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F-111 in Detail

Part Six - Cockpits



by Jim Rotramel


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F-111 Cockpits





The rear bulkhead of an EF-111A (left) showing the “hit and run” mini-survival kit contained in a small, triangular-shaped box located above the pilot's headrest. The flight control computer ground-check panel is the bottom of the three panels between the seats. Its door was always open from engine shutdown until after engine start. Also, note that clip to hold the nuclear flash shield is in place at the top of the photo, but no shield is fitted. The rear bulkhead of an F-111F (right) showing the “hit and run” kit mounted behind the WSO's headrest. Note the nuclear flash shield in place on the canopy sill at the top of the photo. The leather headrests were always red, but the seat cushions were normally green, and rarely red fabric. The ‘hit-and-run’ kit was on the WSO’s side in the F-111D/F and FB/G. It was above the AC’s seat in the F-111A/C/E variants.




This left photo of an FB-111A clearly shows both the silver-colored blast curtains and the panels on the glare shield that fold up to provide all-round flash protection in the cockpit in a nuclear environment. These “blast curtains” were only found on FB-111As, many F-111Ds, and all F-111E/Fs (prior to 1991), although the framing was common to all variants. Note that the rectangular optical display sight (ODS) is only on the pilot’s side. This was the configuration of all but the F-111Ds and EF-111As.

The EF-111A (not shown) lacked the ODS, glare shield blast screens, and blast curtain.

The gray scheme on this F-111D dates the right photo as having been taken after 1991, as does the lack of nuclear blast curtains Note the unique shape of the F-111D heads up displays (HUD) and that they were on both sides of the cockpit. Also clearly shown is the track along which the blast curtain unfolded in an arc at the rear of the canopy from its axis at the front inboard corner of the canopy. This track was common to all F-111s.



After the 1991 Gulf War, EF-111As received Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) modifications. This manifested itself in the cockpit by the addition of two F-16 multifunction displays.



This restored display shows the unique features of the F-111D cockpit. Despite the moving map (top center), HUDs (either side of the moving map) and multi function displays for both the pilot and WSO, this advanced cockpit was designed in the 1960s! Unfortunately, it didn’t work reliably until the 1980s, after the Regan administration adequately funded spare parts and upgrades. When it worked, it was a dream to fly and much easier to operate than the other F-111 cockpits.



This photo shows the massive structure of the F-111 canopies. Note the nuclear blast curtain at the top of the photo and the curved track at the rear of the far canopy for its curtain. By the way, they bicycle locks were installed for an air show appearance to protect visitors from themselves!




These photos show the F-111F cockpit as it appeared during the 1991 Gulf War. The WSO’s virtual image display (VID) is visible in the background of the left photo. The right photo shows how it was two small TVs behind a large magnifying glass. The two screens allowed both radar and infrared video to be viewed simultaneously. When the WSO was working those two systems during an attack he was said to have his head “in the feedbag”.



After the Gulf War, some F-111Fs received the Pacer Strike modifications. Similar to the AMP modification, it also introduced two of the F-16 MFDs onto the front panel.



Although it looks similar to the F-111F, this was an F-111G cockpit. These were FB-111As that had been given the AMP modification and then given several other internal modifications to make them trainers for TAC aircrews. What looks like a VID was just a hood for a single unmagnified TV-display. In fact, there was a Velcro flap on the left side of the hood so the pilot could peak at what the WSO was looking at on his radar!


Text Copyright © 2002 Jim Rotramel
Images Copyright © 2002 United States Department of Defense and Jim Rotramel
Page Created 11 March, 2002
Last Updated 15 December, 2003

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