by Tommy H. Thomason

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

F-111B Inflight Refueling Probe

I'm now pretty sure what the F-111B inflight refueling probe installation looked like, both originally and as planned for the production aircraft.

Thanks to Ray Geminski, we now have a photo of the short-nose probe extended:
My guess is that this is #5, BuNo 151974. One of the test points for #4, BuNo 151973, the day in crashed at Grumman was an evaluation of inflight refueling so it also had a probe.

The probe for the original short-nose design was located just aft of the bulkhead that the radar was mounted on. It swung up from the left side of the fuselage.

And then swiveled forward into position like the A-6 Intruder's.

In this picture, you can see what look like two of the three doors associated with the probe. My guess is that the lower door was hinged on its forward edge. The middle door was attached to the probe (see the picture above). The upper door was hinged on its right side and covered the opening at the base of the probe.

Although the probe was not installed on the first two or three flight test aircraft, it was on the fourth for certain because an inflight refueling evaluation was planned on what would be its last flight. I believe the picture of the unpainted F-111B and the one with the probe extended are both #5.

The extension of the nose for production allowing a more straightforward installation. The probe was now stowed on top of the nose under two doors and rotated up into position without having to swivel.
However, it doesn't appear that either of the two flight-test aircraft with the production nose had this installation. This was probably because the contour of the upper nose was different between the radome and the escape capsule on these airplanes. They were fitted with the original escape capsule whereas the production airplanes were to have a lower interface between the windscreen and the upper nose for better over-the-nose visibility. (See In any event, the airplane had more than enough internal fuel for the typical flight-test mission so inflight refueling was not required.

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