Grumman F11F Tiger

F-11F in MAPS large hangar • photo James Kohan

Aircraft's History:
Originally a Grumman test case to apply aerodynamic changes to the Grumman Cougar, the F11F evolved into a unique aircraft all its own.   Serving only 4 years with active Navy squadrons, the Tiger suffered from bad timing - it was put into service at the same time as the Chance Vought F-8 Crusader.  While faster and better handling at lower altitudes than the Crusader, it was about 300 mph slower at 35,000 feet, where it was thought most combat action would take place.  The Tigers saw the most time in service as part of the Blue Angels flight demonstration team, with whom it served from 1957 until 1969, when the flight team switched to using the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom.  Notable facts on the Tiger include the fact that instead of using normal wing construction techniques (thin skin over ribs), the F-11F wings and tail planes were milled from a single slab of alloy.  This will cause some challenges during the restoration process, as intragranular corrosion has caused issues with the wing and tail planes.  Unlike the normal 'skin over ribs' construction, repairing such damage is a more lengthy and time-consuming process.

"Seven U.S. Navy squadrons flew the F=11F-1: VF-21 and VF-33 in the Atlantic Fleet and VA-156 (re-designated VF-111 in January 1959), VF-24 (re-designated VF-211 in March 1959), VF-51, VF-121, and VF-191 in the Pacific Fleet.[3]

In service, the Tiger operated from the carriers Intrepid, Lexington, Hancock, Bon Homme Richard, Shangri-La, Forrestal, Saratoga and Ranger. The F=11F's career lasted only four years because its performance was inferior to the Vought F-8 Crusader and the J65 engine proved unreliable. Also, the range and endurance of the Tiger was found to be inadequate. Thus, the Navy cancelled all orders for the F=11F-1P reconnaissance version and only 199 F=11F-1 (F-11A) fighters were built.

The aircraft was withdrawn from carrier operations by 1961, it continued in service, however, in the Naval Air Training Command in south Texas at NAS Chase Fieldand NAS Kingsville, until the late 1960's. Students performed advanced jet training in the TF-9J Cougar, and upon completing that syllabus, were given a brief taste of supersonic capability with the F-11 before transitioning to fleet fighters.

While the F-11's fighter career was short, the Blue Angels performed in the aircraft from 1957–1968, when the Tiger was replaced by the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II.

Prior to the 1962 code unification, the fighter was known as the F-11F; after unification, it was re-designated as the F-11.

In 1973, two ex-Blue Angels F-11As were taken from storage at Davis-Monthan AFB and modified by Grumman as testbeds to evaluate in flight thrust control systems. No 141853 was fitted with a Rohr Industries thrust reverser and BuNo 141824 was kept in standard configuration as a chase plane. Tests of the inflight thrust reversal were carried out by Grumman at Calverton beginning in March 1974 and continued at NATC Patuxent River, Maryland until 1975. Following the completion of these tests, both planes were returned to storage at Davis Monthan AFB, these were the last Tigers to fly."1

MAPS Aircraft Background:
Officially part of the USN Collection, the F-11F is on indefinite loan from the U.S. Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL, to MAPS Air Museum for restoration purposes.
Performance & Specifications: 

Crew: 1 (carrier based)
Role: Fighter
Manufacturer: Grumman
First Flight: July 30, 1954
Entered Service: 1956
Retired in the United States: 1961
Produced: 1954-1959
Number Built: 200
Unit Cost: 
Engine: Wright J65-18 with 10,500 lbs thrust in afterburner mode
Span: 31 ft 7 in
Length: 46 ft 11 in
Height: 13' 3 in
Weight: 21,280 lb
Max Speed: 753 mph; cruise/578 mph
Range: 1,275 mi
Service Ceiling: 49,000 ft

Armament, notable:

4 x 20mm cannon
4 AIM-9 Sidewinder
Aero 6A or Aero 7A Rocket Package 

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