GENERAL DYNAMICS F-111 A8-134
Multi crew strike bomber
History of A8-134
A8-134 made its first flight on 18 November 1968. Due to political reasons and doubt about the type’s serviceability, all aircraft remained in storage at the General Dynamics factory until 1973. A8-134 was handed over to the RAAF on 8 June 1973 and flew into RAAF Base Amberley, Qld, on delivery on 27 July. It served with both 1 SQN and 6 SQN.
In 1980 the aircraft was modified with the addition of reconnaissance equipment in a special bay in its underbelly, and became an RF-111C model. The aircraft remained in the reconnaissance role until retirement on 3 December 2010. A8-134 had a service life of training missions, but is believed to have been one of the aircraft tasked to fly over East Timor in late 1999 to take aerial images of military forces before East Timor became independent.
In 2012 A8-134 was repainted into its original green and brown camouflage colour scheme before being offered to the South Australian Aviation Museum on a long-term loan.
On 15 March 2013, it left RAAF Amberley for the last time on its road journey to Adelaide. It arrived at the Museum on 17 March and was re-assembled.
GENERAL DYNAMICS F-111 – WHAT MAKES IT UNIQUE?
The F-111 is famous for its variable sweep wings. For take-off, landing and slow speed flight the wings are outstretched at a sweep angle of 16° at the leading edge. For high-speed flight the wings are swept back at 72.5°. The aircraft could be flown with the wings set at any intermediate angle.
The F-111 was fitted with terrain-following radar. This system guided the aircraft’s autopilot to keep a constant height above the ground or water. This enabled the crew to fly at very low altitudes to evade enemy radar or other detection.
The F-111 was fitted with a crew escape module instead of ejection seats. In an emergency, either crew member would pull the ejection handle and the module would separate from the aircraft and descend to earth by parachute.
The module consisted of the entire cockpit section, canopy and the forward part of the fuselage/wing fairing. This module concept was a major design innovation for the 1960s.
Engines: 2 x P&W TF30-P-109RA turbofans
Maximum take-off weight: 51,955 kg (114,300 lb)
Length: 23.5 m
Wingspan: Spread: 21.3 m Swept: 10.4 m
Height: 5.22 m
Maximum speed: Mach 2.5 (1,475 kt; 2,655 kph) at high altitude
Combat radius: 1,160 nm (2,140 km)
Ferry range: 3,000 nm (5,560 km)
Crew: 2 – pilot and navigator/weapons system operator