USA   F-111 Aardvark OZ

F-111 Landing Gear
By Jim Rotramel

The F-111A had tires that were 47-inches in diameter and 18-inches wide (the same-size tires as C-130s), while the tires on the Navy’s F-111B were only 42 x 13 inches. The structure of the FB-111A/F-111G, F-111C, F-111D, F-111E, and F-111F landing gears was strengthened, but this wasn’t readily apparent visually, especially in modeling scales. Their tires were the same size as those used on the F-111As.

In anticipation of carrying much larger payloads than the tactical variants, the FB-111A/F-111G also had more powerful brakes fitted, which made the depth of their wheels much shallower; the F-111C also uses these larger brakes. Scaledown has produced both sets of wheels.

The interior of the speedbrake door on all variants was gloss red with black anti-skid strips over the areas rounded out for the tires. The shape of the door on the Minicraft kit is wrong (for that matter, so is that on the Hasegawa kit—the Monogram EF-111A kit looks better). On the Minicraft kit, the door isn’t long enough, which probably means the aft door is too long. Scaledown has produced replacements for the nose gear doors and the front main landing door (speed brake) that replaces the kit door with one that’s thicker, but the same shape as the kit door. The nose gear doors are fine, but my gut feeling is that the speed brake is too thick and that the indents for the wheels are too pronounced.

The aft main gear door was originally designed to align parallel to the fuselage when extended. About 1975 this door was attached to the gear strut, thus making it mount perpendicular to the fuselage when the gear was extended. To do this, the back of the door was cut off, making it 28.5 inches long. Unfortunately, the "Scaledown" gear door set doesn’t include the modified aft main gear door. Scaledown promises to eventually release a complete wheel well set that will correct the geometry of the gear door openings and have a detailed wheel bay.

This photo of a Constant Guard V F-111A clearly shows how the original aft main landing gear door was parallel to the bottom of the aircraft. This mechanization was observed on all versions of the aircraft at least as late as 1976. Also, note the Mk 82 Snakeye bombs and dual AN/ALQ-87 ECM pods, sure signs that this aircraft was headed for a low-level mission over North Vietnam. 

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The original aft main landing gear door installation (at left, during an FB-111A test flight) and the one used for most of the aircraft’s service (at right on an F-111F) showing how the aft part of the door was cut off. Also note how the anti-collision light is offset to the right side of the fuselage.
Also note the length and shape of the speed brake door and compare it to the incorrect Minicraft and Hasegawa door shapes.  


The aft main landing gear door originally extended to be parallel to the bottom of the fuselage. However, it was soon attached to the back of the main landing gear strut, which required cutting off several inches of the door so it wouldn't impact the fuselage (right). Also note the external stiffeners that were added. Behind the door is the front of the conduit that leads to the ECM pod fairing. The interior of the front main landing gear door, which doubled as a speedbrake, is shown in the right photo.

The above photos show the speedbrake piston in the main wheel well with its collar installed (left) and removed (right). Normally the collar was removed after the first engine was started and rein-stalled soon after engine shutdown. However, when the aircraft sat nuclear alert, the collar was never installed, which allowed the speedbrake to droop. To prevent the speedbrake from touching the ground, a wooden wheel chock was placed underneath it. Available photos of Combat Lancer F-111As indicate that at that early stage of the program, collars weren't used. 


Tail bumper used on all F-111s except the FB-111A/F-111G is shown on the left, while the FB-111A/F-111G tail bumper featured an extra fairing (black arrow) is shown on the right. Also note the additional UHF antenna (white arrow) that was unique to these variants. 


Wheel used by the F-111A/D/E/F (left) compared with that used by the F-111C and FB-111A/F-111G (right). Note how much shallower it is than the tactical brake. The wheels could be either silver (as shown) or gloss white, depending on the aircraft and timeframe. On F-111Fs during the Gulf War, the center “hub caps” were often painted with the squadron color.

Edited by Assistant Webmaster 
David de Botton -

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