23For many years the F111 was the principle strike aircraft of the USAF and was a common site in the UK during the 'Cold War' years. A great airshow performer with it's spectacular 'dump and burn', where fuel was ejected and ignited by the hot engine gases.
The F-111 was an all-weather attack aircraft, capable of low-level penetration of enemy defenses to deliver ordnance on the target. The F-111 featured variable geometry wings, an internal weapons bay and a cockpit with side by side seating. The cockpit was part of an escape crew capsule that separated from the rest of the fuselage.
A detachment of six aircraft were sent in March 1968 to Southeast Asia for Combat Lancer testing in real combat conditions in Vietnam. In little over a month, three aircraft were lost and the combat tests were halted. It turned out that all three had been lost through malfunction in the horizontal stabilizer, not by enemy action. September 1972 saw the F-111 back in Southeast Asia, participating in the final month of Operation Linebacker and later the Operation Linebacker II aerial offensive against the North Vietnamese. F-111 missions did not require tankers or ECM support, and they could operate in weather that grounded most other aircraft. One F-111 could carry the bomb load of four McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom IIs. The worth of the new aircraft was beginning to show, and over 4,000 combat F-111A missions were flown over Vietnam with only six combat losses.
On 14 April 1986, 18 F-111s and approximately 25 Navy aircraft conducted air strikes against Libya under Operation El Dorado Canyon. The 18 F-111s of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing & the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing flew what turned out to be the longest fighter combat mission in history.The round-trip flight between RAF Lakenheath/RAF Upper Heyford, United Kingdom and Libya of 6,400 miles spanned 13 hours.
F-111s participated in Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm) in 1991. During Desert Storm F-111Fs completed 3.2 successful strike missions for every unsuccessful one, making it the leading strike aircraft. The group of 66 F-111Fs dropped almost 80% of the war's laser guided bombs. Eighteen F-111Es were also deployed during the operation. The F-111s were credited with destroying more than 1,500 Iraqi tanks and armored vehicles. Their use in the anti-armor role was dubbed "tank-plinking".The F-111 was in service with the USAF from 1967 through 1998. The Strategic Air Command had FB-111s in service from 1969 through 1990. At a ceremony marking the F-111's USAF retirement, on 27 July 1996, it was officially named Aardvark, its long-standing unofficial name. The USAF retired the electronic countermeasures EF-111 Raven, variant in 1998.The other operator of the F111 was the Royal Australian Air Force, its aircraft serving until December 2010.
The painting depicts a F111E from the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing based at Upper Heyford UK.
Artist Paul Howard.
Available as an A3 size or 20x16 print.