F-14 Tomcat in Action

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
David Doyle
Other Publication Information
Softcover, 88 pages, 200+ photographs, 6 color profiles, color illustrations on front and back cover
Product / Stock #
In Action
Company: David Doyle Books - Website: Visit Site

This volume covers the F-14 Tomcat and is one of the new books recently released in connection with the return of Squadron Signal Publishing.

The book follows the familiar “In Action” format starting with a brief history of the development of the F-14 Tomcat, from the initial prototypes up through the production versions: the F-14A, F-14A+/B, and F-14D. Doyle also includes a brief section on the Tomcat 21 – Grumman’s proposal to bring the F-14 into the 21st Century. Numerous black & white and color photographs depict not only Grumman’s mock-ups and prototype, but also the mock-up of the competing Chance Vought proposal and a mock-up of a proposed version of the Tomcat intended to replace the U S Air Force’s F-106 in the interceptor role. The introduction also includes a table listing the different Block (production batch) numbers of F-14s that were built, the number of aircraft in each Block and the Bureau (serial) Numbers for all of the aircraft in each Block. There are also a page of side views illustrating some of the differences between the versions and detail drawing interspersed through the book illustrating things such as the changes to the boattail section between the engines, the speed brake, and sensor/antenna configurations under the nose on the F-14A.

While there are a number of photographs of prototypes and test aircraft, the bulk of the book is dedicated to photographs of operational Tomcats in the Fleet (with a few of Iranian Tomcats in their original sand, brown and green camouflage scheme). The photographs illustrate the primary color schemes worn by the F-14 over the years starting with the original light gull grey over white of the 1970’s, shifting to the overall light gull grey in the late 70’s and early 80s, followed by the multi-tone grey tactical paint scheme (TPS) in the mid-80’s. The photographs also document the changes in unit markings during this period of time, going from the full color jets of the 70’s to the toned-down and muted colors from the 80’s forward. There are also photographs of some of the show-birds and special paint schemes applied to the Tomcat over the years.

The photographs are well produced, although some of the older ones are not as sharp, I suspect primarily due to limitations of using traditional film, as the later digital photographs are.

As the photographs are of operational F-14’s, they include many of the various weapon’s loadouts carried on the F-14, such as the pure missile loads, TARPS configured aircraft and the air-to-ground loadouts seen over Iraq and Afghanistan. There are also several photographs depicting weapons being loaded onto Tomcats.

The captions for each photograph are well done and informative and I only found a few mistakes: (i) on page 85 it it appears a photo was swapped out at the last minute as the caption for the upper photograph describes a F-14D of VF-213 entering the overhead pattern over the USS Theodore Roosevelt, but the photograph is of a VF-101 F-14D trapping aboard an unknown carrier during training; and (ii) the caption on page 2 erroneously states that the painting on the rear cover is of two F-14D’s from VF-213, when in fact it is a pair of F-14A’s from VF-84 as evidenced by the lack of the twin chin sensors on the aircraft, the yellow and black helmets worn by the aircrew, the black and yellow fuselage stripe and the black tails with yellow trim – VF-213’s primary trim color was dark blue and by the time the F-14D had arrived, all flight crew helmets were primarily white reflective tape to increase visibility of aircrew in the water. My only real complaint with the captions is that a couple of them describe “dorsal fins” - the F-14 had vertical tails (big ones at that), not dorsal fins (fish have those).

One other error is that both the front and rear cover paintings incorrectly depict the Phoenix adaptor/pylon on the shoulder stations (1 & 8) as having a vertical leading edge and a straight lower edge when in fact the pylon’s leading edge sloped forward towards the nose of the missile and the lower edge of the pylon followed the curve of the missile (see page 78).

For super detailers, there are pictures through-out of various panels opened up for maintenance or weapons installation/loading, as well as photographs of the different weapons carried by the Tomcat.

While this is the fifth “in Action” book on the F-14, (three by Lou Drendel and two by David Doyle), Squadron lists the book as an updated and expanded volume of Mr. Doyle’s prior book, so those of you who already have that volume may want to compare this new volume to his prior one when making your purchase decision. I have the three Lou Drendel volumes, but missed Mr. Doyle’s first volume, so I was not able to compare the two. However, I am always happy to add another book to my Tomcat reference collection.

It is nice to see a return of the in-Action series as they are a very useful overview publication and a good starting point for inspiration and research.


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