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General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark and EF-111A Raven - Warpaint No.104


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General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark and EF-111A Raven

 

Warpaint Series No.104

 

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Controversy and competency is the best way to describe the first variable geometry combat aircraft to enter operational service anywhere in the world. This was the F-111 Aardvark, the typical Cold War below the radar strike bomber. It was born in one of the most politically-motivated and incompetent procurement processes ever, and experienced a troublesome gestation period with spiralling costs in development and production, and an unimpressive first deployment to Vietnam in 1967. Yet, all this was forgotten when the F-111 matured and proved itself to become a devastating weapon and a formidable penetration strike aircraft in its second tour in Southeast Asia in 1972-73, helping to prove that its sophisticated attack and terrain-following radar systems enabled the delivery of a large number of ordnance with unerring accuracy at ultra-low level in a hostile environment. Thus equipped, the F-111's long-range all weather missions on targets in Libya in 1986 and in the Gulf War of 1991 confirmed that the Aardvark had become the spearhead of Tactical Air Command and USAFE, and for many years represented the cutting edge of NATO's deep strike forces. It is enough to say that during the Gulf War only two aircraft types were allowed to attack downtown Baghdad and avert collateral damage: the F-117 and the F-111.

 

The longer-span FB-111 was developed with bombing avionics for undertaking the nuclear delivery role with Strategic Air Command, while later still a major re-do resulted in the EF-111A Raven in which were installed the most sophisticated and state-of-the-art electronic countermeasures and signals jamming systems available to assist in SEAD missions. The swing-wing F-111 was a familiar sight in Britain in the 1980s and early 1990s when it equipped two USAFE wings at Lakenheath and Upper Heyford, the latter base also hosting a squadron of EF-111As during part of the same period.
The F-111 tactical strike fighter served with the RAAF as well, and was retired from service as recently as 2010. The F-111 was even ordered by the Royal Air Force in the late 1960s to replace the cancelled TSR.2 but was then itself cancelled at great expense amid nationwide controversy to which a whole chapter is dedicated in this publication.
 

The Book

 

This new title, produced by Charles Stafrace and presented in the now familiar blue card covers with an evocative colour image of the F-111 in flight, should be very welcome for post war jet fans. There are 96 pages, including the covers and general-arrangement plans, and it is brimming with historical and technical information, complimented with colour and monochrome photo's, profiles plus tabulated data inserts of specifications.

There are thirty-nine full colour side profile illustrations; all drawn by Richard J. Caruana, with some giving three or four views that delineate the camouflage and also shows the position of markings and emblems on the various aircraft.
 

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Throughout the book the development, history and politics of the F-111's career is written in an easy to comprehend style, with one hundred and eighty colour plus twenty nine monochrome photographs accompanying the text to highlight the aspects described.
 

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The profiles are accompanied by short descriptive narratives, each providing specific details of a certain aircraft; by type, bu number, where based and time period referred to in the drawing. Occasionally, an additional plan view is inserted; as with the version below, which has been drawn specifically to highlight markings that appear on the top of the wings and fuselage.

 

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In addition to the detailed and informative textual history, there are tabulated data sheets included as inserts at various stages throughout this publication. The example below shows the US Air Forces serial number allocations to the F-111 and EF-111A production programme.
 

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The book is sub-divided into sections by type, with the first section covering the F-111 version and the second section covering the history of the EF-111A electronic warfare variant. As already mentioned, the information and history is interspersed with good quality colour or monochrome photographs; each with a short dialogue pertaining to that aircraft's history or markings etc.

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Most Warpaint series have a pull-out plan inserted, either in the centre pages or inside the back cover. The plans for this edition are printed on one A3 size sheet and show side profiles of the F-111 and EF-111A series on one page plus top and underside plans on the second page. These plans are printed to 1:72 scale by Richard J. Caruana.

 

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Conclusion

 

This new Warpaint title explains the F-111's development, service history, failures and successes, in all its versions whilst in service with both USAF and RAAF, with full text and supplemented with specifications; squadron tables and more than 180 photos, most of which are in colour.

 

 

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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