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Grumman F11F Tiger

The F11F-1 was originally planned as a derivative of the F9F-6 Cougar in the year 1952, the idea was to make the Cougar supersonic by means of modified wings. But the changes made until 1953 were so big, that there was technically no more resemblance at all. The Tiger’s wing was much narrower in its section and hat a lot of changes on Ailerons and spoilers. While the wings of other planes were folded up or to the back, the wing tips of the Tiger were fold downwards. Another unique feature of the Tiger was a fuel tank in its Horizontal Stabilizer. The prototype flew first on July 30th 1954 and almost reached Mach 1, but it didn’t have an afterburner yet. The second prototype had an afterburner and supersonic capability. That made the F11F-1 the second U.S.Navy Aircraft capable of flying faster than the speed of sound, second only to the F4D Skyray.
In 1955 the plane was officially named F11F-1

The F11F-prototype with an F9F Cougar
The F11F prototype with its predecessor, the F9F-6
The F11F1- only played a minor role in active duty. It was introduced into service in 1957 and was used only until 1959, never flying any actual combat missions. Even though it was
more agile and had better handling then the F8J Crusader which entered Service soon after it, the Tiger was not as fast, hat a shorter combat range and could carry less weaponry. Another big issue was the J65 Engine which was not very reliable.
After the F11F-1 had been phased out of active operations it was still used by the Advanced Training unit in South-Texas until the end of the 1960’s. There it was used at the
end of the flight student’s training, to let the students get used to supersonic characteristics, before they enter Active Units.

A squadron of VF-21 Tigers in formation

Even though it was never flown on a combat mission, the F11F-1 still became famous for shooting down a plane: On September 21st 1956, Grumman Test-pilot Tom Attridge was conducting Weapon tests on an F11F-1, when he fired its 20mm cannons during a shallow dive. The plane caught up to its bullets and was damaged so badly, that Attridge had to crash land. Hence the Tiger became known as the first Jet Fighter to shoot itself down, as “the Tiger that bit its tail”. On July 18th 1958 a F11F-1 surpassed the world height record two times in only three days, with final height of 76.939ft or 23.451m. In 1959 the Tiger was also the first Plane ever to fire an AIM-9 “Sidewinder” missile in one of the Advanced Training units.
This F11F carries sidewinder missiles
This F11F carries Sidewinder Missiles
Grumman was planning an upgraded version under the designation F11F-1F Super Tiger, which had bigger air intakes, a stronger Engine, improved avionics and a higher payload. In 1956, two regular Tigers were converted to that standard. One of them reached a velocity of Mach 2.04 and a height of 80.250ft or 24.466m. Since the U.S. Navy didn’t order mass production, the Super Tiger was advertised to the Air Forces of Allied Nations like Canada, West-Germany and Japan. But due to the Lockheed bribery scandal, those nations bought the F-104 Starfighter which was more expensive and inferior to the Super Tiger in many ways.
The F11F-2 Super Tiger

One of the two F11F-1F Super Tigers.

However, the F11F-1 Tiger became most famous as the plane of the Blue Angels.
The U.S.Navy acrobatic team adopted Tigers in 1957 and flew them for twelve years,
until long after the Tiger had retired from active duty. The Blue Angels flew the short-nosed
version first and later converted to the long-nosed version. While using the Tiger, the Blue Angels introduced the Delta-Formation with 6 aircraft and toured Europe for the first times in 1965 and 1967. During that time the paint scheme the Blue Angles use until today was also invented.
Four Blue Angels' Tigers in Formation
The Blue Angels after their conversion to F11F Tigers. They first flew the shown short nose version, later the long nose version.
wingspan: 9.6m
length: 14.3m
height: 4.0m
empty weight: 6500kg
max loaded weight: 9650kg
maximum speed: 1170km/h
range: 2050km
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