View Full Version : F14 Tomcat tail fin washes up on Irish shores

05-07-2006, 04:00 AM

06 May 2006

US Navy jet tail fin washes up on Irish shores

By Dan Buckley, Alan Good and Eoin English
THERE’S nothing quite like the roar of waves crashing on the beach to wipe away the cobwebs — unless it happens to be the scream of a US Navy F-14 Tomcat overhead.

Whichever was loudest appears to have masked the moment a piece of combat aviation history fell to earth recently and ended up on a beach in west Cork.

An investigation was underway last night after what is believed to be a large part of the structure of the US Navy fighter jet was found washed up yesterday by a retired Aer Lingus pilot.

The piece, about the size of a family car, is thought to be one of the tail fins from a twin-tail F-14 Tomcat — the jet featured in the movie Top Gun.

Retired Aer Lingus captain Charlie Coughlan made the amazing discovery at Long Strand at Owenahincha, near Rosscarbery.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “The paint is still perfect. It appears to have broken off the aircraft. I could see a spar inside — it’s cracked, not cut.”

The debris, which measures eight feet by four feet, is military grey and features a flying skeleton, the insignia of VF-101 squadron — also known as the Grim Reapers — who up until recently were the US Navy’s F-14 training squad.

“It is quite a substantial piece; you would think it would have sunk but the inside is layered with honeycomb material and that could have made it buoyant,” said Mr Coughlan.

“There are no barnacles on it, so I would say it has only been in the water a few months.”

He notified the Irish Aviation Authority who in turn contacted the gardaí. They sealed off the scene yesterday and handed the investigation over to the Air Navigation Investigation Unit.

A senior garda said there were no reports of any aircraft missing in the area. The US Navy seems equally mystified.

A spokesman at the Pentagon said last night that they were not aware of any missing tail fins.

“We don’t fly F-14s any more,” said Lieutenant Jim Marks. “They were decommissioned earlier this year.”

The F-14 Tomcat, with its distinctive swept wings, twin vertical fins and engines, and state-of-the-art technology, was one of the most formidable fighter jets in US combat aviation history.

Designed primarily as a naval air-to-air fighter, the Tomcat also proved adept in ground attack capabilities, tactical reconnaissance and precision strikes. The first prototype flew in 1970 and its first combat deployment began in 1972.

Both the Tomcat and its fighter squadrons were finally mothballed in January after more than three decades of combat duty.

A sense of that history can be found on the US Navy website. Wannabe Tom Cruises can download a computer video game designed to test the mettle of those intent on a career with the force.

Called the US Navy Training Exercise, the website declares it is being “conducted to help us evaluate future recruitment benchmarks”. Naturally, it has a code name: Strike & Retrieve.

The Navy says: “NTE: Strike & Retrieve presents a mental challenge that requires both sound reasoning and quick- thinking action on your part. At the navy we know the missions of the future will be determined not by who is the strongest but by who is the smartest.”

And, presumably, whoever manages to hang on to their tail-fins.

05-07-2006, 04:04 AM
Hmm..cool and strange in the same way.

Nice avatar btw!

05-07-2006, 04:17 AM
Hmm..cool and strange in the same way.

Nice avatar btw!

Jomenthankyouverymuch.... p-)

Oh, that could be Goose and Mavericks jet...

05-07-2006, 05:50 AM
If this ends up on ebay, I'll put $1000 down for it p-)

05-07-2006, 05:52 AM
Could have come from any Crashed F14's,there' have been many downed in the Atlantic.........the Squadron markings are visible,so it should be easy enough to pinpoint the aircraft in question!

05-07-2006, 05:55 AM
Very strange..

05-07-2006, 06:55 AM
Finders keepers! Lucky Fkers.

05-07-2006, 07:12 AM
Paint schemes:

early 80s

late 90s

Losses since early 1980s:

161429 F-14B VF-101 AD102 09.07.2002 ?

159591 F-14A VF-101 AD225 10.04.2001 Chesapeake

158629 F-14A VF-101 AD121 18.06.2000 Grove Naval Air Station

163216 F-14B VF-101 04.08.1999 USS George Washington ?

161445 F-14A VF-101 mid-1998 ?

161425 F-14A VF-101 AD105 02.10.1997 ?

162706 F-14A VF-101 18.04.1996 NAS Oceana

161444 F-14A VF-101 AD201 18.04.1996 NAS Oceana

163411 F-14B VF-101 AD101 15.03.1993 ?

161286 F-14A VF-101 AD155 14.11.1989 ?

160400 F-14A VF-101 AD163 30.08.1983 Virginia Capes

161420 F-14A VF-101 AD174 30.08.1983 Virginia Capes?

161143 F-14A VF-101 29.07.1982 Virginia Beach


Any ideas??p-)

brad 1
05-07-2006, 07:19 AM
will the guy who found it eventually get to keep it or will it have to be returned to the us navy

05-07-2006, 07:24 AM
But the funny thing is, there are no barnacles on it.. it has only been in the water a few months!

05-07-2006, 07:58 AM
Your all wrong. Its actually proof of Irelands secret F-14 fleet which numbers in the thousands :)

05-07-2006, 08:06 AM
Your all wrong. Its actually proof of Irelands secret F-14 fleet which numbers in the thousands :)


I think it's one of those repainted Iranian F14's.. Guess the Iranian paint came off..

05-07-2006, 11:38 AM
The other thing that happens, things fall over board... OPPS, "Chief, it was here a minute ago!" :roll:

05-07-2006, 12:13 PM
Can someone tell me why the US changed the colour schemes of the F14's?

Or rather does the US still have planes decked out in colours of the sqaudrens? (USAF/Marines/USN)


Many air forces changed their colour schemes late 80s - early 90s because the old hi-vis and camo schemes were to easy to discover in air to air situations.

Most air forces still keep hi-res/camo paint jobs on older fighters for training purposes. Easier to ID who is who during ACM when both sides operate the same type of aircraft.

Modern fighters like JAS 39 Gripen, F-22 etc. are not as easily repainted because of the composite materials they are made of.

Three different schemes for aircraft 37:


High 1 (Peace time)

High 2 (Peace time)


05-07-2006, 12:23 PM
Probably just dumped trash. Argyll, back to work now eh?

05-07-2006, 12:30 PM
The US Navy has actual allowed more colorful paint jobs back in. With no more Soviet threat I guess they felt they could take a break.

05-07-2006, 01:21 PM
The US Navy has actual allowed more colorful paint jobs back in. With no more Soviet threat I guess they felt they could take a break.

As I said. It looks good and benefits training within own unit!

Mr Gently Benevolent
05-07-2006, 02:07 PM
The paint on the tail fin could be mildly toxic thus preventing fouling, some stuff I have found on deck including plane parts have had no fouling at all some aluminium seems inhospitable to barnacles but not to anemones.
We used to trawl over the wreck of a 1930’s mail plane at least once a week and we always got a piece of it coming up in the net and you only ever found marine growth in the joins or fittings.

05-07-2006, 03:23 PM
Didn't you guys get the memo that this is from the F-14 that was abducted mid-air by UFO's in the 1970's and returned two weeks ago?

05-07-2006, 03:23 PM
I thought they changed the paintscheme because the 80's were over

05-07-2006, 09:34 PM
I really loved the Jolly Rogers F-14 paint job.

05-08-2006, 12:25 AM
Can someone tell me why the US changed the colour schemes of the F14's?

Or rather does the US still have planes decked out in colours of the sqaudrens? (USAF/Marines/USN)


They don't draw on them that much anymore. Back in WWII we had a lot of draws and pictures on our aircraft.

05-08-2006, 01:46 AM
Place it on ebay, im sure the Iranians would bid for it.

05-08-2006, 05:31 AM
Your all wrong. Its actually proof of Irelands secret F-14 fleet which numbers in the thousands :)

shhhhhhh dont tell them thats top secret ha rofl

05-08-2006, 06:14 AM
So instead of pink flamingos this guy could have this standing in his
front yard? Yep... unique yard ornament indeed.

05-10-2006, 05:04 AM

NORFOLK — A tail section from an F-14 Tomcat discovered on a beach in Ireland came from an Oceana-based plane that crashed 3½ years ago off Key West, Fla., the Navy confirmed Tuesday.

How it got at least 4,900 miles away, no one knows for certain.


What is known is that an F-14 crashed when a compressor stalled in one of its engines. Both crew members safely ejected and were picked up by helicopter. They sustained minor injuries.

They had been with several other F-14s on a training mission and had been assigned to Fighter Squadron 101, a training squadron, at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach.

“It is quite a substantial piece,” ” he told the Irish Examiner. “You would think it would have sunk, but the inside is layered with honeycomb material, and that could have made it buoyant.”

05-10-2006, 08:09 AM
Mike Maus of the Naval Air Force Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, Va., confirmed Tuesday that the tail fin is that of an F-14 Tomcat fighter jet that crashed into the Gulf of Mexico in 2002 during a training exercise off Key West. He said the six-digit serial number on the tail fin matches that of the plane that went down because of mechanical failure. Both crew members ejected from the $38 million jet with minor injuries.