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F-11 Tiger

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Grumman F11F/F-11 Tiger
An F11F-1 flown by the Blue Angels.
Type Fighter aircraft
Manufacturer Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation
Maiden flight 1954-07-30
Introduced 1956
Retired 1961 (Carrier)
1967 (Training)
1969 (Blue Angels)
Primary user United States Navy
Produced 1954-1959
Number built 200
Developed from Grumman G-98

The Grumman F11F Tiger was a single-seat carrier-based United States Navy fighter aircraft in operation during the 1950s and 1960s. It was originally designated the F11F Tiger in April 1955 under the Pre-1962 Navy designation system, but was redesignated as F-11 Tiger under the 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system.

The F11F/F-11 was used by the Blue Angels flight team from 1957 to 1969. Grumman Aircraft Corp. made about 200 Tigers, with last delivered January 23, 1959.


The F11F Tiger (F-11) origins can be traced back to a privately funded 1952 Grumman concept to modernize the F9F-6/7 Cougar by implementing the area rule and other advances. This Grumman company project was known as the G-98, and by the end had departed totally from the Cougar.

The design's potential for supersonic performance and reduced transonic drag, stirred interest in the Navy. By 1953, redesigns led to a completely new aircraft bearing no more than a familial resemblance to the Cougar. The new wing had full-span leading edge slats and trailing edge flaps with roll control achieved using spoilers rather than traditional ailerons. For storage on aircraft carriers, the F-11 Tiger's wings manually folded downwards. Anticipating supersonic performance, the tailplane was all-moving. The aircraft was designed for the Wright J65 turbojet -- a license-built version of the Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire.

The Navy Bureau of Aeronautics was sufficiently impressed to order 2 prototypes, designated XF9F-8 even though the new fighter was clearly a new design. To add to the confusion, the prototypes were then redesignated XF9F-9 with the XF9F-8 designation going to another more straightforward Cougar derivative. Since the afterburning version of the J65 was not ready, the first prototype flew on July 30, 1954 with a non-afterburning engine. In spite of this, the aircraft nearly reached Mach 1 in its maiden flight. The second prototype, equipped with the afterburning engine, became the second supersonic Navy airplane, first honor going to the Douglas F4D Skyray. In April 1955, the aircraft received the new designation F11F-1 (F-11A after adoption of the unified Tri-Service naming system in 1962).

Operational history

Carrier trial started on April 4, 1956 when a F-11 Tiger landed on and launched from USS Forrestal. In service, the Tiger operated from the carriers USS Ranger, USS Intrepid, USS Bon Homme Richard, USS Forrestal, and USS Saratoga. F-11 career only lasted four years because performance was inferior to the Vought F-8 Crusader and the J65 engine proved unreliable. Thus, Navy cancelled all orders for the F11F-1P reconnaissance version and only 199 F-11A (F11F-1) fighters were built. The aircraft was withdrawn from carrier service by 1961. However it was used in the training command in south Texas, Beeville and Kingsville, until the late 60s. Students performed advanced jet training in the F-9 Cougar, and upon completing that syllabus, was given a brief taste of supersonic capability before transitioning to fleet fighters.

While the F-11 Tiger fighter career was short, the Blue Angels performed in these aircraft from 1957 until 1969 when the Tiger was replaced by the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II.


In addition to the F-11A (F11F-1) fighter, Grumman also proposed a more advanced version of the airframe known as the F11F-1F Super Tiger. This was the result of a 1958 study to fit the new General Electric J79 engine into the F-11 airframe. The Navy was sufficiently interested to authorize modification of two production F11F-1 with enlarged air intakes and YJ79-GE-3 turbojet, the result designated F11F-2. The aircraft first flew on May 25, 1956, reaching Mach 1.44 in one of the flights. After addition of 60° wing root fillets, a 13.5 in (35 cm) fuselage extension, and an uprated J79 engine, F11F-2 reached an impressive Mach 2.04 and an altitude of 80,250 ft (24,466 m). Unfortunately, the new performance came at the price of weight. The Navy felt the new aircraft was too heavy for carrier operations and did not order it into production. F11F-2 was then redesignated F11F-1F, indicating production F11F-1 with a special engine fit. Failing to secure the Navy contract, Grumman marketed the Super Tiger to foreign customers. German Luftwaffe, Japan Air Self Defence Force, and Royal Canadian Air Force showed a lot of interest but in the end settled on the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter instead.

  • YF9F-9 : Prototype.
  • F-11F-1 : Single-seat fighter version for the US Navy. later redesignated F-11A in 1962.
  • F11F-1P designation of cancelled Navy recon version.


The F-11 Tiger is notorious for being the first jet aircraft to shoot itself down. On September 21 1956, during a test-firing of its 20 mm cannons, pilot Tom Attridge fired two bursts mid-way through a shallow dive. As the velocity and trajectory of the cannon rounds decayed, they ultimately crossed paths with the Tiger as it continued its descent, disabling it and forcing Attridge to crash-land the aircraft. The pilot survived. [1][2]

A Tiger is portrayed in the novel Alas, Babylon firing a heat-seeking missile that goes off course.

Specifications (F-11A/F11F-1)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 46 ft 11 in (14.3 m)
  • Wingspan: 31 ft 7.5 in (9.6 m)
  • Height: 13 ft 3 in (4.0 m)
  • Wing area: 250 ft² (23 m²)
  • Empty weight: 14,330 lb (6,500 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 21,280 lb (9,650 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 24,000 lb (10,900 kg)
  • Powerplant:Wright J65-W-18 turbojet
    • Dry thrust: 7,400 lbf (32.9 kN)
    • Thrust with afterburner: 10,500 lbf (46.7 kN)




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Designation sequence

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