Grumman F-11: The Fighter Jet That Shot Itself Down

Grumman F-11: The Fighter Jet That Shot Itself Down
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Like all other Grumman aircraft, the F-11 Tiger was also named after a cat. By the time the F-11 was only the second supersonic fighter aircraft that the United States Navy had. It could do a top speed of 843 miles per hour (Mach 1.1). F-11 was a single-seat carrier-based fighter aircraft.

In 1956, the Grumman corporation was testing its new fighter F-11 tiger off the New York coast. The pilot fired a long burst from the aircraft’s gun and after some time aircraft suffered really mysterious damage. The windshield of the aircraft was caved and the engine had terrible wounds too. Can you guess what happened? The pilot had shot himself down.

According to DataGenetics, The Grumman test pilot was flying the Tiger off the coast and he dropped his nose 20 degrees targeting an empty spot of the ocean. He fired a four-second burst from his Colt Mk.12 20-millimeter cannons and entered a steeper descent and hit the afterburners.

F11F-1 Tiger
Credits: CC

A minute later the pilot realized that his windshield had caved and the engine started making noises and eventually making it difficult for him to even return to Grumman’s long island airfield. At the moment all pilot could think of was he suffered from a bird strike. But the investigations revealed the reason for this incident was that the pilot had actually flown in to his own 20-millimeter cannon rounds.

Even though the fire rounds started at a great speed, due to the drag by the air, the rounds had slowed down and hit the Tiger causing severe damages to the aircraft. The tiger was damaged beyond repair and the injured pilot took more than 5 months to return to flying. The Navy bought only 200 F-11 Tigers and later replaced it with better aircraft like F-8 Crusader and F-4 Phantom IIs. The Blue Angels flew the F-11 Tiger until 1969.

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