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