by Tommy H. Thomason

Sunday, October 19, 2014

F11F Tiger

The Grumman F11F was one of three day fighters developed for the Navy in the early 1950s, the others being the North American FJ-4 Fury and the Vought F8U-1 Crusader. The Fury was one of the best day fighters that didn't have an afterburner. As a fighter, it was relegated to Marine Corps squadrons; as a nuclear strike aircraft (FJ-4B), it had a relatively brief career with the Navy, mainly procured as such according to some accounts to get Douglas' attention about correcting the A4D's initial shortcomings.

The F11F had an afterburner but it was deficient in every respect to the F8U except for handling qualities, particularly on approach for landing. Which is why, after a brief operational career, it was relegated to the Blue Angels flight display team (about 40 of the 201 built were flown by the Blues at one time or another) and advanced flight training.

Although only 201 were built, there were two different production configurations, the short and long nose.

The short-nose airplanes also had the angle-of-attack sensor on the left side of the forward fuselage (although it was not on early test and production aircraft); the sensor was on the right side of the long-nose F11Fs.

That's pretty straight forward, although care has to be taken with respect to where the change begins in the forward fuselage:

Then there is the problem of sorting out what aspects of the various existing F11Fs on display are bogus. Worse case is the F11F that was formerly on the deck of the Intrepid Air-Sea-Space museum and is now on loan to the MAPS Air Museum at the Ankron-Canton Airport in Ohio. It is painted as Bureau Number 141783, a long-nose F11F, when it served with VF-33. However, it is actually a short-nose F11F, BuNo 138622, that spent its career at Grumman in flight test.

(It also doesn't have the wing fillets of the long-nose configuration.)

Even the best preserved example, BuNo 141828, shown here with Don Hinton at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, has a few (but minor) configuration issues.
(Don has photographed every square inch of this airplane, which provides a treasure trove of detail information for kit manufacturers and model builders; see

Many of the F11Fs on display are in Blue Angels markings. However, most of these are not in the Blue Angel configuration:
The long-nose Blue Angels F11Fs had the same modifications. See the Phil Juvet photos here: They don't show the gun-bay doors but pictures on the Combat Air Museum do as do other photos of this airplane that can be found with a search.

There is a minor difference in the presence or absence of the antenna under the aft end of the canopy.

 The NMNA F11F does not have the antenna, probably because it came to the museum from a VT squadron. However, here is a picture of a pair of fleet F11Fs, one with (211) and the other without (206) the antenna...

For some notes on the 1/72nd Hasegawa kit and other stuff, see

For a discussion of the F11F's unique tailhook installation, see


  1. Hopefully Kitty Hawk will give a look-see on this blog before they cut metal. Hope springs eternal....Pat D

    1. One of their representatives is welcoming progressive input, starting with the initial CAD shape...

  2. This is good news! I kinda hope it is in 1/48, but if they get it reasonably accurate it will probably be a hit. Pat D

  3. Any thoughts on the Blue Angel accuracy of the F11F gate guard at NAS Pensacola? You would think they might get that one right.

    1. It probably isn't because it still has the shell chute fairing on the gun-bay doors. It's also missing the oil tube from the left gun-bay that runs under the wing/fuselage intersection to the exhaust but that might be removed because it's a little unsightly (BuNo 141824 at Pima did fly with the Blues; it has the correct gun-bay doors but does not have the oil pipe).

  4. I sponsored the F11F that was the gate guard at NAS Pensacola through the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. Until recently they had no history for the airplane, but while doing a cosmetic restoration for a museum in Tennessee they got into the cockpit and found the data plate. It is Bureau Number 141869 and it did fly with the Blue Angels as #4 in 1959. Lt. (later Capt.) Bob Rasmussen who recently retired as Director of the National Naval Aviation Museum there on base flew it 300 times during his stint with the team. Even though it had the shell ejector chutes and no oil line, the place where it attached to the exhaust was still very apparent.

    1. Christopher - thanks for the correction and additional information.

  5. You're welcome. According to the people who did the work the cockpit is intact- all of the instruments, control stick, and seat are still in it. They took pics but I was never allowed to see. The NNAM told me the Bureau Number and that they requested the history card from Naval History and Heritage Command. According the the Foundation's newsletter, "Fly By", in his last submission as Director of the Museum Bob Rasmussen stated that he picked the airplane up from Grumman in November 1958. He flew it in 1959 and his successor Ken Wallace flew it in 1960. It went on display at the main gate at NAS Pensacola in 1965 so it probably had little, if any, operational squadron history. There is an article about it on the National Naval Aviation Museum's home page.