Tales of the F-14
More recollections of the fabled fighter.
- By airspacemag.com
- Air & Space magazine, September 2006
(Page 3 of 6)
We later found out that a report from the Engineering Lab was working its way through the system over Christmas, telling us that the engine run failure was a fatigue fracture of the 5/16th-inch titanium line.”
A Pinball Machine in the Cockpit
Vincent Devino was the head of cockpit design and avionics installation on the F-14 from the time Grumman proposed the design in 1967. See also Devino’s photos from that era.
“The company felt very confident that it would win the contract. It would have been foolish for the Navy to do otherwise at that point because we’d had the experience integrating the AWG-9 radar system that Hughes put together on the F-111B. We took the F-14’s system right out of the F-111B.
In designing the cockpit, we worked with the project pilot who went through system by system with each of the engineers in order to whittle down the number of discrete controls in order to justify every one that the engineer thought was necessary. In the flight control system the number of caution and warning indicators was reduced. Some of the engineers wanted a first level warning of every first level system, but we simplified the number of cautions and warnings. The objective, among other things was that it was a Navy airplane and the Navy didn’t want a pinball machine in the cockpit. They didn’t want a pilot being distracted while he’s being shot off the catapult.
Since the airplane was capable of a long-endurance mission—six hours in the airplane—we tried to make the cockpits comfortable. If you’ve ever sat on an ejection seat, it’s like sitting on a brick. We made use of tempurpedic foam-the same stuff they’re yaking about for mattresses. We had people sitting in the mockup for 6 to 12 hours in the configuration that we intended to produce, so we wound up with a comfortable cockpit.
Packaging some of the stuff to fit the narrower contours of the F-14 was a challenge, but we never wound up with boxes left sitting on the desk. When you package a fighter, if you have any voids in the airplane you didn’t do your job right.
The canopy would have been made out of one piece but we couldn’t find anybody who could make a big enough piece of plexiglas at the time.