Grumman F11F Tiger
Supersonic carrier-based fighter
era: Jet Age
On loan from the National Museum of the Marine Corps
The F11F Tiger was quite different from its predecessors, the Grumman Panther and Cougar a thin wing (swept), engine intakes on the fuselage, landing gear to rear of the fuselage, low-mounted tail plane, and an afterburner turned it into a post-Korean War supersonic fighter interceptor. The most important difference is the "coke-bottle" fuselage that is constricted in the center. This application of the Area Rule was to reduce drag by as much as 25% .
The Tiger has the unique distinction of being one, if not the only, aircraft to have shot itself down! On Sept. 21, 1956, test pilot Tom Attridge, while in super-sonic flight and a shallow dive, fired a three second burst of 200mm cannon rounds. A sudden flameout forced him to crash land, fracturing several of his vertebrae. It was deemed that due to the speed of the aircraft, the Tiger had overtaken the cannon rounds which had rapidly decelerated after leaving the cannon muzzles. The Tiger ingested them into its air intake, destroying its engine.
Unfortunately, the Tiger's engine (Wright J65-W-18) never was able to develop its full potential for the airframe. Also the range of the aircraft was limited due to high fuel consumption and inadequate fuel carrying capacity. The Tiger was also limited to day operations as radar was never installed. With these deficiencies, it could not compete with the F8 Crusader and was used mostly for training.
The Air Zoo's Tiger
This Aircraft was acquired by the U.S. Navy on Oct 11, 1958 and was assigned to Pensacola Navel Air Station for its entire career. It was used by the Blue Angels flight demonstration team and flown by Commander Zeb Knott as the #1 plane. It is on long term loan to the Air Zoo and has been painted as plane #5 for USMC Lt. Thomas Jefferson, one of the two solo performers with the Blue Angels at that time, at the request of the Marine Corps Air & Ground Museum.