Originally known as the TFX (Tactical Fighter "X"), the F-111 was conceived to meet a U.S. Air Force requirement for a new tactical fighter-bomber. In 1960 the Department of Defense combined the USAF's requirement with a Navy need for a new air superiority fighter. The USAF's F-111A first flew in December 1964, and the first production models were delivered to the USAF in 1967. Meanwhile, the Navy's F-111B program was canceled. In all, 566 F-111s of all series were built; 159 of them were F-111As. Although the F-111 was unofficially referred to as the Aardvark, it did not receive the name officially until it was retired in 1996.
An interested feature of the aircraft was its variable-geometry wings. While in the air, the wings could be swept forward for takeoffs, landings or slow speed flight, and swept rearward for high-speed flight. The F-111 could also fly at very low level and hit targets in bad weather.
In the spring of 1968 the USAF operationally tested the F-111A in Southeast Asia with mixed success. In 1972, after correcting early problems, the USAF returned the F-111A to Southeast Asia for Operation Linebacker II, where it conducted very effective night strikes against North Vietnamese targets.
The F-111A on display is marked as it appeared in 1972-1973 when assigned to the 474th Tactical Fighter Wing during Linebacker II.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: One 20mm M61A1 cannon and up to 24 conventional or nuclear weapons Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-3 of 18,500 lbs. thrust each Maximum speed: 1,452 mph Cruising speed: 685 mph Range: 3,632 miles Ceiling: 57,000 ft. Span: 32 ft. swept; 63 ft. extended Length: 73 ft. 6 in. Height: 17 ft. Weight: 92,657 lbs. maximum
Note: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the National Museum of the USAF, the U.S. Air Force, or the Department of Defense, of the external website, or the information, products or services contained therein.