The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is considered by many to be the most iconic naval fighter aircraft of the latter half of the twentieth century. Colors & Markings of the F-14 Tomcat, Part 1: Atlantic Fleet and Reserve Squadrons is a comprehensive look at the paint schemes and unit markings used by operational F-14 squadrons assigned to the Atlantic Fleet from 1974 through 2006.
The book covers the fifteen active Atlantic Fleet fighter squadrons and the two Naval Reserve units that flew the Tomcat during its entire thirty-two year career. Beginning in 1974, when the F-14 entered service with VF-14 “Tophatters,” VF-32 “Swordsmen,” and VF-143 “Pukin’ Dogs,” the Tomcat distinguished itself, first as an outstanding fighter and fleet defense interceptor, tactical reconnaissance aircraft, and later as strike aircraft in its “Bombcat” role.
This compilation of squadrons includes eleven units that were assigned to the Atlantic Fleet for the entire time they flew the F-14. Two additional Atlantic Fleet squadrons were reassigned to the Pacific Fleet during the time they flew Tomcats before returning to the Atlantic Fleet during their final years in the F-14. Finally, two squadrons that began their F-14 operational service with the Pacific Fleet were later assigned to the Atlantic Fleet for their final years of Tomcat service, and these are also included.
A short history is provided for each of the seventeen fighter squadrons that summarizes the operational highlights and carrier assignments for the unit during the time it flew the Tomcat. Also included with the history is a review of the squadron markings the unit used on their aircraft. This explains how those markings evolved over time as the Navy moved from the Light Gull Gray over Insignia White paint scheme, to the overall Light Gull Gray scheme, and finally to the several very low visibility exteriors that were classified as tactical schemes.
The move from the gray over white scheme, which featured some of the most colorful aircraft markings ever displayed on U. S. Navy aircraft, to the lower visibility schemes led to a much more drab and understated look for the F-14. Yet even through the latter stages of its career, special aircraft in each unit, including the X00-modex Tomcat assigned to the Carrier Air Wing Commander (CAG) and the X01-modex aircraft assigned to the squadron commander (CO), allowed a limited number of colorful squadron markings to continue. Additionally, anniversary markings, holiday markings, and retro markings also added color to a few aircraft. Each unit section has a selection of photographs that chronicles the evolution of markings throughout the years the squadron flew the F-14.
Part 1 will be followed by two additional volumes. Part 2 will cover the Pacific Fleet and Reserve Squadrons. Finally, the third book in the trilogy will take a look at the prototypes, early developmental Tomcats, those assigned to test and evaluation squadrons and facilities, TOPGUN, adversary Tomcats, miscellaneous and utility units, and NASA. Additionally, the official paint schemes used by the U. S. Navy with be covered, as will a detailed look at the standard markings and stenciling used on Tomcats.
The digital edition of Colors & Markings of the F-14 Tomcat, Part 1: Atlantic Fleet and Reserve Squadrons has 216 pages, 317 full color, high resolution photographs, and 25 color profiles.