For a quarter-century, the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II has risen from land and sea to take command of the air, to carry out the strike mission, to fight MiGs, and to join the Thunderbolt, Mustang and Sabre among the immortals of American fighter aviation. Its bent wings, drooped tail and twin-engine configuration a trademark, the Phantom was the first aircraft which could detect, intercept and destroy any target within its radar range without assistance from surface-based radar. Built as an interceptor, it became a MiG killer, but it also excelled at ground attack, 'fast FAC', reconnaissance, and other duties.
The F-4A (US Navy F4H-1F) was a developmental variant, the first making its maiden flight at St Louis on 27 May 1958. It was followed by the US Navy's operational F-4B (F4H-1), powered by two 7711kg afterburning thrust General Electric J79-GE-8 engines. The F-4B model attained an altitude record of 30040m on 6 December 1959, a speed record of 2585km/h on 22 November 1961, and a low-altitude speed record of 1452km/h on 20 August 1962, the last-named not being beaten for 16 years!
The EF-4B designation went to one airframe used for ECM training, and two modified, development airframes bore the NF-4B designation. The QF-4B is a drone conversion. The RF-4B reconnaissance derivative served only with the US Marine Corps.
The F-4C (F-110A) was the US Air Force's first Phantom, the first example being flown on 27 May 1963. The F-4C became operational with the 12th and 15th Tactical Fighter Wings at MacDill AFB, Florida, in January 1964. Some 583 were built, 40 being transferred to Spain. The service-test YRF-4C (YRF-110A) led to the RF-4C (RF-110A), 499 of which were constructed for the photo-reconnaissance role. The F-4D Phantom fighter-bomber introduced a capability to deliver precision-guided munitions (PGM), or 'smart' bombs. Some 825 were built, including 32 delivered new to Iran and 36 transferred to South Korea.
Once in action in Vietnam in 1965, the Phantom seemed to need a gun to augment its missile armament in close-quarter battles with MiGs. The SUU-16/A 20mm external gun pod was an interim measure. The F-4E, first flown on 7 August 1965, introduced more powerful J79-GE-17 engines but its principal change was the internally-mounted M61A1 20mm cannon. Although superior pilot training would later prove more important than the cannon in establishing a 2.5-to-1 kill advantage over North Vietnamese MiG-17, MiG-19 and MiG-21 fighters, the F-4E became the definitive Phantom, and 1,397 rolled off the line. Examples were supplied to Australia (on loan), Greece, Iran, Israel, Turkey, South Korea and West Germany; and 140 F-4EJs were licence-built by Mitsubishi in Japan. The RF-4E was an export reconnaissance derivative, supplied to Greece, Iran, Israel, Japan and West Germany.
By the mid-1960s, the Phantom was just about the best-known fighter in the world. On 2 January 1967 in Operation 'Bolo', F-4Cs of the 8th TFW under Colonel Robin Olds shot down seven North Vietnamese MiGs. Increasingly, F-4Ds took over from the Republic F-105 the job of bringing ordnance to bear on Vietnamese ground targets. Visitors to St Louis, where McDonnell took over Douglas in 1967, wanted not merely to see the heavy, complex fighter put together by Herman Barkey's design team, but to buy it.
The F-4F was a specialised air superiority version for the West German Luftwaffe, and 175 were delivered. The F-4G designation had been used initially for 12 aircraft taken from the US Navy F-4B production line. They had the two-way ASW-21 data-link system for automated carrier landings, and all later reverted to F-4B standard. In the 1970s, the F-4G appellation was used again for the US Air Force's 'Advanced Wild Weasel' electronic warfare aircraft, 116 of which were converted from F-4E standard. Originally seen as a counter to enemy SAM missile sites and associated radars, the F-4G now carries out a wide portfolio of electronic missions. Aircraft are stationed as far afield as the 3rd TFW Clark Field, Philippines, and 52nd TFW, Spangdahlem AB, West Germany.
The F-4J was an improved production fighter for the US Navy with 8119kg afterburning thrust J79-GE-10 engines, enlarged wing and improved avionics. The F-4K was developed for the UK's Royal Navy and the F-4M for the Royal Air Force, though both are now operated by the latter service which, with expanded commitments following the 1982 Falklands war, has also inherited 15 ex-US Navy F-4Js. The F-4N is an upgraded 'rebuild' of the F-4B, and has in turn been converted to the QF-4N drone. The F-4S is an upgraded F-4J with wing manoeuvre slats and was the final Phantom variant to serve aboard an aircraft carrier, with VF-151 and -161 aboard the USS Midway.
Phantoms serve widely with the Reserve and Air National Guard and are likely to remain in front-line service with some air forces into the 21st century.
| ENGINE||2 x GE J-79-GE-17, 52.8kN|
| Take-off weight||20282 kg||44714 lb|
| Wingspan||11.7 m||38 ft 5 in|
| Length||19.4 m||64 ft 8 in|
| Height||5.0 m||16 ft 5 in|
| Wing area||49.2 m2||529.58 sq ft|
| Max. speed||2300 km/h||1429 mph|
| Ceiling||18420 m||60450 ft|
| Range w/max.payload||700 km||435 miles|
| ARMAMENT||1 x 20mm cannon, missiles|
|A three-view drawing (1648 x 1190)|
|Garynem, garynem=bellsouth.net, 11.05.2013|
I worked on the F-4E at Homestead AFB from mid 1974 through mid 1976. Avionics Communication Specialist. I left Homestead for Elmendorf, AK for my remaining time in. At that time the Alaskan Air Command alert aircraft were the F-4's. Seemed that no one there liked the F-4's that much, so they were happy when I joined the shop - they took good care of me.
|Buddy Black, lbblack52=comcast.net, 11.03.2013|
I served with the Vermont Air Gurd for 35 yrs. We had the D models for 4 short yrs before changing to the Falcon. I was a POL guy that pumped alot of gas in those Phantoms. Loved when the car alarms went off @ the 09:00 takeoff.
Awsome Jet. The military definately got their moneys worth from them.
|Rick Middleton, rick82518=yahoo.com, 09.03.2013|
I was with 8th CSG, FMS Sheetmetal. I love to look at the F-4E with its long gun mounted nose. But that thing was a nightmare to fix from sheetmetal point of view. Replacing Jo-bolts on the Horiz stab was a special delight. I worked on F-4, AC-130, B-57, OV-10 and other aircraft at Ubon RTAFB 70-71 & 72-73. I also worked on the Navy F-4 at North Island Depot.
|Gary R LaBagh, garyrlabagh=hotmail.com, 08.03.2013|
Did not know so many ,were as proud of the F4 as I am.I was in the390th july70tojuly71 and Kunsan Korea with the 68tfs before that.19 out of tech. school.At 20 in Danang in charge of one of the badist smoke burning,bomb droupin,Charlie chasen,Mig killen and most versatile acft.ever designd by man.I was so fortunate to be able to strap in the good men that flew front and back seat.acft 755 which crewed ,never flew after battle damage but brought the pilots home safe.acft 228 replaced her and what flyin s.ob.it was.always ready and dependable.yaah what A honer to have your name on the canopy of an F4 phantom.I was proud of my acft,the men who flew them,and worked on them,and I still am.
|G. Walterreit, MSgt . Ret., ggwalt=ntelos.net, 05.03.2013|
Congratulations Chief Mike....sounds like a blast.... Looking back, I wish I had pushed for a retirement ride in the the F4. I was in the A/C maintenance side of the F4 for the last six years of my career. I stared with "E" and finished with the RF at Shaw AFB, SC. Great airplane.... I hope you relish your memories of the F4 as much as I do. Enjoy your retirement...
|Mike Trout miketrouttriplecrow, 04.03.2013|
Vote for Lucifer
|michael jake jacobssen, michael.e.jacobssen=lmco.com, 27.02.2013|
Anybody know the oldest person to fly in an F-4? I'll put my bid in at age 59 and 147 days....Oct 29, 2009 in QF-4E, 74-1626 at Holloman. My retirement ride after 29yrs, 3mths and 19 days. CMSgt (ret) Mike Jacobssen, Crew Chief, Vietnam Vet.
|SgtVern, vdahl=bellsouth.net, 27.02.2013|
Seems Marines are under-represented in these reminiscences!
Well, this old Marine remembers this old bird fondly. (Danang & ChuLai 66-67 and MCAS Beaufort 67-68).
The thing I remember most is (@ Danang) when we'd get a bird back from O&R: Everyone wanted to give it a test ride. These flights were flown "clean". Throttles to the stops; brakes off; stick back; wheels up; nose straight up.
That was some sight!! Never saw a clean Phantom anywhere else.
|Rick Stockstill, ricks353=yahoo.com, 03.02.2013|
worked at 366 wcs danang 1970-1972 great plane and looked like what a fighter should look like went to madill then got out live in IL best wishs rick
|Gary Retterbush "Busch", gary.retterbush=t-online.de, 25.01.2013|
The Double Ugly was just that but it got the job done. Got two MiG 21's with the gun in the E model flying out of Korat in '72.
|Bill Smith, bj90=att.net, 10.01.2013|
This was the most beautiful, mean looking bird in the Navy inventory. I was honored to have flown this most capable bird. The F-4J was an awesome machine... great for carrier work... superior in the air. Great memories of the Phantom that will remain with me forever. Cadillac of the skies!!!
|Bill Woody, bluesky=att.net, 07.01.2013|
DaNang Jan. 1968 - Jan. 1969 with 366 AMS Radar Shop. Got to tech school at Lowry AFB, CO in Nov. 1965, left there in Aug. 1966 but got to see a few F-4Cs at Buckley NAS (then). Birds were from Davis-Monthan. We had to sign waivers so we could drive out to see them. Got to DaNang a coup of week before Tet'68, got sent out to fix a plane while the NVA regulars we off the east perimeter, snipers shot hole in the roof of the shop. Took a direct order for me to go out there, scared as hell, with my 3-level helper. We were in the southern-most reventment facing east. I could see the trees off base. An SP came up the ladder and asked if we had weapons. I said NO and he said you better get some because they're trying to overrun the perimeter. Moment of truth-I told my helper to get down on the ground, he'd been sitting on the right intake watching me test the radar in the back seat of the F-4. I wanted to run but got the job done and there was nobody anywhere to be seen on the whole flightline. We walked back to the shop, must have been close to a mile. I'll never forget that day. I loved the F-4, proud to work on it, just the C and D model, never worked on an F-4E. I made Staff under four but stupidly got married before Nam. They say you shouldn't carry regret but I know I should have made a career out of it. I loved the USAF and serve now in CAP. Keep 'em flyin'
|Bruce Bilbrey, brucemb=cox.net, 06.01.2013|
One highlight of my life was serving as a crew chief of the F 4 C @ Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ with the 4453 CCTW from 1966 to 1970, with a TDY with the 49 TFW from Holloman, NM to Germany for a special NATO exercise in 1969 with F 4 D's. An unforgetable experience!
|Raymond Appenzeller, Appenzeller1=att.net, 11.12.2012|
Stationed at Homestead 1977-1982, F4E's then to F4D's. 31st EMS Weapons Release. PCS'd to Moody AFB, Ga. 347th EMS Weapons Release 1982-1986. Became a FTD Instructor 3751st Field Training Squadron FTD 322 Moody AFB, Ga 1986-1988 teaching back shop classes and flight line maintenance classes on F4D's until they were being phased out with F-16's A/B models. I loved the Phantom, especially the F4E model. Solid aircraft, at times difficult to fix electrical problems but worth every minute of bites. Aircraft was very strong and versatile, GPU-5 30mm gun pods and SUU-23 Gun Pods. Loved working on all the gun systems including the nose gun M61A1, what a system! Great memories!
|John W. Van Dyke, CMSGT, Ret., jdvandyke=roadrunner.com, 08.12.2012|
My first "taste" of the "Phantom" was at 476th TFS (1968 thru 1970), George AFB, California, later changed to 4452nd. TFTS. We first had F-4D's, one Christmas we had "C's" then prior to my departure we received F-4E's. Onward I went to Udorn RTAB, Thailand, working Phase Dock (night shift) 13th TFS. It was quite experience. Awesome jet to work on. Then, 18 years later, (1988) my last US Air Force assignment brought me back to George AFB and the F-4E Wild Weasels, Component Repair Squadron.
|Pete Rohrig, prohrig=yahoo.com, 03.12.2012|
Was a WCS troop 322X1Q from Jan 1971 to Mar 1975, Korat from 11/71 to 11/72 then Eglin's 4485th TS. You always remember your first love and she was an F-4E. From her blood red shark teeth nose to her carbon coated tail, she was a brute. I would love to hear from other WCS/ECM who know the name. Pete
|Lauren Eastwood, lauren044=yahoo.com, 01.12.2012|
Worked on the F-4C/D at Kunson AFB, Korea and while TDY to Korat RTAFB, Thailand 71-72. Taught the hydraulic/pneumatic system as an instructor while assigned to FTD 533at Hill AFB, Utah and 311 at McDill AFB, Florida. Did many a guard conversion with the F-4, and made a lot of friends.
|Reid, fairburn=chartermi.net, 05.11.2012|
I flew this plane from 1967 to 1982, over 3300 hrs. Japan, Germany, USA, and Thailand. Great airplane, very strong and powerful, and absolutely the one to get you home. J-79 ran very well with only two failures during my time in the saddle. This was a hard to maintain airplane! I miss her!
|Doug Freeman, dfreeman5728=yahoo.com, 26.08.2012|
Love this bird. I was on the weapons crew that loaded Steve Ritchie's F-4D in Udorn Thailand Aug 28 1972 for Mig #5. It was a proud day. Still hung over from the party. I still have the photo of me and my crew next to the plane taken during the photo session.
|bill zimmermna, bill=eagle-flooring.com, 25.07.2012|
I was stationed at Miramar NAS in 1958 in VF-121 when we received our first f3-H Phantom, it replaced our worthless F3-H Demons. It was the most beautiful aircraft I had ever seen. It was then and still is today.
Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?