Aircraft: Takeoff for the F-111

As a military-hardware order that had been proclaimed the richest in U.S. history, the F-111 fighter-bomber project seemed likely to set more records for hot controversy than cold cash. Air Force and Navy brass bridled at Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's 1961 decision to build a single all-purpose TFX, as it was then called, for both services. When General Dynamics Corp.'s design got the nod over Boeing's, the bickering grew louder—and helped ease the Chief of Naval Operations out of his job. Congress, too, filled the air with investigations over what critics called "the flying Edsel." So cloudy were the...

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