions.
The best way to employ the Tomcat (or indeed /any/ VG platform where lift is tied directly to sweep) WVR is low in lookup with missiles like the
AIMVAL Concept SS-2D which gave you 60+ degrees of boresight on a theoretical 6-10nm motor envelope. Providing you a missile and helmet cue system
which could be shot at F-5E's at distance (TVSU/TCS supported IDs) beyond what they could pick up the Tom's distinctive silouhette buried against
the ground clutter.
Especally with a working datalink handoff from another Tomcat or E-2 further back, the result is a completely passive _pre-merge_ engagement in which
Shoot, Shoot, Shoot, inplace turn and unload to run like scalded cats should puts the Toms out the side of the fight before the F-5's can react to
chase (those which are not morted out by the ump).
The alternative is to open up the 'secret capabilities' book and use Phoenix in direct or timed lofts with the trailing element supporting the
midcourse phase with shared-channel radar modes. The Phoenix will go about 17-22nm from low and up to 35 _if_ you give it good guidance preloads for
Either way will kill threats a long ways short of even the radar merge without doing /any/ of the 'pilot sh*t' that Tom Cruise would have you
believe requires starting with the enemy at your dead six 'too close for missiles'.
Unfortunately for the USN (who always end up 'closer than optimum' for sanity's bogey-bandit-intent sake, even in peacetime) the entire
ACEVAL/AIMVAL exercise was rigged toward the radar shot and that meant F-15's on high and the AMRAAM as a driving force in the midzone which should
have been ISRM dominanted.
Helmet sights, powered optics and widebore missiles with big motor impulse values went the way of the dodo, only to be 'reinvented' by the Russians
who know the first law: "As goes the intercept, so goes the fight'" and designed a vectoring GCI datalink plus simple weapons system handoff
doctrine to exploit it.
The result being called the MiG-29 and Archer.