In 1956, a fighter plane shot itself down because it was faster than the bullet it shot

The Fighter Plane That Shot Itself Down

In 1956, the Grumman aircraft corporation was testing its new fighter, the F-11 Tiger, off the coast of New York state.

The pilot fired a long burst from its guns and moments later suffered mysterious, catastrophic damage that caved in the windshield and mortally wounded the engine.

What happened? The pilot had shot himself down.

The F-11 Tiger, like all Grumman aircraft, was named after a cat. Fast and nimble, the F-11 was only the second supersonic fighter in the Navy’s inventory, capable of 843 miles per hour (Mach 1.1).

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The plane was actually Grumman’s… Continue Reading (2 minute read)

11 thoughts on “In 1956, a fighter plane shot itself down because it was faster than the bullet it shot”

  1. dbarrc

    > He fired a brief, four second burst from his four Colt Mk.12 20-millimeter cannons, entered a steeper descent, and hit the afterburners.

    For anyone else wondering wtf

  2. SSSS_car_go

    At first I thought the pilot had mortally wounded himself, but it was the engine he killed.

    > On Sept. 21, 1956, test pilot Tom Attridge began a shallow dive in his F11F. As he did, he fired two short bursts from the aircraft’s four 20mm cannons, and thought nothing of it – until he got to the end of his dive, and the bursts began to shoot up his aircraft. He started at 20,000 feet and then went into a Mach 1 dive as he fired. He accelerated with afterburner and at 13,000 feet, fired to empty. He continued his dive. but at 7,000 feet, something struck his canopy glass and one of his engine intake lips. The aircraft began to lose power, and Attridge headed back to base to land it.

    >But in order to make it back without shattering the canopy, he had to slow down his Tiger to a crawl, and the engine would only produce 78 percent of its normal power. He wouldn’t make it back to base at that rate. Two miles away from the runway, the engine went out completely.

    > Attridge didn’t bail out – test pilots are crazy – in the slowed aircraft, he settled into some trees. Despite some injuries, he exited the plane once on the ground and was picked up by a rescue helicopter. The plane, as it turned out, was hit in the windshield, the right intake, and the nose cone by its own rounds. The low pitch of the plane and its trajectory, combined with the trajectory of the bullets and the speed of the Tiger’s descent at half the speed of sound right into the guns’ target area, meant that the plane would easily catch up with its own burst of 20mm fire.

    >The pilot shot himself down in about 11 seconds.


  3. danimal-krackers

    Become an ace in no time with this one secret the Air Force doesn’t want you to know about.

  4. C9177

    For some reason, this reminds me of watching Steve Young catch his own touchdown pass a buncha years ago.

    Lol, I have no idea why but it does.

  5. Adam-West

    How does this work? Surely even if you’re quicker than the bullet you wouldn’t be so quick that you could hit it from behind with enough speed to cause damage to yourself?

  6. scubasteave2001

    One WTI the CO of the Harrier squadron we where sharing hangers with ended up shooting his own jet at the range. He made it back to base safe. He didn’t kind of the same thing. He was in a steep dive on target and fired a three round burst. All three rounds started tumbling right out of the barrel and he raked the side of his engine. It didn’t cause any major damage luckily for him.

  7. I_Have_Nuclear_Arms

    AKA the Kurt Coplane

  8. Fake_William_Shatner

    “Superman; faster than a speeding bullet!”

    Superman: “Ouch.”

  9. Franticfap

    sounds like a b-movie plot point where the main character steals a plane and makes it look like it got shot down by another plane to trick them into thinking they were under attack.

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