The F11F-1 was the U. S. Navy's first operational supersonic aircraft. Initially designated the F9F-9, the Tiger took to the air in 1954 and became operational in 1957. It remained in service until 1969 and was operated by the Blue Angels for over a decade.
Following the Korean War, the Navy began looking for a fighter jet with supersonic capabilities. In 1953 Grumman was tasked to develop the existing F9F to its full potential. This resulted in the longer, thinner F11 F which could reach supersonic speeds using afterburners. The highly maneuverable Tiger went into production in 1957 with a total production of 204 aircraft, of which 201 were deployed.
The sleek jet with beautiful lines and sharply swept back wings could not live up to its good looks. The F11 F was significantly under-powered and the J65 engine was a constant source of trouble. Two F11Fs were fitted with the General Electric J79 engine which produced almost twice the thrust. The resulting Super Tigers were capable of Mach 2 but were too heavy for carrier duty. Just two years after the Tigers became operational, they were being replaced by Crusaders and Phantom IIs. By 1969 the remaining F11Fs, used as advanced trainers, were relegated to the bone yard.
This particular aircraft was struck off charge at MCAS Cherry Point, NC and is now preserved at Planes of Fame Air Museum location in Valle, AZ.
Planes of Fame Air Museum's F11F-1 Tiger (Bureau Number 141868) was flown by the Blue Angels and was one of the original six aircraft assigned to the team. In the early 1960s, Blue Angel Lt. Bob McDonough flew this aircraft whose name appears below the canopy. This black & white photo shows Blue Angel 2 in flight.