One of the greatest manufacturing feats ever accomplished in the history of the world may be the creating and manufacturing of the F-14 Super Tomcat by Grumman. It was the premier long-range strike fighter. The Tomcat replaced the F-4 Phantom and was designed to defend our US NAVY’s fleet.
Its long history began with its first flight on December 24, 1970. Grumman in New York built it for $38 million. Grumman’s manufacturing operation were designed for continuous improvement. One of the key manufacturing processes that Grumman excelled in was hot forming or forging. They produced more than 2,000 titanium parts per month without a preforming operation.
Grumman’s integrated manufacturing operations included a facility to manufacture all aluminum, steel and titanium sheet metal parts with heat-treating and finishing capabilities. All designs and flight testing was done on site with more than 27,000 hours of wind tunnel testing. The F-14 was tested for aerodynamics, propulsion, structural loads and spins.
The F-14’s weight was critical and the final design had a weight of 25% titanium, 36% aluminum, 15% steel and 4% bonded metallic materials.
In all there were 38 squadrons who flew the Tomcat at one time or another. The last “Cat shot” of the F-14 took place on the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, on March 11, 2006.
Some of the squadrons flying the F-14 Tomcat were –
The Red Rippers, The Wolfpack, The Tomcatters, The
Grim Reapers, The Black Knights, The Bounty Hunters and the Checkmates to name a few. Doesn’t sound like anybody I would want to have chasing me around with Phoenix missile. I’m glad there are on our side.
As of this date, the F-14 Tomcat is fully retired. The majority of aircraft will find homes at museums, and unfortunately some will go to the BONE YARD. Thanks to all the men and women who keep our country safe.