Fighter jets are often used for one key purpose; Taking down enemy aircraft. But what happens when a fighter jet takes itself out? Yes, you heard that right. Not the enemy, not friendly fire; a jet taking itself out. It seems impossible and highly impracticable until you hear the story of the F-11 Tiger.

    Let's take a closer look at how the Grumman F-11 Tiger shot itself down.

    Why The F-11 Tiger Came To Be

    Via: Dark Spies

    The F-11 Tiger was produced in 1956 by Grumman, a US company with a track record of excellence in producing wartime machines. Amid the heat of the cold war, up-to-date technology was a must for the world's two superpowers of the time. The Soviet Union knew this and debuted the MIG-15 , a fighter jet with speeds nearing that of sound.

    The United States Navy did not only need a response; they needed it fast. Grumman was one of the few companies they could turn to, and Grumman answered the call deftly. First, with the F9F Panther and subsequently with the F-9 Cougar.

    Having excelled with the F9F Panther and briefly following up with an upgraded version of the F9F/F-9 Cougar, it would be an understatement to call the F-11 an low standard project.

    It had all the features the United States Navy wanted but also some unwanted attributes that could not be overlooked. Grumman quickly and inadvertently corrected its flaws the next decade with the A-6 Intruder and the E-2 Hawkeye (which is still used to date on military aircraft carriers).

    A History Of The F-11 Tiger

    Via: Dark Skies

    Coming to the scene in the 1950s and retiring a few years later, the Grumman F-11 Tiger was a supersonic, single-seat aircraft deployed by the US Navy. It was first called the F11F Tiger in April 1955, but because of the 1962 Navy designation system, the name was changed to the F-11 Tiger.

    These are reasons that the F-11's design got the attention of the United States Navy;

    • It was designed to reach supersonic performance and avoid transonic drag
    • It was one of only two jets at that time that could reach speeds of over 820 MPH.

    The tweaks that made this happen were minute, but the difference they made was huge. First, spoilers substituted the commonly used ailerons in achieving roll control. The new wing was redesigned to have full-span leading-edge slats and trailing edge flaps.

    The wings of the F-11 jet could also be manually folded down to make space available when it needed to be transported in a carrier jet, and at speeds close to supersonic performances, the tailplane became flexible.

    How This Fighter Jet Shot Itself Down

    Via: Dark Skies

    Mistakes do happen, but there is little you can do when what is supposed to be a comparative advantage ends up being the cause of destruction. For the F-11 fighter jet, its speed let it down (literally).

    On September 21st, 1956, history was made . Grumman would have doubted it could happen, the United States Navy would not have expected it, and it took test pilot Tom Attridge to experience it to believe it was possible.

    Tom, on a test flight in the F-11 around the coast of New York, fired four 20mm cannon shots at 20,000 ft before diving. He sped up with the reheat (also known as afterburner), having forgotten he shot some bullets. At 13,000, he fired the remaining bullets, emptying his gun.

    He continued his dive, but at 7000 ft, his canopy glass, the nose cone, and one of his engine intake lips were hit. He thought it was a bird but seeing he was quickly losing power; he headed down to the base to land the jet. In order not to shatter the canopy, Tom Attridge had to drastically reduce the speed of the F-11 Tiger. It was a dilemma because reducing the speed meant he would not make it to the base. Two miles from the runway, the engine packed up completely.

    The ethical thing for a pilot to do at this point was to bail out. Tom didn't choose that. By a stroke of luck, the jet crashed into some trees, and Tom Attridge escaped death but nursed a broken leg and three broken ribs.

    Upon investigation, it was discovered that putting the speed and direction of the 20mm bullets shot by Tom at 20,000 ft, with the F-11 Tiger's super-speed of half the speed of sound, the jet flew right into its bullets and took itself out. The time from the shot to the time of the bullet's impact was just 11 seconds.

    Final Thoughts

    Via: Dark Skies

    The F-11 fighter jet was retired not because of this incident but because it couldn't keep up with reliability in range when compared to its major competitions. Tom got back to flying six months after the incident, and Grumman would go on to produce more excellent aircraft.

    NEXT: These Experimental Military Planes Were Completely Terrifying To Fly

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    Source: www.hotcars.com

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