F-111 in Detail
Part Six - Cockpits
by Jim Rotramel
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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
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
Images Copyright © 2002 United States
Department of Defense and Jim Rotramel
Page Created 11 March, 2002
15 December, 2003
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