THE 456th FIGHTER INTERCEPTOR SQUADRON

T PROTECTORS OF  S. A. C.

 

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McDonnell F4 Phantom II

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By Joseph F. Baugher

The McDonnell YF4H-1 Phantom II

 

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The McDonnell Phantom was one of the most successful postwar fighters. It was the second most prolific American jet fighter to be built, outnumbered only by the North American Sabre. Total US production was 5057, with another 138 being built under license in Japan. The Phantom was in continuous production for 20 years (from 1959 until 1979). During the Vietnam War, 72 Phantoms were coming off the production line every month.

Although initially designed as an interceptor and later used primarily in the air-to-ground strike role, the Phantom proved to be surprisingly successful in the air-to-air role when the correct tactics were used. USAF, Navy, and Marine Corps Phantom IIs achieved 277 air-to-air combat victories in Vietnam. In service with the Israel Defense Forces/Air Force, the Phantom claimed 116 air-to-air victories in various conflicts between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

The Phantom served with the United States Air Force, the United States Navy, and the United States Marine Corps. Overseas, it served with the air forces of Australia, Egypt, the Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, The Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Spain, and Turkey. In addition, it served for many years with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom. The Phantom is now in the twilight of its career, and is no longer in active service with the armed forces of the country of its origin. Although no longer in service in the United Kingdom, the Phantom should remain in service with the air forces of most of its other customers until well after the year 2000.

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The Phantom was the first naval fighter to dispense totally with cannon armament. It was the first fighter that was able to identify, intercept and destroy any target that came into range of its radar without having to rely on ground control. It was the first fighter originally designed solely as a carrier-based fighter to be ordered by the USAF. It was the first fighter to have computer-controlled air inlets for optimum airflow to the engines. Finally, it was the first aircraft to be flown simultaneously by both the Navy's Blue Angels and the Air Force's Thunderbirds flight demonstration teams.

The design of what was eventually to emerge as the McDonnell F-4 Phantom began in August of 1953. The McDonnell design team was headed by Herman Barkley. Initially, the goal of the team was to extend the production life of the F3H Demon single-seat carrier-based fighter by boosting its performance and improving its versatility.

Several quite different design concepts emerged, all of them being informally designated by the company as F3H-X since they were all viewed as a natural follow-on to the F3H Demon.

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The first of these preliminary designs was the F3H-C or the "Super Demon". The F3H-C was to be powered by a single Wright J67 turbojet and was to be capable of reaching Mach 1.69 at high altitude. The J67 was a license-built version of the British-built Bristol Olympus turbojet engine, and was untried and unproven at the time.

The F3H-E project (also known as Model 98A by the company) was similarly powered, but dispensed with the nose-high attitude of the Demon and stood level on a tricycle undercarriage. It had a 45-degree swept wing of 450 square feet in area. In the event, the J67 engine never did materialize as a realistic powerplant for American aircraft.

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 The Model 98B (F3H-G) project was to be powered by a pair of Wright J65-W-2 (or W-4) turbojets rated at 7800 lb.s.t. each. The twin-engined configuration was attractive to many in the Navy, because of the increased amount of safety it offered over a single-engined aircraft. The engines were to be fed by a pair of side-mounted air intakes. A low-mounted swept wing and an all-flying straight tailplane were to be used. This wing was slightly larger than that of the F3H-E, with a 530-square foot area. The fuselage was to be designed in conformance with the area rule, in order that minimum transonic drag be achieved.

The F3H-G aircraft was to be equipped with an Aero 11B fire control system and an AN/APQ-150 radar. Armament was to consist of four 20-mm cannon, but provision for a retractable pack carrying 56 two-inch FFAR rockets was also proposed. A heavy load of bombs and fuel tanks could be carried on up to nine external stores stations (four under each wing and one underneath the fuselage). A maximum speed of Mach 1.52 was envisaged.

The J65 was a license-built version of the British-designed Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire engine, and was already in production at the time. Although at that time the Navy was experiencing a good deal of trouble with the J65 engine installed in its North American FJ-3 Fury single-engine fighter, the McDonnell team fully expected that these problems would be resolved by the time that their F3H-G proposal was ready for production.

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The F3H-H was similar in overall configuration to the F3H-G, but was to be powered by a pair of higher-thrust General Electric J79 turbojets. The J79 was at that time a new and untried engine. Assuming that the J79 performed as promised, a maximum speed of Mach 1.97 was envisaged.

The Model 98F was the photographic reconnaissance version of the Model 98C.

Models 98C and D were to be fitted respectively with delta and straight wings, and were to be powered either by a pair of Wright J65s or two J79s.

The Model 98E (F3H-J) was to have been similar to Models 98C and D, but with a larger and thinner delta wing.

Herman Barkley's design team decided that the Model 98B with its twin J65s offered the best potential and they abandoned work on all the other configurations. A full-sized mockup of the Model 98B (F3H-G) was built. The company hedged its bets by designing the right side of the mockup for a J79 engine and the left for a J65.

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On September 19, 1953, McDonnell submitted its Model 98B project to the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) in the form of an unsolicited proposal. Since the Navy as yet had no official requirement for such an aircraft, McDonnell tried to cover all bases by developing interchangeable single- and two-seat noses that could be accommodated to widely different roles. Noses were designed that could carry search radars, missile fire-control systems, mapping radars, cameras, or electronic reconnaissance equipment.

Although the Navy was favorably impressed by the Model 98B proposal, the Grumman XF9F-9 Tiger and the Vought XF8U-1 Crusader which had been ordered respectively in April and June of 1953 appeared to satisfy all the Navy's immediate requirements for supersonic fighters. Nevertheless, the Navy encouraged McDonnell to rework its design into a single-seat, twin-engine all-weather attack aircraft to compete against designs being worked on by Grumman and North American.

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F-4 Three View

McDonnell submitted a formal development proposal for the F3H-G/H to the Navy in August of 1954. The Navy responded in October of 1954 by issuing a letter of intent for two prototypes and a static test aircraft. The Navy assigned the designation AH-1 to the project, reflecting its intended ground attack mission. The AH-1 was to have no less then eleven weapons pylons. Armament was to consist of four 20-mm cannon.

On December 14, 1954, the multi-role mission of the aircraft was formally abandoned by the Navy, and McDonnell was requested to rework the proposal as an all-weather interceptor. McDonnell was instructed to remove the cannon and all hardpoints except for a centerline pylon for a 600-US gallon fuel tank. In addition, troughs were to be added for four Raytheon Sparrow semi-active radar homing air-to-air missiles. A Raytheon-designed APQ-50 radar was added, this installation being essentially that installed in the F3H-2 Demon. A second seat was added to accommodate a radar operator.

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On April 15, 1955, in a formal letter from the BuAer to the Commander of Naval Operations, the J79 engine was formally adopted, and all work on the J65-powered version was dropped.

On May 26, 1955, after further review of Navy requirements, the BuAer requested that the designers complete the two prototypes (BuNos 142259 and 142260) as two-seat all-weather fighters carrying an entirely missile-based armament. On June 23, 1955, the designation was changed to YF4H-1, a fighter designation. A day later, McDonnell issued a new model number for the project--98Q.

This factory designation was to be short-lived, since when a contract for 18 airframes beginning with 2 flight test prototypes and a static test article was signed on June 24, it was for the Model 89R with a modified APQ-50 I/J-band radar with a 24-inch dish which was to be compatible with the Sparrow III semi-active radar homing missile. This order was changed to Model 98S shortly thereafter, the changed designation indicating the provision of the capability of handling the infrared homing Sidewinder missile in addition to the radar-homing Sparrow.

On July 25, 1955, the Navy and the manufacturer agreed to a detailed list of specifications for the YF4H-1. The aircraft was to be capable of staying on patrol for up to two hours at a time at a distance of up to 250 nautical miles from its carriers and was to be able to remain in the air for at least three hours without midair refuelling. At the same time, the go-ahead for the F4H project was confirmed, with a formal contract being written for the two previously-ordered prototypes but also for five pre-production aircraft (BuNos 143388 to 143392).

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 The YF4H-1 mockup was inspected between November 17 and 23, 1955. The twin J79 afterburning turbojets were to be mounted in the lower portions of the fuselage and fed by fixed-geometry cheek air intakes. The primary armament was to be four Sparrow III radar-guided missiles mounted in semi-submerged slots beneath the fuselage. No provision was made for the mounting of cannon.

At the same time, the Navy authorized Vought to build two prototypes of the single-seat, single-engine F8U-3 Crusader III to compete with the F4H-1. In reality, the aircraft should have been designated F9U, and it should have been Crusader II rather than Crusader III.

After much wind-tunnel testing, it was found that the new McDonnell fighter would encounter severe stability problems at high speeds and would as a result probably be limited to speeds below Mach 2. In order to correct these problems, several important changes had to made. One of these was the application of 23 degrees of dihedral to the all-flying tail plane, which became known as a *stabilator*. This gave the necessary degree of stability but still left the tail plane free of the jet exhaust. Another change was to the outer wing panels. The center section of the wing had originally been envisaged as a single unit spanning 27 feet from wing fold to wing fold. It was decided to give the outer (folding) panels twelve degrees of dihedral, and a dog-tooth leading edge was fitted. Another change was to the air intakes. The intakes had originally had a fixed geometry, but it was now decided to fit movable ramps to the sides of the air intakes. These ramps could be adjusted in flight to admit the optimal airflow to the engines at various speeds and angles of attack. These changes took time to incorporate in the design, and initial structural release was not authorized until December 31, 1956.

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In the meantime, on December 19, 1956, the Navy ordered 11 more F4H-1s (BuNos 145307/145317). These were to be the first full production aircraft.

In August of 1957, the modified APQ-50 was dropped for the Phantom, and Westinghouse was given the go-ahead to develop a new system which was initially called the Aero 1A, but later renamed APQ-72. However, the system would not be ready for the first prototypes, which retained the APQ-50.

The first YF4H-1 was to have been powered by a pair of General Electric J79-GE-8 engines, but delays in their development led to the substitution of a pair of 14,800 lb.s.t. afterburning J79-GE-3A engines on loan from the Air Force. The first F4H-1 was a proof-of-concept aircraft and was not equipped with radar and was not wired for missile firings. However, four dummy Sparrow missiles were carried in their ventral under fuselage recesses. Ballast was provided in place of the AN/APG-50 airborne intercept radar that was to be carried. The tandem cockpits were covered by a canopy that was flush with the top of the fuselage. However, on the first YF4H-1, only the pilot's cockpit was provisioned, with the rear radar operator's position being filled with test instrumentation.

The YF4H-1 was fitted with wing leading edge flaps which extended from the wingtip all the way inward to about one-quarter span. They were in two segments, divided by the wing folding point. These would droop downward at low speed to provide additional lift at low speeds.

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The wing leading edges as well as the flaps were all blown by high-pressure air bled from the engine compressors, which produced a sheet of air which helped to keep airflow attached at high angles of attack.

Five-degree fixed air intake ramps were fitted. Flush NACA-type inlets were mounted on the lower sides of the forward fuselage just behind the radome to feed ram air into the air-conditioning system which cooled the electronics.

The trailing edge of the horizontal main wing was divided into two, the inboard surface being a flap and the outboard being a "flaperon". The "flaperon" was a sort of aileron which could be moved down only, not up. Immediately ahead of each was a large spoiler. To roll to the left, the pilot would push the right flaperon down and the left spoiler up. A complex pattern of large perforations was applied to the spoilers which were mounted on the upper wing trailing edges ahead of the flaps and just inboard of the wing folding points. The aircraft had no ailerons in the conventional sense, with control being provided by spoilers and downward flaperons only. The outer wing panels were canted up by twelve degrees and had no control surfaces except for the hinged (drooping) leading edge. The stabilizers had a 23 1/4 degree dihedral, and provided all of the pitch control.

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The YF4H-1 prototype made its maiden flight on May 27, 1958, taking off from Lambert-St. Louis Municipal Airport with McDonnell test pilot Robert C. Little at the controls. On the first flight, the nose gear door would not close, there were difficulties with the hydraulic system, and there were problems with the engines. Consequently, the flight had to be cut short, but the aircraft landed safely. The right engine was replaced and the air inlet ramps were repositioned at 4 degrees. On the second flight on May 29, the nose landing gear door still would not close. However, on the third and fourth flights on May 31 and June 2, things went better and the aircraft flew at speeds of Mach 1.30 to 1.68.

142259 was sent out to Edwards AFB for initial flight trials. The YF4H-1 and the competing F8U-3 were put through the Navy Phase I flight evaluations at Edwards AFB, and in December of 1958 the F4H-1 was declared the winner of the contest. On December 17, 1958, McDonnell was awarded a follow-on contract for 24 more F4H-1s (BuNos 148252/148275). This brought the total production order to 45 machines.

The second YF4H-1 (BuNo 142260) flew in October of 1958. It was provided with an operable AN/APQ-50 radar and a fully-equipped rear cockpit. Variable-inlet ramps were fitted which were set at 5 degrees for the fixed portion and at ten degrees for the variable panel downstream. The aircraft was provided with unperforated spoilers, and a ram-air turbine was fitted which could be extended upward by a pneumatic ram from a compartment situated above the left intake duct. This turbine drove an emergency hydraulic pump that powered the controls in the case of an inflight emergency. An ASA-32 autopilot was provided. YF4H-1 144260 was later retrofitted with Martin-Baker Mk H5 ejector seats. In 1960, wiring was installed for the firing of the Sparrow missiles.

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On July 3, 1959, the F4H-1 was officially named Phantom II in a ceremony held at the McDonnell plant in St Louis. At one time, the project manager, Don Malvern, had wanted to name it Satan, and James S. McDonnell himself had wanted to name the aircraft Mithras, after the Persian god of light. In practice, the Roman numeral II was often omitted from the name, since the original Phantom, the FH-1, had long been out of service and there was no possibility of confusion.

Following trials at Edwards AFB, the first YF4H-1 (BuNo 142259) was returned to the manufacturer in St Louis in October of 1958. It continued to be used for various flight test programs. On its 296th flight, on October 21, 1959, the aircraft suffered a failure of the aft access door of the right engine, which led to a further catastrophic failures and to the crash of the aircraft, killing test pilot Gerald "Zeke" Huelsbeck.

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The Navy was anxious to publicize its newest fighter, and the second YF4H-1 (142260) was used on December 6, 1959 by Commander Lawrence E. Flint, Jr. to set a new world's altitude record of 98,560 feet. This record, set as a part of Project Top Flight, bettered the existing record of 94,658 feet, set by Major V. S. Ilyushin of the Soviet Union in a Su-T-43-1. To set this record, Commander Flint took his YF4H-1 up to 47,000 feet and a speed of Mach 2.5. He then pulled the aircraft up into an angle of attack of 45 degrees, and then climbed to 90,000 feet. He then shut down his engines and coasted up to 98,560 feet and went over the top and then began to fall back to earth. At 70,000 feet, he restarted his engines and made a normal landing.

On December 22, 1961, Marine Corps Lt.Col. Robert B. Robinson used 142260 to set a new world absolute speed record of 1606.347 mph. On his second run at an altitude of 45,000 feet over the measured 15/25 km course, Lt.Col. Robinson's Phantom was clocked at over 1700 mph. This speed run was known as Operation Skyburner. For the record attempt, 142260 was fitted with a special water/alcohol spray in the engine inlet ducts to cool the air ahead of the compressors and thus increase engine thrust.

Flying the previously-modified YF4H-1 BuNo 142260, Commander George W. Ellis set a new sustained altitude record of 66,443.8 feet.

 

 

The McDonnell F4H-1F / F-4a Phantom II

 

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F4H-1 (F-4A) - First of the McDonnell Phantom II Series

The F4H-1 was the initial production version of the Phantom for the United States Navy. Since the J79-GE-8s originally intended for the Phantom were still not available, the first 45 F4H-1s which had been ordered were powered by a pair of 16,150 lb.s.t. afterburning J79-GE-2 or -2A engines. In order to distinguish these planes from later models powered by -8 engines, on May 1, 1961 they were redesignated F4H-1F, the F indicating the use of a special powerplant.

Among the external changes introduced on the F4H-1 was the introduction of a pair of plain pitot inlets for the air-conditioning system, which replaced the flush-mounted recessed ram intakes of the two prototypes. These were mounted on the forward nose just behind the radome. They stood away from the fuselage skin, producing more drag than the flush-mounted units of the two prototypes. However, the increased pressure recovery was deemed to be worth the extra drag.

Initial carrier trials were carried out by BuNo 143391, which was first launched and recovered aboard the USS Independence (CVA-62) on February 15, 1960. Board of Inspection and Survey trials began at NATC Patuxent River in July of 1960.

During test and evaluation, numerous changes were progressively incorporated in the F4H-1. Blocks 2 and 3 were regarded as pre-production, with the remaining 24 being production machines. The standard engine for both blocks was the J79-GE-2 or -2A.

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Among the most significant of the changes incorporated during the production run of the F4H-1 was a change in the geometry of the air intakes. This new intake geometry was first fitted to F4H-1 BuNo. 145307, the first Block 2 aircraft. The upper air intake lip extension that had been employed by earlier Phantoms was eliminated. The outer lip of the inlet now appeared straight from the side view, but sloped forward from bottom to top. The fixed splitter plates were replaced by a combination of a ten-degree variable ramp mounted aft of a fixed five-degree ramp. The inner splitter plate was made much larger and now stood 3 inches away from the wall of the fuselage. The inner splitter plate had 12,500 tiny bleed air holes on its surface through which boundary layer air was sucked by aft-facing ejectors.

Boundary-layer control was achieved via compressor air blown over the leading- and trailing-edge flaps. This system was first tested on BuNo 143392 (the fifth and last pre-production F4H-1F) and was later adopted as standard for production F4H-1s. From BuNo 145307 onward, the high-pressure blowing system along the wing leading edges and flaps was made fully operative, and was retrofitted to two earlier aircraft.

The radar fitted to the early F4H-1F was the I/J-band APQ-72, but initially still with the 24-inch reflector. This radar was sometimes referred to as the AN/APQ-50 (Mod). Attachments for five (and later 9) of the original 11 pylons were restored, with the inboard wing pylons each carrying either an extra Sparrow or a pair of Sidewinders (one on each side of the pylon).

An AAA-4 infrared search and tracking sensor was added in a prominent bulge underneath the radome. It was fitted (or retrofitted) from F4H-1F number 5 (143390) onward. This sensor was only the second IR sensor to enter service outside the USSR. It required radar data for range information.

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A retractable in-flight refueling probe was added to the right side of the cockpit. When retracted it was almost invisible, but when extended it protruded out about four feet to the right of the windshield. The mounting of this probe required the elimination of the right console in the rear cockpit and the redistribution of some instruments.

360 degree steering capability for the nose landing gear was introduced. The AJB-3 weapons delivery set incorporating a loft/toss-bombing computer was fitted, as well as the Collins ASQ-19 communications/navigational/identification package. However, these early aircraft were not capable of achieving full operational capability with these systems.

Production block 3 introduced a new cockpit and a new and larger nose. In the interest of aerodynamic efficiency, the top line of the rear-seat canopy of the Phantom was initially flush with the top of the rear fuselage. This arrangement was found to offer inadequate forward view for the pilot, a critical requirement for a carrier-based aircraft. In response to crew complaints about poor visibility, McDonnell redesigned the cockpit and raised the seats 23 inches higher and fitted new and more capacious cockpits. This raised the canopies over the top line of the fuselage and improved forward visibility for the pilot and increased headroom for the radar intercept operator sitting in the rear seat. In addition, a revised and larger radome was fitted in order to provide space for the new 32-inch dish that was fitted to the Westinghouse AN/APQ-72 radar in place of the AN/APQ-50 Mod and its 24-inch dish. The AAA-4 infrared sensor and its characteristic under nose pod were retained. This AN/APQ-72 radar incorporated an APA-157 CW illuminator to provide AIM-7 Sparrow compatibility. Both the new radar and the revised cockpit were initially fitted to F4H-1F BuNo 146817, the first example of production block 3.

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BuNo 145310 (the ninth F4H-1F and the fourth production machine) was fitted with multiple bomb racks which enabled it to carry as many as 22 500-pound bombs underneath the fuselage and inner wing sections. However, the Phantom was at that time viewed primarily as a shipboard interceptor with only a secondary attack capability, and this system was not adopted for production F-4As or Bs. However, it led later to the F-4C tactical fighter for the USAF.

In service, most late F-4As incorporating all of these changes were re-engined with J79-GE-8 engines rated at 10,900 lb.s.t. dry and 17,000 lb.s.t. with afterburning. This increased thrust more than made up for the increased drag produced by the higher canopy. The Phantom had a thrust/weight ratio that had never before been achieved by any fighter, and a ratio exceeding unity was often achievable in practice, enabling the aircraft to continue to accelerate while traveling straight up.

Initial carrier trials were carried out by BuNo 143391, which was first launched and recovered aboard the USS Independence (CVA-62) on February 15, 1960. It even operated with dummy bombs on the centerline. A second set of trials was conducted aboard the much-smaller USS Intrepid in April of 1960. Trials were generally satisfactory, although there were some adjustments that had to be made to the carrier arrester hook. Board of Inspection and Survey trials began at NATC Patuxent River in July of 1960.

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 As early as 1960, the US Navy began to form the first Phantom-equipped Replacement Air Group (RAG), a squadron designed to train future pilots and backseat radar interception operators. The first RAG was VF-101, based initially at Key West, Florida. VF-101 set up a detachment at NAS Oceana in Virginia, and in time the detachment became larger than the mother squadron.

Since the Navy had not operated a two-seat fighter since the Douglas F3D-2 Skyknight of Korean War vintage, several Skyknights were rescued from the bone yard at Litchfield Park in Arizona and converted to the training role under the designation F3D-2T-2 (later changed to TF-10B in 1962). The other early Phantom RAG was VF-121 based at NAS Miramar in California. When serving with the VF-101 and VF-121 replacement squadrons, the F-4As were sometimes designated TF-4A to reflect the fact that they were not considered as being up to combat standards.

On September 5, 1960, Marine Lt.Col. Thomas H. Miller used F4H-1 BuNo 145311 to set a new 500-km closed-circuit speed record of 1216.78 mph. On September 25, 1960, Commander John F. "Jeff" Davis averaged 1390.21 mph over a 100-km closed course 45,000 feet over the Mojave Desert.

The Navy also launched a project known as Sageburner, designed to set new speed records at low altitudes with their Phantoms. Initial efforts ended in tragedy. On May 18, 1961, Commander J. L. Felsman was killed when his F4H-1F BuNo 145316 crashed while attempting to set a new low-altitude speed record. Pitch dampener failure led to pilot-induced oscillations, causing his Phantom to break up in flight and explode in a fiery crash. The Navy was more successful in its next attempt to set a new low-altitude speed record on August 28, 1961, when Lts Huntington Hardisty (pilot) and Earl De Esch (RIO) flew F4H-1F BuNo 145307 at an average speed of 902.760 mph over a 3 km low-altitude course at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The maximum altitude reached during this flight was only 125 feet, fully living up to the name of the project--Sageburner. 145307 was later turned over to the National Air and Space Museum. It is currently sitting in one of the hangars at the Paul Garber restoration facility at Suitland, Maryland.

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On May 24, 1961, the US Navy launched Project LANA, where the initials stood for "50th Anniversary of Naval Aviation", the L standing for the Roman numeral 50. This was a transcontinental Bendix Trophy Race speed dash from California to New York. Five F4H-1Fs took off at timed intervals from Ontario, California and set out for NAS Brooklyn (formerly Floyd Bennett Field). They made four supersonic dashes, separated by three subsonic mid-air refuellings by tanker-configured Douglas A3D-2 Skywarriors. Three of the Phantoms finished the journey, shattering the record set back in November of 1957 by a USAF McDonnell RF-101C Voodoo. The top speed, set in aircraft 148270 piloted by Lt. R. F. Gordon and Lt(jg) B. R. Young, was an average of 869.73 mph.

On September 18, 1962, the J79-GE-2/2A powered F4H-1F was redesignated F-4A in accordance with the new Tri-Service designation system. The J79-GE-8 powered F4H-1 was redesignated F-4B.

Only 45 F-4As were built before production switched over to the F-4B. Most of the 45 F-4As built served in research and training roles, and very few ever reached squadron service as they were not considered fully operational. Aircraft from Block 3 onward served in the East Coat and West Coast RAGs to train crews and to perfect operational techniques.

Only a handful of F-4As remain in existence. 143388 is in the US Marine Corps Museum and 148275 (the last F-4A built) is at the US Naval Academy. 145307 is presumably kept at the Paul Garber facility, awaiting a suitable display location.

Serials of F-4A:

143388/143392 	McDonnell F4H-1F (F-4A-1-MC) Phantom II 
145307/145317 	McDonnell F4H-1F (F-4A-2-MC) Phantom II 
146817/146821 	McDonnell F4H-1F (F-4A-3-MC) Phantom II 
148252/148261 	McDonnell F4H-1F (F-4A-4-MC) Phantom II 
148262/148275 	McDonnell F4H-1F (F-4A-5-MC) Phantom II 

 

The McDonnell F4H-1 / F-4B

 

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The F4H-1 (Model 98AM) was the first definitive production version of the Phantom, the earlier F4H-1F being considered developmental. The first Phantom to be considered fully-operational was the block 6 version of the F4H-1. To distinguish these aircraft from the earlier 47 aircraft, on May 1, 1961 the latter were redesignated F4H-1F, with the 48th and subsequent aircraft retaining the F4H-1 designation. In September 1962, the F4H-1F was redesignated F-4A, with the F4H-1 becoming F-4B.

The first block 6 production Phantom with the J79-GE-8A or -8B engine (BuNo 148363) flew on March 25, 1961, test pilot Thomas Harris being at the controls. Overall, there was very little difference between it and late Block 5 F4H-1F aircraft. The engines were J79-GE-8As, rated at 10,000 lb.s.t. dry and 17,000 lb.s.t. with afterburner. This aircraft and subsequent machines were fitted with revised air intakes that had the fixed forward ramp set at 10 degrees from the flight axis versus 5 degrees for the modified ramps of the earlier Phantoms. In addition, the variable ramp had a maximum setting of 14 degrees versus ten degrees. They were otherwise similar to late production F4H-1Fs with raised canopies and larger radomes containing APQ-72 radars.

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The F-4B had the AJB-3 nuclear bombing system, the General Electric AN/ASA-32 analog autopilot and flight control system, and the full set of nine hardpoints. All F-4Bs had the Aero-27A ejector rack on the fuselage centerline which could carry a 600 US gallon drop tank. They could also carry a LAU-17A inboard pylon under each wing that could each carry one Sparrow or two Sidewinders. Two MAU-12 outboard underwing pylons were also mounted, which could each carry 370 US-gallon fuel tanks. Four under fuselage slots were provided, each of which could accommodate a semi-recessed Sparrow missile. In the air to ground role, the F-4B could carry a load of up to 16,000 pounds of ordnance. It could carry 8 1000 pound bombs, four AGM-12C Bullpup B air to surface missiles, or fifteen packs of 2.75-inch FFARs.

The APR-30 radar homing and warning system with fin-cap antennae facing to front and rear was fitted to all F-4Bs, although it was added to the first 18 by retrofit.

In a series of flights under Project High Jump, production F4H-1s set several time-to-climb records. On February 21, 1962, two time-to-height records were set at NAS Brunswick, Maine. Lt.Cdr. John W. Young reached an altitude of 3000 meters (9843 feet) in 34.523 seconds, and Cdr D. M. Longton reached 6000 meters (19,685 feet) in 48.787 seconds. John Young was later to become an astronaut in both the Gemini and Apollo programs and was to be the pilot of the first Shuttle flight in 1981. Three more time-to-climb records were set at NAS Brunswick on March 1, 1962. Lt. Col. W. C. McGraw reached altitudes of 9000 meters (29,528 feet) and 12,000 meters (39,370 feet) in 61.629 seconds and 77.156 seconds respectively. Lt Cdr D. W. Nordberg reached an altitude of 15,000 meters (49,213 feet) in 114.548 seconds. On March 31, 1962, flying from NAS Point Mugu in California, Lt Cdr F. T. Brown reached 20,000 meters (65,617 feet) in 178.500 seconds. On April 3, 1962, Lt Cdr John Young reached an altitude of 25,000 meters (82,021 feet) in 230.440 seconds. The last record was set by Lt Cdr D. Nordberg on April 12, 1962, reaching an altitude of 30,000 meters (98,425 feet) in 371.430 seconds. In setting this record, Lt Cdr Nordberg zoomed over the 100,000 foot mark, surpassing the record set earlier by Cdr Flint in the second YF4H-1 back in 1959. However, this mark was not officially recognized by the FAI.

 The first production F4H-1s for the Navy went to operational training units. VF-121, a training group based at Miramar, received its first F4H-1s (F-4B) in early 1961. VF-101, a training group based at NAS Oceana in Virginia, began to supplement its F4H-1Fs with F4H-1s later in 1961.

The first fully-operational Phantom squadrons were VF-74 (NAS Oceana, Atlantic Fleet) and VF-114 (NAS Miramar, Pacific Fleet), which were equipped with F4H-1s in mid-1961.

In October of 1961, VF-74 became the first F4H-1 squadron to complete carrier qualifications. The first operational cruise was made in August-October of 1962 by VF-102 aboard the USS Enterprise (CVAN-65) during its first shakedown cruise. The first full-scale deployment of Phantoms was made by VF-74 when this squadron went to the Mediterranean aboard the USS Forrestal (CVA-59) from August 1962 until March of 1963. In October of 1962, Soviet missiles were discovered in Cuba, and in that month the F-4Bs of VF-41 were transferred from NAS Oceana to NAS Key West in Florida. At the same time, Phantoms operating from the USS *Enterprise* and the USS Independence (CVA-62) participated in the imposition of the quarantine of Cuba.

By the time of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident in August of 1964, 13 Navy fighter squadrons were equipped with F-4Bs. The first Phantom combat sorties were flown during Operation Pierce Arrow on August 5, 1964 from the USS Constellation (CVA-64). These were flown by F-4Bs from VF-142 and VF-143, which flew top cover to warplanes striking North Vietnamese torpedo boat bases in retaliation for the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

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 The first Phantom air-to-air kill of the Vietnam War did not actually involve a North Vietnamese fighter. It took place in a battle between F-4Bs from the USS Ranger (CVA-61) and Chinese MiG-17s near Hainan Island on April 9, 1965. F-4B BuNo 151403, piloted by Lt jg Terence M. Murphy of VF-69 shot down a Chinese MiG-17. However, he himself was shot down immediately thereafter, probably by a Sparrow fired by one of his wingmen. This incident was not generally reported, lest it complicate Chinese-American relations.

The first American crew to shoot down a North Vietnamese fighter were Commander Thomas C. Page and Lieutenant Jon C. Smith Jr of VF-21 flying F-4B 151488 from USS Midway (CVA-41), who destroyed a MiG-17 near Haiphong on June 17, 1965.

In air-to-air combat the F-4 had to rely on its Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles, there being no internal cannon fitted. As a result of combat experience in Vietnam, chaff dispensers were added above the rear fuselage sides. ECM capabilities were steadily improved, with the addition of Radar Homing and Warning Systems and Deception Systems such as the ALQ-51 and AN/ALQ-100.

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The Marine Corps received its first F4H-1s in June of 1962 when VMF(AW)-314 traded in its F4D Skyrays for the Phantom. Beginning in April of 1965, Marine Corps F-4Bs were based at airfields in Vietnam and Thailand (as well as aboard the USS America (CVA-66)). They took an active part in the Vietnam war, primarily in the ground support role. 72 Marine F-4Bs were lost in combat and three others were destroyed in operational accidents.

A total of 649 F-4Bs were built and delivered to the Navy and the Marine Corps between June 1961 and March of 1967.

Navy F-4Bs were flown by operational squadrons until the late 1960s. During the early 1970s, 228 F-4Bs were upgraded as F-4N under Project Bee Line. The first F-4N flew on June 4, 1972. Other F-4Bs were replaced in service by the F-4J, which was a later production variant of the Phantom. The last two active duty Navy squadrons to operate the F-4B, VF-51 and VF-111, finally traded in their planes in 1974.

Some F-4Bs leaving active service were transferred to the reserves. F-4B Phantoms first reached the Naval Air Reserve in 1969 when F-4Bs were assigned to VF-22L1 at NAS Los Alamitos, California. Naval Reserve units for a couple of years thereafter, after which they were consigned to storage at the Davis-Monthan facility in Arizona.

The last Marine Corps unit to use the F-4B, VMFA-323, finally traded in its planes for F-4N conversions in 1979, bringing the service life of the F-4B to a close.

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The F-4B served with the following Navy fighter squadrons

Atlantic Fleet:

VF-11, VF-14, VF-31, VF-32, VF-33, VF-41, VF-74, VF-84, VF-101, VF-102, VF-103, VF-171.

Pacific Fleet:

VF-21, VF-51, VF-92, VF-96, VF-111, VF-114, VF-121, VF-142, VF-143, VF-151, VF-154, VF-161, VF-191, VF-194, and VF-213.

Naval Reserve:

VF-11L1, VF-301, VF-301.

The F-4B served with the following Marine Corps squadrons:

VMFA-115, VMFA-151, VMFA-122, VMFA-312, VMFA-314, VMFA-321, VMFA-323, VMFA-513, VMFA-531, VMFA-542, and VMFAT-201.

29 F-4Bs were loaned to the U. S. Air Force in support of that service's plan to acquire the Phantom as its primary fighter aircraft under the designation F-110. These included BuNos 149405, 149406, 150480, 150486, 150493, 150630, 150634, 150643, 150649, 150650, 150652, 150653, 150994, 150995, 150997, 150999, 151000, 151002/151004, 151006, 151007, 151009, 151011, 151014, 151016, 151017, 151020, and 151021. These were temporarily assigned the USAF serials 62-12168/12196. Although they were marked as F-110, they retained their F-4B designations.

Twelve F-4Bs were modified as F-4Gs (a Navy designation, not to be confused with the USAF F-4G, which was a Wild Weasel aircraft). The Navy F-4G was a version modified for the evaluation of the feasibility of automatic carrier landing operations. These twelve aircraft were flown by VF-213 from the USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63). They operated in the Gulf of Tonkin from November 1965 until June of 1966. One was lost to North Vietnamese AAA, but the others were later brought back to F-4B standards.

Three F-4Bs (151473, 151497, and 151497) were modified as YF-4Js, the prototype for the next and final fighter version of the Phantom to be placed in service with the Navy and the Marine Corps.

Several F-4Bs were modified as DF-4B drone director aircraft.

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In December 1976, the Navy approved the use of the EF-4B designation for F-4Bs that were serving with VAQ-33 in support of the Navy's electronic warfare support effort. Long after most F-4Bs had been retired to storage, five F-4Bs remained serving with VAQ-33 as high-speed targets and as threat simulators to train radar operators. They were provided with electronics countermeasures pods and jammers carried underneath their wings. By the time the designation change was approved, the only F-4B remaining with VAQ-33 was BuNo 153070. The last EF-4B aircraft was finally retired in 1981.

Two F-4Bs were modified as research and development aircraft under the designation NF-4B. They served in test work at the Naval Air Development Center at Warminster, Pennsylvania. The "N" prefix meant that structural modifications prevented their return to full operational status.

 

Serials of the F-4B:

148363/148386 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-6-MC 
148387/148410 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-7-MC 
148411/148434 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-8-MC 
149403/149426 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - later redesignated F-4B-9-MC 
149427/149450 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - later redesignated F-4B-10-MC 
149451/149474 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - later redesignated F-4B-11-MC 
150406/150435 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - later redesignated F-4B-12-MC 
150436/150479 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - later redesignated F-4B-13-MC 
150480/150493 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - later redesignated F-4B-14-MC 
150624/150651 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - later redesignated F-4B-14-MC 
150652/150653 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - later redesignated F-4B-15-MC 
150993/151021 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - later redesignated F-4B-15-MC 
151397/151398 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-15-MC 
151399/151426 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-16-MC 
151427/151447 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-17-MC 
151448/151472 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-18-MC 
151473/151497 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-19-MC 
151498/151519 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-20-MC 
152207/152215 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-20-MC 
152216/152243 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-21-MC 
152244/152272 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-22-MC 
152273/152304 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-23-MC 
152305/152331 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-24-MC 
152965/152994 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-25-MC 
152995/153029 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-26-MC 
153030/153056 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-27-MC 
153057/153070 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-28-MC 
153912/153915 	McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom - Later redesignated F-4B-28-MC 

 

Specification of the F-4B Phantom:

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Engines: Two General Electric J79-GE-8A/-8B/-8C turbojets, 10,900 lb.s.t. dry, 17,000 lb.s.t. with afterburner. Performance: Maximum speed 1485 mph at 48,000 feet, 845 mph at sea level. Initial climb rate 28,000 feet per minute. Service ceiling 62,000 feet, combat ceiling 56,850 feet. Combat range 400 miles, maximum range 2300 miles with maximum external fuel. Weights: 28,000 pounds empty, 44,600 pounds gross, 38,500 pounds combat weight, 54,600 pounds maximum takeoff weight. Dimensions: Wingspan 38 feet 5 inches, wing area 530 square feet, length 58 feet 3 3/4 inches, height 16 feet 3 inches. Fuel: Maximum internal fuel was 1986 US gallons (1358 gallons in fuselage, 630 gallons in wings). Maximum external fuel load was 600 US gallons in centerline tank underneath the fuselage and 740 US gallons in two underwing tanks, bringing total fuel to 3328 US gallons. Armament; Armed with four AIM-7D or -7E Sparrow semiactive radar homing missiles in underfuselage recesses. Inner underwing pylons could each accommodate an additional Sparrow or a pair of AIM-9 Sidewinder infrared homing missiles. In ground attack mode, could carry as much as 16,000 pounds of ordnance on centerline pylon underneath the fuselage and on four underwing hardpoints.


 

The McDonnell QF-4B Phantom II

 

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The designation QF-4B was applied to retired F-4Bs that were converted to remote-controlled drone configuration. The QF-4B was intended as a supersonic maneuvering target aircraft to assist in new missile development.

The first QF-4B conversion took place in mid-1970 when the third F-4B (BuNo 148365) was modified by the Naval Air Development Center (NADC) at Warminster, Pennsylvania. The weapons systems of the F-4B were removed and replaced by radio and telemetry equipment. Ballast was added to the nose in order to preserve the center of gravity in the face of the removed military equipment.

 From late 1971, the first conversion was tested in basic remote control mode, using a Vought DF-8L Crusader as the director aircraft. Tests were made that included switching back and forth between piloted and unpiloted mode, combat maneuvering, weapons trials, and penetrations of hostile airspace. A high-visibility Dayglo paint scheme was applied. It was delivered to Point Mugu in California in April of 1972 for further testing.

At least 44 F-4Bs were modified to the QF-4B drone configuration. They had differing command, datalink, and scoring systems. Most QF-4B sorties were flown manned, with hits or misses being scored electronically, since the cost of even a surplus F-4B is considerable. However, several QF-4Bs went out to White Sands and other facilities for tests of the Patriot surface-to-air missile system, and were expended.


 

The McDonnell F-4G Phantom

 

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In 1963, twelve Navy F-4Bs were modified as F-4Gs. This was a Navy designation, not to be confused with the USAF F-4G of twelve years later, which was a *Wild Weasel* aircraft.

The Navy F-4G was a version of the F-4B modified for the evaluation of the feasibility of a SAGE-like system for fleet air defense. The Navy hoped to be able to connect its fighters, ships, and AEW aircraft by a two-way data link network so that fighters could be controlled through a communication link that coupled their autopilots to a ship or aircraft-based controller. The intent was to make it possible to carry out automatically-controlled interceptions without the need for voice commands from ground controllers. The same system would, incidentally, make night/all-weather automatic carrier landings possible.

In support of this program, a single F-4B (BuNo 148254) was fitted with an AN/ASW-12 two-way datalink communication system and approach power compensator which, coupled with the shipboard AN/SPN-10 radar and AN/USC-1 datalink allowed hands-off carrier landings to be accomplished. An AN/ASW-21 was fitted in place of the ASW-13, which allowed weapons, oxygen, and fuel status to be relayed to the controller. A radar reflector had to be attached to the nose in order to permit the AN/SPN-10 ship-borne radar to track the F-4 during automatic landings. Other changes included the reconfiguration of the number 1 fuel tank, which had to lose 600 pounds of fuel in order to make room for the datalink equipment.

Eleven more F-4Bs were converted to this standard on the production line. Their serial numbers were BuNos 150481, 150484, 150487, 150489, 150492, 150625, 150629, 150633, 150636, 150639, and 150642. The first of these (150481) flew on March 20, 1963. These planes differed from 148254 in having a retractable rather than fixed radar reflector immediately ahead of the nose-wheel bay. In early 1963, two of these planes were sent to the NATC at Patuxent, and in the summer of 1963 the remainder were given to VF-96 for testing.

In January-March 1964, the 10 VF-96 planes were transferred to VF-213. On March 31, 1964, the NATC aircraft were re-designated F-4G, and the VF-213 aircraft followed suit on April 6. The F-4Gs of VF-213 were operated aboard the USS *Kitty Hawk* in the Gulf of Tonkin from November 1965 until June of 1966. One was lost to North Vietnamese AAA, but the others were later stripped of their AN/ASW-21 and brought back to F-4B standards. Seven survived long enough to be converted to F-4N configuration.

The automatic landing and remote-controlled intercept capabilities tested by the F-4G were later incorporated into later production blocks of the F-4B by addition of the AN/ASW-125, which, however, lacked the two-way feature of the AN/ASW-21.

 

 

The McDonnell RF-4B Phantom II

 

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In the initial Model 98 package that was submitted to the Navy, McDonnell had included a Model 98P, which was a photographic reconnaissance version of the basic design. The Navy initially expressed no interest in the Model 98P proposal, since they were perfectly happy with the F8U-1P reconnaissance version of the Crusader. However, the F8U-1P lacked the night reconnaissance capability that was being planned in early 1962 for the Air Force's RF-110A reconnaissance version of the land-based Phantom. This caused the Navy to take a second look at the Model 98P, and in February 1963 the Marine Corps agreed to acquire the first 9 of an eventual 46 RF-4Bs.

In initial proposals and in pre-contract negotiations, this aircraft had initially been referred to as F4H-1P. However, this was changed to RF-4B in September 1962 when the new unified designation scheme came into effect.

 The RF-4B was quite similar to the much more numerous RF-4C of the USAF. Like the RF-4C, the RF-4B was unarmed. The fighter's radar-equipped nose was replaced with a special nose specifically designed for reconnaissance applications. This nose was 4 feet 8 7/8 inches longer than the nose of the armed F-4B. The AN/APQ-72 radar of the F-4B was replaced by the much smaller Texas Instruments AN/APQ-99 forward-looking J-band monopulse radar which was optimized for terrain avoidance and terrain-following modes, and could also be used for ground mapping. There were three separate camera bays in the nose, designated Stations 1, 2, and 3. Station 1 could carry a single forward oblique or vertical KS-87 camera, Station 2 could carry a single KA-87 low-altitude camera, and Station 3 normally carried a single KA-55A or KA-91 high-altitude panoramic camera. The much larger KS-91 or KS-127A camera could also be carried. Unlike the cameras of the Air Force's RF-4Cs, the RF-4B's cameras were fitted on rotating mounts so that the pilot could aim them at targets off the flight path.

The rear cockpit was configured for a reconnaissance systems operator, with no flight controls being provided. Two ALE-29A/B chaff/flare dispensers were installed, one on each side of the aircraft above the rear fuselage. For nighttime photography, a set of photoflash cartridges could be ejected upward from each side of the aircraft.

An AN/APQ-102 reconnaissance SLAR was fitted, with antenna faired into the lower fuselage sides, just ahead of the intakes. This SLAR was capable of tracking both fixed and moving targets. An AN/AAD-4 infrared reconnaissance system was fitted in the fuselage belly just behind the SLAR. AN APR-25/27 radar homing and warning system was used, an ASW-25B one-way datalink was installed. An ALQ-126 deceptive electronic countermeasures package was installed, which obviated the need to carry external jammer pods. An ARC-105 communication transceiver was fitted, which required that large fin-skin shunt antennae be faired into both sides of the vertical fin. A Litton ASN-48 inertial navigation system was carried.

The first 34 RF-4Bs (BuNos 151975/151982 and 152089/153113) retained the powerplants and the basic airframe of the F-4B. However, the last twelve (BuNos 153114, 153115, and 157342/157351) were built with the wide wheels and the "thick" wing of the F-4J. The last three of these (157349/157351) were completed with the smoothly-rounded undernose bulge similar to that seen on many USAF RF-4Cs. This adaptation improved the aerodynamics and increased the internal volume. However, on these three aircraft, the pilot no longer had control of the angle of a KS-87 camera on station 2, which was made fixed.

The film could be developed in flight and film cassettes could be ejected at low altitude so that ground commanders could get aerial intelligence as rapidly as possible.

The first RF-4B flew on March 12, 1965, and deliveries of 46 examples took place between May 1965 and December 1970. All of them went to the Marine Corps.

The RF-4B was first delivered to VMCJ-3 based at MCAS El Toro in May of 1965, and soon after to VMCJ-2 at MCAS Cherry Point and to VMCJ-1 at Iwakuni in Japan.

VMCJ-1 based at Iwakuni in Japan took its RF-4Bs to Da Nang in October of 1966. During the Southeast Asia conflict, three RF-4Bs were lost to ground fire and one was destroyed in an operational accident.

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 Beginning in 1975, surviving Marine Corps RF-4Bs were upgraded as part of Project *SURE* (Sensor Update and Refurbishment Effort). There was some local strengthening of the airframe and the wiring was entirely replaced. These planes were fitted with the AN/ASN-92 carrier aircraft inertial navigation system (CAINS) which replaced the ASN-48. They were also fitted with the AN/ASW-25B datalink, the AN/APD-10B SLAR (replacing the APQ-102A), and the AN/AAD-5 infrared reconnaissance set (replacing the AN/AAD-4). Various externally-mounted electronic countermeasures pods were replaced by the internally-mounted ALQ-126 or -126B electronic countermeasures suite with characteristic cable ducts mounted on the sides of the intakes. The J79-GE-8 engines were later replaced by J79-GE-10 engines.

In 1975, two years after combat in Southeast Asia had ended, the surviving RF-4Bs were regrouped into a new squadron, VMFP-3, based at MCAS El Toro. VMFP-3 stood down in August of 1990, bringing Marine Corps operations of the RF-4B to an end.

Serial numbers of the RF-4B:

151975/151977		McDonnell RF-4B-20-MC Phantom  (USMC)
151978/151979		McDonnell RF-4B-21-MC Phantom  (USMC)
151980/151981		McDonnell RF-4B-22-MC Phantom  (USMC)
151982/151983		McDonnell RF-4B-23-MC Phantom  (USMC)
153089/153094		McDonnell RF-4B-24-MC Phantom  (USMC)
153095/153100		McDonnell RF-4B-25-MC Phantom  (USMC)
153101/153107		McDonnell RF-4B-26-MC Phantom  (USMC)
153108/153115		McDonnell RF-4B-27-MC Phantom  (USMC)
157342/157346		McDonnell RF-4B-41-MC Phantom  (USMC)
157347/157351		McDonnell RF-4B-43-MC Phantom  (USMC)

 

The McDonnell EF-4C Phantom II

 

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The EF-4C Wild Weasel IV was a development of the F-4C, designed in parallel with the F-105 Wild Weasel III program. This aircraft, like the modified F-100F and F-105F, was intended to detect and attack North Vietnamese surface-to-air missile sites. The EF-4C designation was not official.

These EF-4C aircraft were modified F-4Cs which were fitted with electronic equipment that was designed to detect, identify, and locate enemy surface-to-air missile radar installations. The EF-4C aircraft were fitted with the AN/APR-25 Radar Homing and Warning System (RHAWS) with antennae mounted on the top of the vertical fin as well as inside the empty infrared seeker fairing mounted underneath the nose. This system could give the direction of threats and could assign priority to them. An AN/APR-26 SAM launch warning system was also fitted, with a blade-like omni directional antenna installed underneath the nose just behind the infrared seeker fairing. An ER-142 electronic countermeasures receiver was installed. Frequently, the EF-4C carried a Westinghouse AN/ALQ-119 noise and deception active electronic countermeasures pod underneath the forward fuselage.

 The F-100F and F-105F had always been viewed as interim *Wild Weasel* aircraft, pending the availability of the Wild Weasel IV EF-4C Phantom. However, the entrance of the EF-4C into combat in Vietnam was delayed by numerous problems. Among these were insufficient internal space to house the electronic equipment, electronic interference between the various components of the system, and mechanical vibrations of the panoramic receiver pod that was mounted in the starboard rear Sparrow recess. It was not until 1969 that these problems were fully resolved.

36 F-4Cs were ultimately modified to the Wild Weasel 4 configuration. Serials were 63-7423, 7433, 7437, 7440, 7443, 7447, 7452, 7459, 7462, 7467, 7470, 7474, 7478, 7481, 7508, 7512, 7513, 7565, 7567, 7574, 7594, 7596, 7607, 7615, 7623 and 64-0675, 0741, 0757, 0781, 0787, 0790, 0791, 0815, 0840, 0844, and 0847.

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The first EF-4Cs entered service in June 1968 with the 4537th Fighter Weapons Squadron, an operational conversion and tactic development unit based at Nellis AFB in Nevada. At that time, this squadron was part of the 4525th Fighter Weapons Wing. The 4525th was redesignated the 57th Fighter Weapons Wing in October of 1969, and at the same time the 4537th FWS became the 66th FWS.

Overseas deployment of the EF-4C Wild Weasel IV began in March of 1969 with the 80th TFS, 347th TFW at Yokota AB in Japan. However, these planes were transferred in March of 1971 to the 67th TFS, 18th TFW based at Kadena AFB on Okinawa. The 67th TFS relocated to Korat RTAFB in Thaliand in 1972-72 to take part in the Linebacker raids.

 The EF-4C was intended to detect and attack the Fan Song track-while- scan radar that was used to guide the SA-2 Guideline surface to air missiles. The primary armament of the EF-4C consisted of the Texas Instruments AGM-45 Shrike anti-radiation missile, plus an array of cluster bombs and conventional iron bombs. The Shrike missile proved to be rather unreliable in service, since it had to be preset before takeoff in order to home in on a particular frequency. The EF-4C could not carry or launch the AGM-78 Standard anti-radiation missile.

In December of 1969, EF-4Cs were issued to the 81st TFS of the 50th TFW, stationed at Hahn AFB in Germany. The The 81st TFS was transferred to the 86th TFW at Zweibrucken AB in January of 1972.

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 In 1973, surviving EF-4Cs were retrofitted with the Itek AN/ALR-46 electronic countermeasures receiver which provided fast digital processing in a bandwidth ranging from 2 to 18 GHz. Antennae for this system were placed on the tailcone at the base of the vertical fin as well as on the lower fuselage immediately aft of the nose radar. It interfaced with a cockpit display and provided automatic control of jamming assets. In addition, an AN/ALR-53 long-range homing receiver was mounted which could guide aircraft toward surface threats.

 After being replaced by later, more capable versions of the Wild Weasel Phantom, many EF-4Cs were returned to F-4C status and then turned over to the Air National Guard. These ex-EF-4Cs were turned over to the 113th TFS of the 181st TFG and the 163rd TFS of the 122nd TFW, both with the Indiana Air National Guard, which received these planes in 1979. However, neither squadron was actually assigned the specialized Wild Weasel mission, and both squadrons flew their EF-4Cs in the conventional strike role. Both Indiana ANG squadrons exchanged their EF-4Cs for F-4Es in 1988.

 

 

 

The McDonnell RF-4C Phantom II

 

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The RF-4C (Model 98DF) was the unarmed photographic reconnaissance version of the USAF's F-4C. The armament and radar of the fighter version was removed and replaced with equipment specialized for photographic reconnaissance. Perhaps the most readily-noticeable difference between the F-4C and the RF-4C was the presence of a new, longer, and more pointed nose in which the fire control radar of the fighter was replaced by cameras, mapping radar, and infrared imaging equipment for the reconnaissance role.

McDonnell had studied reconnaissance variants of the Phantom from the very start of the Model 98 project back in the early 1950s. They had offered the 98F unarmed photographic reconnaissance version to the Navy as early as August 25, 1953.

Eventually, McDonnell proposals for the Model 98AX (September 1958) and 98DF (January 1961) led to the issuance of Specific Operational Requirement 196, approved by the Air Force on December 31, 1962. The SOR-196 project evolved in parallel with the development of the previously-described Model 98DH (RF-4B) for the Marine Corps. The RF-4B and RF-4C differed from each other only in the previously-described changes between the F4H-1 and the F-110A.

In May 1962, prior to the issuance of SOR 196, the Navy had instructed McDonnell to modify six F-4Bs into YRF-110A prototypes (62-12200 and 62-12201) and RF-110A development aircraft (63-7740/7743). The mockup was reviewed in October 1962, by which time the designation of the RF-110A had been changed to RF-4C. Testing of optical and electronic reconnaissance systems was undertaken in 1963 at Holloman AFB with a bailed F-4B (BuNo 145310).

The first YRF-4C (serial number 62-12200) took off on its maiden flight on August 9, 1963, William S. "Bill" Ross being at the controls. This aircraft had the extended nose of the RF-4C, but was not fitted with any cameras or other reconnaissance systems. It was followed on September 30, 1963 by the second YF-4C (62-12201), which was fitted with high and low panoramic and frame cameras but still lacked most of the other systems that were planned for production aircraft.

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 The RF-4C had three camera stations in the nose. The Forward camera station (situated just behind the radar) could carry a single forward oblique or vertical KS-87 camera. Behind that, in the number 2 or "Low Altitude" station, a KA-56 low-altitude camera could be carried, although this could be replaced by a trio of vertical, left, and right oblique KS-87 cameras. Alternatively, a left or right oblique KS-87 could be carried in this station. A vertical KA-1 could be carried in the low-altitude station instead of the KS-87, or a KS-72 could replace a KS-87 in the 30-degree oblique position. The third station (the "High Altitude" station) was just ahead of the cockpit under the nose, and normally carried a single KA-55A or KA-91 high-altitude panoramic camera in a stabilized mount. Alternatively, two split vertical KS-87 cameras could be carried there, or KC-1 or T-11 mapping cameras could be installed. The High Altitude station could also house an AN/AVD-2 laser reconnaissance set, but this was later withdrawn from use.

The RF-4C was fitted with a photoflash ejection system for night photography. The ejectors were fitted on the upper rear fuselage behind hydraulically-actuated doors. Up to and including RF-4C serial number 71-0259, pairs of ejectors were fitted on each side, one with 26 M112 cartridges and one with 10 M123 cartridges. From RF-4C 72-0145 onward, a single LA-249A ejector was carried, with 20 M185 cartridges.

The AN/APQ-72 radar in the nose of the F-4C was replaced by the very much smaller Texas Instruments AN/APQ-99 two-lobe mono-pulse J-band radar. This radar had both terrain-avoidance and terrain-following modes, and has ground mapping capability. This was later replaced by the Texas Instruments AN/APQ-172 in all surviving RF-4Cs.

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 An AN/AAD-5 or AN/AAS-18 infrared detection set was installed just aft of the nose wheel bay. The AAD-5 is an infrared line scan unit with high performance in dual fields and automatic control of velocity/height ratio and can convert video signals into a permanent film record. The AN/AAS-18 offered improved optics and up to 350 feet of SO2498 film. Some RF-4Cs have been fitted with the AN/AVQ-9 infrared detection set and laser target designator to provide slant range for weapons aiming and high-resolution thermal imaging.

The RF-4C is also fitted with a Goodyear AN/APQ-102 side-looking mapping radar, with antennae on either side of the lower nose just aft of the optical reconnaissance bay. This system was later replaced on some aircraft with the AN/APD-10 with a podded extended range antenna in a modified 600-gallon external fuel tank and a UPD-8 data link assembly replacing the number 2 station door. This data link had a steerable antenna which made it possible to send radar images to ground stations in real time.

The ARC-105 high-frequency radio required a giant shunt antenna which was recessed into both sides of the vertical fin. This required that the upper pitot head on the vertical fin be deleted.

The original nose shape featured a flat underside and an angled window projection for the High Altitude Station. Many RF-4Cs were modified with an aerodynamically-refined nose with a bulging added to the camera housing which allowed larger cameras to be carried.

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From aircraft 69-0375 onward, the low-altitude panoramic camera could be used in conjunction with an ejec-table film cassette. This was designed to get film into the hands of ground-based intelligence units as rapidly as possible. Upon ejection, the film cassette deployed a parachute, and a transmitter was provided to aid in recovery. However, this system proved to be impractical in the field, and immediate post flight film processing capability and readout was provided by the use of film processing vans which were quickly deployed to Southeast Asia.

The RF-4C was provided with a stick and rudder set of controls in the rear seat, and the reconnaissance package operator could and did fly the aircraft on many occasions, especially on long overeater flights. However, the view from the rear seat was very poor, and landings from the rear seat position were very difficult if not downright dangerous. The rear seat position did not have a means to lower the landing gear normally--in order to lower the landing gear, the rear seat had to pull an emergency handle to blow the gear down, which would deplete the hydraulics and cause the wheel brakes to fail. In addition, the rear seat could not lower the arrester hook and could not deploy the drag chute.

The ECM capabilities of the RF-4C were progressively upgraded throughout its long service life. Radar homing and warning systems were fitted. Examples were the ALR-17, -31, -46, -50 or -126. Late in the service life of the RF-4C, the USAF standardized on the use of the AN/ALR-46A radar warning receiver. Newer electronic systems included the Litton AN/ALQ-125 TEREC (Tactical Electronic Reconnaissance) sensor with data link equipment for transmission in near real-time. This system was originally known as *Pave Onyx*. Also retrofitted to some RF-4Cs was the Lear Siegler AN/ARN-101 digital modular avionics system navigational unit. A few aircraft carried the Chicago Aerial Industries Electronic Wide-Angle Camera System (EWACS). The AN/AVQ-26 *Pave Tack* infrared detection set could be carried externally by 39 specially-wired RF-4Cs. A few of these aircraft could carry the AN/AVQ-9 laser target designator slaved to the IR detecting set. An upgraded APQ-172 forward-looking radar was also retrofitted to some RF-4Cs.

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 In 1970, 20 RF-4Cs were retrofitted with the ARN-92 LORAN-D navigation system with a "towel rail" antenna on the upper rear fuselage, which provided all-weather blind navigation capability. These aircraft were all 18 of the Block-40 RF-4Cs and two from Block 41 (69-0349 and 0350)

The RF-4C could also carry the gigantic General Dynamics HIAC-1 LOROP (LOng-Range Oblique Photography) camera system housed inside a large G-139 pod mounted on the fuselage centerline. This camera system was originally developed for the General Dynamics/Martin RB-57F and was capable of showing astonishing detail at standoff distances as large as 100 miles. Several LOROP-equipped RF-4Cs flew reconnaissance missions along the North Korean and Eastern European borders. However, with such a large pod mounted underneath the fuselage, the performance of the RF-4C was severely compromised. Later, 24 RF-4Cs were retrofitted to carry a CAI KS-127A or KS-127F LOROP camera with a 66- inch focal length in camera stations 2 and 3.

Initially, the RF-4C carried no weapons, and the underfuselage Sparrow missile slots of the F-4C were omitted. However, in an emergency the RF-4C could carry a nuclear weapon on the centerline position, but this was rarely done in practice. Aircraft from the European-based 10th TRW were eventually fitted with AJB-7 low-altitude bombing system system equipment just in case the delivery of nuclear weapons ever became necessary. In later years, RF-4Cs were armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles carried on the inner underwing pylon for self-defense. Provision was also made for carrying an electonic countermeasures pod on the inboard pylon underneath the starboard wing, the Westinghouse AN/ALQ-115(V)-15 or Raytheon AN/ALQ-184(V)1 being typical.

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 The first production RF-4Cs went in September 1964 to the 33rd TRTS, a training unit based at Shaw AFB in South Carolina. The first operational unit to receive the RF-4C was the 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron of the 363rd TRW at Shaw AFB, achieving initial combat-readiness in August of 1965. Even then, early RF-4Cs continued to fly without their full sets of operational equipment, and many of the components that they did carry were still unqualified.

As part of the 460th TRW, the 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was deployed to Tan Sun Nhut in South Vietnam in October of 1965. The second RF-4C squadron in action in Southeast Asia was the 15th TRS, which entered combat in February of 1967.

Initial missions turned up a whole host of problems and deficiencies. The AN/APQ-102A side-looking radar had major teething troubles and was initially very unreliable in combat. It took years before its problems were fully fixed. The AN/AAS-18 infrared sensor was initially defective and had to be improved. The RF-4C shared with the F-4C the problems with the defective potting compound in the electrical relays. Airframe vibrations would often result in distorted images being taken by the cameras in the sensor bays.

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During the next eight years of the Vietnam war, the RF-4C served at various times with the 11th, 12th, 14th and 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadrons, flying missions from Tan Son Nhut AB and from Udorn RTAFB in Thalland. The RF-4C flew day missions until 1972 over North and South Vietnam as well as Laos, usually flying alone and without fighter escort. The aircraft posted an impressive record during the most intense years of the war. No RF-4Cs were lost to MiGs, but 7 were shot down by SAMs and 65 were destroyed by AAA or small arms fire. Four were destroyed on the ground and seven were lost in operational accidents. However, considering the total number of missions flown, the loss rate was relatively low.

The last of 503 production RF-4Cs was delivered in December of 1973. The RF-4C had been in production for over ten years, longer than any Phantom variant except the F-4E.

The following outfits flew the RF-4C:

The RF-4C was the first version of the Phantom to reach the squadrons of the Air National Guard. The first ANG unit to receive the RF-4C was the 106th TRS of the 117th TRW of the Alabama ANG, which received its RF-4Cs in February of 1971, replacing that unit's RF-84F Thunderflashes. Afterwards, eight more Guard squadrons acquired RF-4Cs, and a training unit was added to the Idaho ANG.

The following ANG squadrons were eventually equipped with RF-4Cs:

By early 1989, the number of RF-4C squadrons serving on active duty with the USAF was down to seven. These comprised the 16th TRS at Shaw AFB, the 12th TRS, 45th TRTS, 62nd TRS, and 91st TRS at Bergstrom AFB with TAC, the 15th TRS at Kadena AB on Okinawa with PACAF, and the 38th TRS at Zwiebrucken AB in Germany with USAFE. Plans to deativate two of these squadrons had already been announced.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact led to accelerated retirement plans for active duty USAF RF-4Cs. In 1989, the 15th TRS was transferred from the 18th TFW at Kadena to the 406th TRG at Taegu AB in Korea, and was inactivated there the next year.

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 The inactivation of the last USAFE and TAC RF-4C units was in the planning stages when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August of 1990, and further deactivation plans were put on hold. Consequently, the RF-4C was still in service with the USAF at the time of *Desert Storm*.

In response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the 106th TRS of the 117th TRW of the Alabama ANG was deployed on August 24, 1990 to Sheika Isa in Bahrain. Its LOROP-equipped RF-4Cs were used to conduct prewar surveillance of Iraqi forces in occupied Kuwait as as well as those deployed along the Saudi Arabia-Iraq border. Unfortunately, 64-1044 crewed by Major Barry K. Henderson and Lt. Col. Stephen G. Schraam was lost in an operational accident on October 8, 1990. In December, the 106th TRS was relieved by the 192nd TRS of the Nevada ANG. Later, RF-4Cs taken from the USAF's 12th TRS/67th TRW and the 38th TRS/26th TRW were deployed to Desert Shield. The 26th TRW of USAFE were detached to the 7440th Composite Wing at Incirlik AB in Turkey, and the 67th TRW went to the 35th TFW (Provisional) at Shiek Isa AB in Bahrein to serve alongside the RF-4Cs and crews from the Air National Guard. Many of these planes were veterans of combat in Vietnam. The 12 TRS did not arrive in Bahrain until right before the offensive (I seem to remember 1-2 weeks). The 91st TRS had aircrew waiting on the east coast (I believe McGuire AFB) to replace any losses which luckily did not occur.

When the first air strikes against Iraq took place on January 17, 1991, the RF-4Cs were in action from the start. At first, they were limited to daylight operations, flying over Kuwait almost every day in search of Republican Guard units. They flew over Baghdad looking for such targets as rocket fuel plants, chemical weapons plants, and command and communications centers. The RF-4Cs were repeatedly diverted from other photographic missions to go and look for Scud launchers hiding in western Iraq. None were lost in action, although one crashed into the Persian Gulf following the end of hostilities. Fortunately, the crew ejected safely.

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 Following the end of Desert Storm, the RF-4Cs of the 26th TRW and the 67th TRW returned to their home bases, respectively Zwiebrucken AB in Germany and Bergstrom AFB in Texas. Within a year, all of the remaining RF-4Cs were withdrawn from USAF service. The 26th TRW was deactivated in April of 1991 and its RF-4Cs were relegated to storage. The 91st TRS of the 67th TRW was deactivated in September of 1991, thus ending RF-4C service with active duty USAF units. The 12th TRS and the remainder of the wing stood down in 1994.

After the end of Desert Storm, the phaseout of the RF-4C with the ANG was accelerated. The 163rd TRG, the 186th TRG, the 155th TRG, and the 117th TRW switched over the aerial refuelling mission in 1992-94, trading in their RF-4Cs for KC-135s. The 124th TRG of the Idaho ANG converted to F-4G "Wild Weasls. The 192nd RS of the Nevada ANG finally turned in its last four RF-4Cs on September 27, 1995, their planes being flown to Davis-Monthan AFB for storage. This brought the era of RF-4C service with United States armed forces to an end.

Twelve RF-4Cs were subsequently transferred to the Spanish Air Force. Two were loaned to Israel in 1970-71. Twelve ex-USAF RF-4Cs were transferred to Korea in 1989. This leaves Spain and Korea as the only operators still flying the RF-4C.

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 After the completion of the original test program, YRF-4C 62-12200 was modified to serve as the aerodynamic prototype of the F-4E version, flying in this configuration on August 7, 1965. It was later used in Project Agile Eagle to test leading edge maneuvering slats that were fitted to late production F-4Es. The YRF-4C was later fitted with a slotted stabilator and was fitted with various composite material components such as a beryllium rudder. In April 1972, it was modified as a test bed for a fly-by-wire control system. In 1974, it was fitted with canard surfaces and special controls as part of the Precision Aircraft Control Technology (PACT) program. It first flew in this configuration on April 29, 1974. In January 1979, 62-12200 was donated to the USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio, where it is now on display.

Serials of the RF-4C:

62-12100/12101 	McDonnell RF-110A Spectre
			redesignated RF-4C-14-MC
63-7740/7742		McDonnell RF-4C-17-MC Phantom
63-7743/7749		McDonnell RF-4C-18-MC Phantom
63-7750/7763		McDonnell RF-4C-19-MC Phantom
64-0997/1017		McDonnell RF-4C-20-MC Phantom
64-1018/1037		McDonnell RF-4C-21-MC Phantom
64-1038/1061		McDonnell RF-4C-22-MC Phantom
64-1062/1077		McDonnell RF-4C-23-MC Phantom
64-1078/1085		McDonnell RF-4C-24-MC Phantom
65-0818/0838		McDonnell RF-4C-24-MC Phantom
65-0839/0864		McDonnell RF-4C-25-MC Phantom
65-0865/0901		McDonnell RF-4C-26-MC Phantom
65-0902/0932		McDonnell RF-4C-27-MC Phantom
65-0933/0945		McDonnell RF-4C-28-MC Phantom
66-0383/0386		McDonnell RF-4C-28-MC Phantom
66-0387		McDonnell RF-4C-29-MC Phantom
66-0388		McDonnell RF-4C-28-MC Phantom
66-0389/0406		McDonnell RF-4C-29-MC Phantom
66-0407/0428		McDonnell RF-4C-30-MC Phantom
66-0429/0450		McDonnell RF-4C-31-MC Phantom
66-0451/0472		McDonnell RF-4C-32-MC Phantom
66-0473/0478		McDonnell RF-4C-33-MC Phantom
67-0428/0442		McDonnell RF-4C-33-MC Phantom
67-0443/0453		McDonnell RF-4C-34-MC Phantom
67-0454/0461		McDonnell RF-4C-35-MC Phantom
67-0462/0469		McDonnell RF-4C-36-MC Phantom
67-0462/0469		McDonnell RF-4C-36-MC Phantom
68-0548/0561		McDonnell RF-4C-37-MC Phantom
68-0562/0576		McDonnell RF-4C-38-MC Phantom
68-0577/0593		McDonnell RF-4C-39-MC Phantom
68-0594/0611		McDonnell RF-4C-40-MC Phantom
69-0349/0357		McDonnell RF-4C-41-MC Phantom
69-0358/0366		McDonnell RF-4C-42-MC Phantom
69-0367/0375		McDonnell RF-4C-43-MC Phantom
69-0376/0384		McDonnell RF-4C-44-MC Phantom
71-0248/0252		McDonnell RF-4C-48-MC Phantom
71-0253/0259		McDonnell RF-4C-49-MC Phantom
72-0145/0150		McDonnell RF-4C-51-MC Phantom
72-0151/0153		McDonnell RF-4C-52-MC Phantom
72-0154/0156		McDonnell RF-4C-53-MC Phantom
 

Specification of the RF-4C:

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Engines: Two General Electric J79-GE-15 turbojets, 10,300 lb.s.t. dry, 17,000 lb.s.t. with afterburner. Performance: Maximum speed 1459 mph at 48,000 feet (Mach 2.21), 834 mph at sea level (Mach 1.09). Cruising speed 587 mph. Landing speed 143 mph. Inital climb rate 48,300 feet per minute (clean), 8510 feet per minute (with external tanks and camera equipment). Service ceiling 59,400 feet. Combat range 840 miles, maximum ferry range 1750 miles with maximum external fuel. Weights: 28,276 pounds empty, 39,788 pounds gross, 39,773 pounds combat weight, 58,000 pounds maximum takeoff weight. Dimensions: Wingspan 38 feet 5 inches, wing area 530 square feet, length 62 feet 11 inches, height 16 feet 6 inches. Maximum internal fuel in the fuselage tanks was 1260 gallons for aircraft up to production block 40 and 1142 US gallons in block 41 and beyond. An additional 630 gallons of fuel could be carred in the wings. Maximum external fuel load was 600 US gallons in a centerline tank that could be carried underneath the fuselage plus 370 US gallons in each of two tanks that could be carried underneath the outer underwing pylons.


 

The McDonnell F-4D Phantom II

 

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The F-4D was an improved version of the F-4C which was better suited to the specific requirements of the Tactical Air Command. Although it was externally almost identical to the F-4C which preceded it in USAF service, it was very different internally.

The F-4D was authorized in March of 1964, and the first example flew on December 7, 1965. Deliveries began in March of 1966. The first deliveries were to the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing based at Bitburg in Germany. It was later followed by the 4th TFW based at Seymour Johnson AFB in North Carolina in January of 1967. A total of 793 F-4Ds were built for the USAF.

The F-4D had the same engines and basic airframe as the F-4C, and had the same internal fuel tankage as that of the RF-4C. The major difference was in the avionics. The most significant change was the replacement of the APQ-100 radar of the F-4C by the smaller and lighter partly solid-state AN/APQ-109A. This was part of the AN/APA-165 radar set which introduced an air-to-ground ranging mode using movable cursors. The F-4Ds fitted with the AN/APQ-109A radar set could be externally distinguished from the F-4C by the presence of a larger radome. However, some F-4Ds were fitted with the AN/APA-157 radar set group similar to that fitted to the F-4C and were hence externally identical to the F-4C.

The undernose pod for the AAA-4 infrared search and track was removed. The Collins ASQ-19 miniaturized communication/navigation/identification suite became standard. The Litton ASN-48 inertial navigation system of the F-4C was replaced by an ASN-63 set, which was upgraded and made lighter in weight. An AJB-7 all-altitude bomb delivery system was provided, which was connected to an ASQ-91 weapons release computer for delivery of laser-guided bombs.

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 The F-4D retained the AIM-7 Sparrow capability of the F-4C, but it deleted the Sidewinder capability on the inboard underwing pylon in favor of the Hughes AIM-4D Falcon infrared-homing missile. The AIM-4D (originally designated GAR-2B) had a launch weight of 134 pounds and had an maximum effective range of about 6 miles.

Starting with Block 27, the infrared search and track pod under the radome was reinstalled, but not to house the AAA-4 infrared search and track, but rather to carry the forward amplifier and antenna of the ALR-25/26 radar warning system. Later, this system was replaced by APS-107A with fin antennae and ALR-69(V)2 with antennae in the chin pod.

Externally-hung jammers that could be carried included the ALQ-87 FM barrage jammer, the Westinghouse ALQ-101 noise/deception jammer, and the Westinghouse ALQ-119 noise/deception jammer capable of covering three bands.

A multiple ejector rack was provided for the centerline pylon and triple ejector racks were provided for the inboard underwing pylon.

The weapons system officer in the back seat was often given a TV display fed from the seeker of a homing bomb system, initially for the GBU-8 and later for the GBU-15.

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 For weapons aiming, the F-4C had relied on a fixed sight and a simple chart on which it the image of the target was projected. The operation of this system made accurate bombing very difficult. The F-4D had improved avionics to increase the accuracy of its air-to-ground weapons. These included an AN/ASQ-91 weapons release computer system. This system measured various aircraft parameters such as speed, attitude, and climbing rate, and combined it with radar data on the slant range to the target to tell the bomb when to drop from the aircraft.

Also fitted was an AN/ASG-22 lead computing optical sight with amplifier and gyro. This system was designed to improve the effectiveness of the Phantom in air-to-air combat. The system combined information about speed, air density and angle of attack, and combined it with radar data about the velocity, direction and distance of the target to compute the lead angle needed to score a hit.

From the spring of 1967, the F-4D gradually began to replace the earlier F-4C in combat in Vietnam. It initially appeared over Vietnam with the 8th TFW, commanded by Lt.Col. Robin Olds. The first F-4D MiG "kill" took place on June 5, 1967, when crewmen Maj. Everett T. Raspberry and Capt. Francis Gullick shot down a MiG-17 near Hanoi. The F-4D eventually destroyed 45 enemy aircraft, and the USAF's 3 Vietnam-era aces got their fifth kills in F-4Ds during the Linebacker campaign of 1972. Captain Steve Ritchie of the 432nd TFW got his fifth kill in F-4D number 66-0167 on August 18, 1972.

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 However, the infrared Falcon proved relatively unsuccessful in air-to- air combat in Vietnam, shooting down only four MiG-17s and one MiG-21 between October 26, 1967 and February 5, 1968. The Falcon was definitely not a good dog fighting missile, having been originally designed back in the 1950s for bomber interceptions. One of the basic problems in using the Falcon for dog fighting was that its aerodynamic design made for relatively limited maneuverability. The moveable surfaces at the end of the four delta wings of the Falcon did not provide sufficient aerodynamic force for the rapid changes of direction that were required to be effective against highly-maneuverable fighters.

The Falcon also proved to be somewhat temperamental in service, requiring a lot of careful setting up and tweaking. In addition, the Falcon had a tendency to cause engine flameouts when fired. Perhaps the most significant problem with the AIM-4D was that its fire control system required 6-7 seconds to actually launch the missile after the firing button was pushed, which is an eternity in a dogfight. The internal systems and aerodynamic surfaces of the Falcon were powered by an internal turbo-alternator and hydraulic power unit which was driven by a gas generator. This system took a few seconds to spin up and take over control from the aircraft fire control system. Also, the analog computers in the fire control system had to calculate several pre-launch attack parameters and had to pass them along to the missiles' guidance system, which also took a second or two.

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 Thirdly, the Falcon required a direct hit to explode, since there was no proximity fuse. The leading edges of the four delta wings were made of fibreboard, and the intent was that upon impact the missile would bury itself in the fuselage of the target up to the midpoint of the missile's wing. The fibreboard would then crush, completing a circuit and detonating the warhead. Another problem was that the explosive warhead was quite small, only about 4 pounds.

Consequently, combat pilots in Vietnam were very uncomplimentary about the Falcon. As a result of the barrage of complaints from the field, the Sidewinder capability on the inboard underwing pylons was hastily restored. However, in fairness to the Falcon, virtually ALL of the early air-to-air missiles proved to be troublesome in Vietnam and less deadly to enemy aircraft than anticipated.

In later years, the absence of an internal cannon was seen as a liability in close-in air-to-air combat. The F-4D could carry an external centerline SUU-23 pod containing an M-61A1 cannon, but it was bulky, provided lots of drag which seriously compromised performance, and was rather inaccurate to boot. In addition, the cannon pod took up valuable real estate underneath the fuselage, markedly reducing the offensive load that could be carried.

The Westinghouse AN/ASQ-152(V)-2 Pave Spike laser target designator was fitted to several F-4Ds. The cylindrical Pave Spike laser designator pod was mounted inside one of the Sparrow missile wells on the fuselage underside. The system used television optics, which made it daylight-capable only. Those Pave Spike aircraft which had the capability of launching the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missile included 66-7509, 7531, 7546, 7634, 7661, 7722, 7746, 8819, and 8821.

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 The AN/AVQ-10 Pave Knife laser target designator could be carried on the inboard underwing pylon of specially modified F-4Ds. This pod had a stabilized head housing a bore sighted TV camera and laser designator. It had a low-light television system, which made nighttime missions theoretically possible, although it is not certain that this was ever done. Attempts were made to slave the pod's optics to the aircraft radar, but these were not successful. The system operated by having the pod look in the same direction as the pilot's bomb sight, with the weapons system officer then finding the target on his monitor screen as the pilot pointed his aircraft at it. Pave Knife aircraft included 66-7652, 7674, 7675, 7679, 7681, 7707, 7709, 7743, 7760, 7766, and 7773. Combat missions with the Pave Knife began on May 23, 1968, initially in conjunction with the GBU-10/B laser-guided bomb. All Pave Knife aircraft were assigned to the 433rd TFS of the 8th TFW. Perhaps the most spectacular use of the Pave Knife was the dropping of a span of the Paul Doumer Bridge near Hanoi on May 10, 1972. This bridge had survived literally hundreds of previous attacks.

Two F-4Ds (66-8738 and 66-8812 were fitted with the AVQ-11 Pave Sword precision attack sensor. This consisted of a modified AIM-9 Sidewinder seeker head as a laser spot tracker for targets designated by AVQ-12 Pave Spot laser designators carried by O-2As. The system was mounted inside a modified SUU-11 gunpod that was suspended from the right-forward Sparrow well or from the right inboard underwing pylon.

F-4D number 66-8700 received the Pave Fire system mounted in a centerline pod. This system was supposed to use low-light level television and laser ranging equipment to perform dive-toss bombing missions at night. In such a mission, the attacking aircraft was supposed to dive on the target from a medium altitude, acquire and designate the target, then pull up before releasing its "dumb" bombs. However, the designation of the target was found to be more tricky than expected, and the Pave Fire system was never very successful, and only one Phantom was so modified.

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The AVQ-9 Pave Light laser designator was fitted to 65-0597, 0609, 0612, 0642, 0677, 0706, 0786, and 66-8814, 8815, 8817, and 8823. This designator was mounted on the left side of the rear canopy frame of the F-4D. In order to use the system, the pilot had to fly in a left turn around the target and shine the laser while other aircraft attacked it. If an emergency escape proved to be necessary, the WSO first had to demount and store the designator before he could safely eject. Aircraft fitted with the Pave Light system were assigned to the 8th TFW.

AN/ARN-92 LORAN-D equipment was fitted to Pave Phantom F-4Ds. They could be identified by a rather prominent "towel-rail" antenna on the upper rear fuselage behind the rear cockpit. A total of 72 aircraft from blocks 32 and 33 were so equipped. In Vietnam, the primary mission of these Pave Phantom F-4Ds was the seeding of the Ho Chi Minh trail with sensors, which required the precise nighttime navigational capability provided by LORAN. The primary operators of the "towel-rail" F-4Ds were the 25th and 497th TFS of the 8th TFW and the 555th TFS of the 432nd TFW. Subsequently, these planes were passed along to the 457th TFS of the 301st TFW, the 23rd TFS of the 52nd TFW, and the 704th TFS of the 924th TFG.

The Combat Tree modification of 1968-69 permitted the retention of a full missile load while carrying electronic countermeasures gear. It did this by adding an attachment point for a countermeasures pod on the inboard pylon, which could now carry two more AIM-9J Sidewinder missiles on each side.

Under the Pave Arrow program, two F-4Ds were equipped with a Sidewinder infrared seeker mounted in a fixed pod for locating heat sources from ground targets.

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The designation EF-4D was given to four F-4Ds modified for the Wild Weasel IV/V SAM suppression role. 65-0657 and 65-0660 were fitted with the AN/APS-107 radar homing and warning system and a target acquisition system for AGM-78 Standard anti-radiation missiles. 66-7635 and 66-7647 served as test beds for the AN/APS-38 warning and attack system developed by McDonnell Douglas and later adopted for the F-4G.

The F-4D served with the following Air Force Wings:

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As part of the Shah's ambition to turn Iran into a major world power, the Nirou Havai Shahanshahiye Iran (Imperial Iranian Air Force) placed a order for 16 F-4Ds in 1967. A second batch of 16 more F-4Ds was later ordered. The first F-4Ds arrived in Iran on September 8, 1968, with a total of 32 F-4Ds being ultimately delivered to the Imperial Iranian Air Force. They were later supplemented by large batches of F-4Es and RF-4Es, which made Iran the third-largest operator of the Phantom after the USA and Israel. Iranian F-4Ds were used in unsuccessful attempts to intercept Soviet MiG-25s that were spying on Iran. Their first combat use was in 1975 when Iran provided assistance to the Sultan of Oman in action against rebels. One of these was lost to ground fire. With the overthrow of the Shah in 1979 by the Islamic fundamentalist revolution, the shipment of spare parts for Iranian Phantoms was embargoed, and many planes had to be cannibalized to keep others flying. However, some spare parts have managed to sneak into Iran from Israel and from some NATO countries. When Iraq attacked Iran in September of 1980, only 40 percent of the Iranian Phantom force was operational due to a shortage of replacement parts.

 In 1968, the Republic of Korea, having gotten rather nervous about border clashes with North Korea, ordered an initial batch of 18 F-4Ds. This order was filled using aircraft drawn from from existing USAF stocks rather than by new construction. The first four F-4Ds arrived in Korea in August of 1969. Eventually, at least 42 ex-USAF F-4Ds were transferred to South Korea, the last being delivered in 1988.

In the early 1980s, F-4Ds began to reach Air Force Reserve units. The units obtaining the F-4D included:

By the late 1980s, most of the AF Reserve units had exchanged their F-4Ds for F-16A/Bs. The last AF Reserve unit to use the F-4D, the 482nd TFW, converted to F-16A/Bs in November of 1989.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, ex-USAF F-4Ds began to reach the Air National Guard. The first ANG unit to operate the F-4D was the 178th FIS of the 119th FIG of the North Dakota ANG, which got its planes in March of 1977. ANG F-4Ds served both in the tactical fighter role and in the interceptor role. The following ANG units are known to have operated the F-4D:

During the early 1990s, the F-4Ds in the ANG were all withdrawn from service and replaced by F-16s. By 1992, the last F-4Ds had been withdrawn from the fighter interceptor groups of the Air National Guard.

No F-4Ds remain in service with any unit of the USAF or the Air National Guard. However, numerous F-4Ds remain flying with the Republic of Korea Air Force. It is uncertain how many F-4Ds remain in service in Iran, but probably most are by now grounded due to the lack of spare parts and are no longer serviceable.

F-4D serials:

64-0929/0937		McDonnell F-4D-24-MC Phantom
64-0938/0963		McDonnell F-4D-25-MC Phantom
64-0964/0980		McDonnell F-4D-25-MC Phantom
65-0580/0611		McDonnell F-4D-26-MC Phantom
65-0612/0665		McDonnell F-4D-27-MC Phantom
65-0666/0770		McDonnell F-4D-28-MC Phantom
65-0771/0801		McDonnell F-4D-29-MC Phantom
66-0226/0283		McDonnell F-4D-29-MC Phantom
66-7455/7504		McDonnell F-4D-29-MC Phantom
66-7505/7650		McDonnell F-4D-30-MC Phantom
66-7651/7774		McDonnell F-4D-31-MC Phantom
66-8685/8698		McDonnell F-4D-31-MC Phantom
66-8699/8786		McDonnell F-4D-32-MC Phantom
66-8787/8825		McDonnell F-4D-33-MC Phantom
67-14869/14876	McDonnell F-4D-35-MC Phantom (for Iranian AF)
67-14877/14884	McDonnell F-4D-36-MC Phantom (for Iranian AF)
68-6904/6911		McDonnell F-4D-37-MC Phantom  (for Iranian AF)
68-6912/6919		McDonnell F-4D-38-MC Phantom  (for Iranian AF)
 

Specification of the F-4D:

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Engines: Two General Electric J79-GE-15 turbojets, 10,300 lb.s.t dry, 17,000 lb.s.t. with afterburner. Performance: Maximum speed 1432 mph at 42,000 feet (Mach 2.17), 826 mph at sea level (Mach 1.08). Cruising speed 587 mph. Landing speed 165 mph. Inital climb rate 40,100 feet per minute. Service ceiling 55,850 feet. Combat range 502 miles, maximum range 1844 miles with maximum external fuel. Weights: 28,958 pounds empty, 51,577 pounds gross, 38,781 pounds combat weight, 59,380 pounds maximum takeoff weight. Dimensions: Wingspan 38 feet 5 inches, wing area 530 square feet, length 58 feet 3 3/4 inches, height 16 feet 3 inches. Fuel; Maximum internal fuel in the fuselage tanks was 1260 gallons. An additional 630 gallons of fuel could be carried in internal tanks inside the wings. Maximum external fuel load was 600 US gallons in a centerline tank that could be carried underneath the fuselage plus 370 US gallons in each of two tanks that could be carried underneath the outer underwing pylons, bringing total fuel load to 3230 US gallons. Armament: Armament consisted of four AIM-7 Sparrow semi-active radar homing air-to-air missiles in semi-recessed slots in the fuselage belly, plus two to four AIM-9 Sidewinder infra-red homing air-to-air missiles carried under the wings on the inboard pylons. A total offensive load of up to 16,000 pounds could be carried on the centerline and four underwing hardpoints.

 

 

The McDonnell F-4E Phantom II

 

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The F-4E was to have been fitted with the AN/APS-107 radar homing and warning system, but this equipment performed unsatisfactorily and the first 67 F-4Es were delivered without any RHAW at all.

The weight of the gun and its 639-round ammunition drum was counterbalanced by fitting an additional 95-gallon fuel tank in the rear fuselage, bringing total internal fuel capacity to 1993 gallons. One of the two fin-mounted pitots (the upper one) was relocated to the extreme nose. The F-4E retained the semi-recessed AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles and the external store stations of the earlier variants. The engines were a pair of J79-GE-17 engines with an afterburning thrust of 17,900 pounds. In the interest of eliminating excess weight, the powered folding wing mechanism of the earlier USAF Phantoms was finally eliminated. Also deleted was the emergency ram-air turbine what sat inside a recess on the upper rear fuselage.

 The second production F-4E (66-0285) flew for the first time on September 11, 1967. It differed from 66-0285 by having a slotted stabilator. This slotted stabilator was added in order to give greater tail plane effectiveness, helping to counteract the increased weight in the nose. The second production F-4E also introduced the long "turkey feather" afterburner, which became a trademark of the F-4E. As the first fully aerodynamic representative F-4E, 66-0285 was earmarked for spin testing.

The third F-4E (66-0286) was delivered to Nellis AFB in Nevada on October 2, 1967 for service testing.

At Block 31, a stall warning system was added.

It turned out that the elimination of the emergency ram-air turbine was a mistake, and some sort of emergency power source was needed in case of engine failure. Consequently, starting with Block 40 (68-0452), an auxiliary power unit was added underneath the stabilizer. However, it was only a battery-powered electrically-driven hydraulic pump and was not a small turbine engine. It provided just enough control to allow time for ejection, and probably would not last long enough to allow a landing.

Starting with Block 41 (68-0495 and beyond), the fuselage bladders were replaced by self-sealing fuel tanks. This reduced internal fuselage fuel capacity from 1364 to 1225 US gallons.

Starting with Block 42, the more advanced AN/APR-36/37 radar and homing warning system was fitted. This was a more comprehensive set than the troublesome APS-107, and was served by four flat, circular, spiral receiving antenna, one on each side of the extreme end of the rear fuselage facing aft and one at the front of each wingtip facing forward.

At block 48 (71-0224), the main wingbox was given thicker lower skins, with the steel reinforcing strap previously required being deleted. A Northrop-designed ASX-1 electro-optical (TISEO) target acquisition and tracking sensor was added in an attachment mounted on the inner left wing leading edge.

When Block 48 was upgraded to ARN-101 standards, the ASN-63 inertial navigation system, the ASQ-91 weapons release computer, and the ASN-46A analog navigation computer set were deleted. The ASG-26 lead computing optical gunsight was improved and made easier to use, with weapons control switches and displays made easier to read.

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 The most significant change at 71-0237 was the replacement of the blown leading-edge wing droops of earlier Phantoms by slats. This was done in the interest of obtaining enhanced combat maneuverability, which had been one of the Phantom's weak points. The outer leading edge slats were were driven by a hydraulic jack and terminated in a large "dogtooth" at the inboard end where the wing folding joint had once been. Immediately downstream of the dogtooth edge was a small wing fence. The inboard wing was also fitted with powered slats which terminated about three feet from the root. The inner 3 feet of the leading edge were fixed.

The first production F-4E to be fitted with slats was 71-0237, but the first to actually fly with slats was 71-0238 which made its maiden flight on February 11, 1972. The addition of these slats greatly enhanced the maneuvering performance, and the USAF decided to retrofit earlier F-4Es with these slats. The USAF ordered the first slat modification kits in April of 1972, and the first retrofitted F-4E (serial number 69-7524) flew on September 28, 1972. 304 earlier production block F-4Es were retrofitted with these slats, which included just about every surviving F-4E except for those serving with the Thunderbirds.

Beginning with Block 54, high-performance antenna and coaxial cables were added, and on Block 56, the AN/APR-36/37 system was replaced by the Itek AN/ALR-46 RHAWS with fast digital processing capability and a cockpit display plus automatic control of jamming assets. It had a programmable processor which could respond to new threats as they came along.

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 At about the same time, all F-4Es were wired to be able to take two electronic jammer pods (which were usually the Westinghouse ALQ-131) and were fitted with an AN/APX-80 IFF controller in the cockpit. The APX-80 controlled the AXP-76A and the APX-81 IFF interrogators. In addition, the F-4Es were given the capability of carrying an optional removable KB-18A strike camera in the right front Sparrow slot. In the post-Vietnam era, the ECM pods introduced on F-4Es (Westinghouse ALQ-119, QRC-80-01, ALQ-131, and ALQ-184) could not be carried in the right front Sparrow well because of the longer nose gear door required by the gun fairing. F-4Es could only carry an ECM pod in the left front Sparrow well or on the inboard weapons pylons.

Some F-4Es of various blocks were fitted with under-fuselage housings for N-9 forward- and DBM-4C or KB-21B/C aft-looking combat documentation cameras, but these were very rarely actually fitted in practice.

Blocks 53 and beyond introduced the Mk III anti-skid brake system and a KB-25/A gunsight camera (which was eventually fitted to all F-4Es). Also introduced with this Block was the capability to launch the Maverick air-to-surface missile, which was made possible by the fitting of the Digital Scan Converter Group multifunction display. Earlier F-4Es up to 67-341 had Direct View Storage Tube radar scopes which were incompatible with systems such as the AGM-65 Maverick that required digital interfaces.. This Maverick capability was eventually retrofitted to all F-4Es from Blocks 36 and later).

Block 53 also introduced the J79-GE-17C or -17E with a low-smoke combustor. Earlier Phantoms had the annoying habit of leaving a trail of black smoke behind them, making them easier to spot by enemy gunners on the ground.

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 At about the same time, the gun installation underwent a major design. From the beginning, the sheer power of the muzzle blast and the highly-explosive gun gases generated during firing had created severe problems for the design team. With the original gun muzzle design, the F-4E often experienced engine flameouts caused by ingestion of gun gases into the engine intakes. In addition, the shape of the muzzle often produced a loud whistle which could be heard on the ground long before the approaching aircraft actually appeared. These problems were eventually cured by adding a long blast diffuser to each of the six barrels, joined to the barrel by a stripper diffuser which ejected most of the gun gas sideways and also decelerated and cooled the blast. A ram inlet was fitted above the forward fuselage to blast fresh air through the gun compartments. This inlet opened during gun firing and remained open for 30 seconds after the gun stopped firing. In addition, a "derichment system" was added which was triggered by the gun-firing circuit and enabled either engine to dump gas-enriched air overboard before it could enter the engine compressor and cause stalls or flameouts. These modifications came to be known as the "Midas 4". These modifications were introduced from Block 48 onward and were retrofitted to earlier blocks. Externally, the modified Midas 4 update could be recognized by a distinct projection protruding out in front of the gun compartment which extended forward underneath the radome.

The AVQ-23A/B Pave Spike laser target designator and rangefinder system was fitted to several later F-4Es and was retrofitted to some earlier F-4Es blocks 36 to 45. Also retrofitted to Block 48 aircraft was the AN/AVQ-26 Pave Tack infrared/laser target designator, as well as the previously-mentioned AN/ASX-1 electro-optical target identification system. 180 F-4Es were retrofitted with the Lear Siegler AN/ARN-101(V) digital navigational/attack system starting in the autumn of 1977. Aircraft carrying this system could be distinguished by the presence of a "doghouse" antenna and blade antennae on the fuselage spine.

The AVQ-26 Pave Tack pod was the first laser designation system designed to provide the capability of autonomous delivery of laser guided bombs at night. It was originally planned to equip 180 F-4Es with this system, but because of delays and development problems the actual number equipped was substantially lower. The pod was too large to be fully compatible with the F-4E, and it had to be carried on the centerline station, replacing the 600-gallon external fuel tank and taking up valuable bomb-carriage space.

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 The F-4E stayed in production for twelve years, and was built for more air forces and in larger numbers than any other Phantom variant. A total of 1387 F-4Es were built before production came to an end. 993 of these machines were intended for the USAF, with the remaining 394 being delivered new to foreign customers. 24 USAF F-4Es were taken from store and loaned to foreign customers, and 191 were passed on to foreign customers from USAF stocks. The last F-4E (an F-4E intended for Korea) left the production line at McDonnell on October 25, 1979. This brought domestic production of the Phantom to an end.

993 F-4Es were built for the USAF. Included in this total are 10 F-4E-63-MCs purchased by Germany for use in a joint US/German training program at George AFB in California, plus 58 "payback" F-4E-60-MC to 62-MCs acquired as replacements for aircraft that were hastily transferred by the USAF to Israel during the Yom Kippur War of October 1973.

The USAF's Thunderbirds flight demonstration team re-equipped with the F-4E in June of 1969. The machines that it received were modified early production F-4Es, and were among the few not to be retrofitted with maneuvering slats. The planes were stripped of their guns and APQ-120 radar, which were replaced by storage bins and ballast. Gun vents were faired over and a strip navigation antenna was provided, along with glidescope and VHF. Four dummy Sparrow missile shapes were installed in the under-fuselage slots, these dummy missiles serving as oil and dye tanks. These F-4Es served with the Thunderbirds until 1974, when the energy crunch that took place as an aftermath of the Yom Kippur War caused them to be replaced by the more fuel efficient Northrop T-38 Talon two-seat trainer.

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 The first F-4Es reached the Southeast Asia theatre in November of 1968, equipping the 469th TFS at Korat in Thailand. The 4th FTS and 421st TFS arrived from CONUS in April 1969 with F-4Es to join the F-4Ds of the 366th TFW at Da Nang AB. After this, the F-4Ds of the 366th TFW assumed forward air control duties, whereas the F-4Es conncentrated on aircraft escort duties and conducted ground attack missions Six more F-4E squadrons deployed to Vietnam and Thailand in 1972 in response to the North Vietnamese invasion of the South in the spring of 1972.

The F-4E was credited with 21 MiG kills during the war. 10 of these were brought down by Sparrows, five with gunfire, four with Sidewinders, one with a combination of Sidewinder and gunfire, and one while maneuvering (no weapons being fired). However, most combat missions flown in Vietnam by the F-4E were ground-attack missions.

Beginning in 1975, 116 F-4E-42-MC through -45-MCs were converted to F-4G Wild Weasel defense suppression aircraft. These will be discussed in a later article.

The F-4E began be supplanted in USAF frontline units by the newer F-15 Eagle starting in 1975 and by the F-16 starting in 1979. With the USAF in Europe, the last F-4Es were with the 52nd TFW at Spangdahlem in Germany which re-equipped with F-16s in 1988. The last two F-4E squadrons in the Pacific theatre were converted to F-16C/Ds in 1989. The TAC kept its F-4Es a bit longer, not relinquishing its machines until the early 1990s.

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The following Air Force units operated the F-4E:

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By the time of Desert Storm in January 1991, almost all of the F-4Es had been withdrawn from active duty USAF units, having been passed along to foreign customers or placed in storage. Nevertheless, a handful of Pave Tack capable F-4Es flew with the 7440th Composite Wing based at Incirlik AFB in Turkey, operating against targets in northwestern Iraq.

Two Air Force Reserve squadrons received F-4Es. These were the 457th TFS of the 201th TFW, which received F-4Es in 1987, and the 704th TFS of the 924th TFG, receiving F-4Es in 1989. Both of these squadrons traded in their F-4Es for F-16A/B fighters in 1991.

 F-4Es began to reach the Air National Guard in 1985, the aircraft having been former USAF planes which had been removed from active service. The following ANG squadrons were equipped with F-4Es.
 

Service of the F-4E with the ANG was relatively brief, the type beginning to be supplanted by later equipment in 1990. The last F-4E left Guard service in 1991, when the 113th TFS of the Missouri ANG converted to F-16C/D fighters. This outfit was the last ANG squadron to operate F-4 fighters of any type, although a few RF-4C reconnaissance aircraft and F-4G SAM suppression aircraft remained flying with other ANG units.

394 F-4Es were built new for export customers (including 86 F-4Es for Israel which were funded by the United States under Foreign Military Sales contracts and given USAF serial numbers for contractual purposes). This made the F-4E the most widely exported version of the Phantom. The export F-4Es were "de-nuclearized"--that is, they were delivered without the capability of arming or delivering "special stores" (i.e., nuclear weapons). In addition, substantial numbers of ex-USAF F-4Es were transferred to foreign air forces following their withdrawal from front-line service.

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The Turk Hava Kuvvetleri of Turkey ordered 40 F-4Es from McDonnell in fiscal year 1973 as part of its commitment to NATO. 32 more were ordered in fiscal year 1977. All of these aircraft were assigned USAF serial numbers for contractual purposes, although they never actually flew in USAF markings. As "payment" for its support during Desert Storm, Turkey received 40 F-4Es drown from the 110th TFS, the 141st TFS, the 457th TFS, and the 35th Fighter Wing. Some were delivered equipped with Pave Spike. Turkey remains a major user of the Phantom.

 The Elliniki Polemiki Aeroporia (Royal Hellenic Air Force) of Greece ordered its first F-4Es in 1971. 46 of these were new builds ordered directly from McDonnell, but additional F-4Es were acquired from ex-USAF stocks. Like Turkey, Greece remains a major Phantom user.

The Republic of Korea Air Force ordered 37 F-4Es from McDonnell, receiving the first examples in 1978. The last of these, 78-0744, was the the 5068th and last Phantom to be built in the USA. The US offered 24 surplus F-4Es in 1988 and 30 in 1989, but probably only the latter batch was actually delivered. Some Korean F-4Es are equipped to carry the AN/AVQ-26 Pave Tack laser designator pod. The ROK Air Force's Phantoms could be in action once again if the Korean situation heats up.

The Shah of Iran had ambitious plans of making his country the dominant military power in the Persian Gulf region. In pursuit of this aim, his government ordered 208 F-4Es from McDonnell. A total of 177 F-4Es were delivered to the Imperial Iranian Air Force before the Shah fled and the Islamic fundamentalist revolution took over the country. The new Islamic Republic of Iran immediately began to assume an anti-Western stance, and the US government placed an embargo on further arms deliveries to Iran on February 28, 1979, and the remaining 31 F-4Es on the contract were never delivered. The embargo caused a severe spare parts and maintenance problem, and when Iraq attacked Iran in September of 1980, only 40 percent of the Iranian Phantom fleet was operational. Losses during the first 9 months of the war were estimated to be 60 Phantoms, with many more being out of action due to cannibalization. Exactly how many F-4Es remain flying in Iran is uncertain.

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Israel had always been interested in acquiring the Phantom for the IDF/AF, but its early overtures had always been rebuffed. However, an embargo imposed by France against arms deliveries to Israel and the increasing flow of Soviet-block arms to Israel's Arab neighbors led US authorities to change their minds. The sale of F-4Es to Israel was first approved in principle by President Lyndon Johnson on January 7, 1968. This approval led to much controversy, and proposed Phantom deliveries to Israel played a role in the political campaigns that took place in the USA during the spring and summer of 1968. In fact, Robert Kennedy's statement of support for the Phantom delivery to Israel may have played a role in his assassination. The IDF/AF finally received its first Phantoms in September of 1969. The Israeli Phantoms were almost immediately to see action, and played a major role in the "War of Attrition" with Egypt that took place between 1969 and 1971. The Phantom played a key role in the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and losses to Egyptian and Syrian ground-based SAMs were quite heavy. The heavy rate of Phantom losses led to an emergency transfer in October of 1973 of between 36 and 40 USAF F-4Es to Israel in Operation Nickel Grass. Many of these planes were combat veterans from Vietnam and they were immediately sent to the front. A further 48 Phantoms were delivered to Israel between 1974 and 1976.

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 Israel received a total of approximately 220 F-4E Phantoms (the exact number is uncertain) between 1969 and 1976. Israeli F-4Es have been subjected to numerous field modifications to improve their operational capability. Among these were the fitting of a non-retractable refuelling probe, provision for carrying the Shafrir and Python air-to-air missiles and the Gabriel air-to-surface missile, the replacement of the 20-mm M61A1 cannon by a pair of 30-mm DEFA cannon, and the installation of a FLIR sensor.

A total of 116 air-to-air combat victories have been claimed by Israeli F-4Es in various conflicts, ranging from the 1969 War of Attrition to the 1982 incursion into Lebanon. There have been at least 55 combat losses that the IDF/AF has admitted to, in addition to normal peacetime attrition. By the time of the 1982 Lebanon incursion, the F-4E had been largely supplanted in the fighter role by F-15s and F-16s, and had been relegated to attack. However, some 120 Israeli Phantoms are still in service.

Following the Camp David agreement between Egypt and Israel, Egypt has received some 36 ex-USAF F-4Es. Many Egyptian pilots who had flown MiG-21s transitioned to their erstwhile opponent. The Egyptian pilots had a difficult time adapting to the Phantom, and Egypt had for a while seriously considered disposing of its Phantoms and selling them to Turkey. In the end, Egypt decided to keep its Phantoms.

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The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) operated 24 F-4Es which were delivered as temporary substitutes for the General Dynamics F-111C, which had been ordered by Australia but had been delayed by a series of technical problems. The first examples arrived in Australia in September of 1970, and the last Australian F-4E was returned to the USA in June 1973, at which time deliveries of F-111Cs to the RAAF began to get under way.

Following the completion of its test program, the first YF-4E (62-12200) was selected for use as a fly-by-wire control system testbed. Known as the Precision Aircraft Control Technology (PACT) demonstrator, it made its first flight on April 29, 1972. It made its first all-FBW flight on January 22, 1973. It was later rebuilt for Control Configured Vehicle (CCV) research with large canard tailplanes mounted on the upper edges of the air intakes. It made its first flight in the new configuration on April 29, 1974. Lead ballast was added to the rear fuselage to move the center of gravity aft and to destabilize the aircraft in pitch. On December 5, 1978, it was donated to the USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, where it is now on display.

Serials of the F-4E Phantom:

66-0284/0297 		McDonnell F-4E-31-MC Phantom
66-0298/0338 		McDonnell F-4E-32-MC Phantom
66-0339/0382 		McDonnell F-4E-33-MC Phantom
67-0208/0219		McDonnell F-4E-33-MC Phantom
67-0220/0282		McDonnell F-4E-34-MC Phantom
67-0283/0341		McDonnell F-4E-35-MC Phantom
67-0342/0398		McDonnell F-4E-36-MC Phantom
68-0303/0365		McDonnell F-4E-37-MC Phantom
68-0366/0395		McDonnell F-4E-38-MC Phantom
68-0396/0399		McDonnell F-4E-38-MC Phantom  (for Israel AF)
68-0400/0409		McDonnell F-4E-38-MC Phantom
68-0410/0413		McDonnell F-4E-39-MC Phantom
68-0414/0417		McDonnell F-4E-39-MC Phantom  (for Israel AF)
68-0418/0433		McDonnell F-4E-39-MC Phantom
68-0434/0437		McDonnell F-4E-39-MC Phantom  (for Israel AF)
68-0438/0451		McDonnell F-4E-39-MC Phantom
68-0452/0453		McDonnell F-4E-40-MC Phantom
68-0454/0457		McDonnell F-4E-40-MC Phantom  (for Israel AF)
68-0458/0468		McDonnell F-4E-40-MC Phantom
68-0469/0472		McDonnell F-4E-40-MC Phantom  (for Israel AF)
68-0473/0483		McDonnell F-4E-40-MC Phantom
68-0484/0487		McDonnell F-4E-40-MC Phantom  (for Israel AF)
68-0488/0494		McDonnell F-4E-40-MC Phantom
68-0495/0498		McDonnell F-4E-41-MC Phantom
68-0499/0502		McDonnell F-4E-41-MC Phantom  (for Israel AF)
68-0503/0518		McDonnell F-4E-41-MC Phantom
68-0519/0525		McDonnell F-4E-41-MC Phantom  (for Israel AF)
68-0526/0538		McDonnell F-4E-41-MC Phantom
68-0539/0547		McDonnell F-4E-41-MC Phantom  (for Israel AF)
69-0236/0303		McDonnell F-4E-42-MC Phantom
69-0304/0307		McDonnell F-4E-43-MC Phantom
69-7201/7260		McDonnell F-4E-43-MC Phantom
69-7261/7273		McDonnell F-4E-44-MC Phantom
69-7286/7303		McDonnell F-4E-44-MC Phantom
69-7546/7578		McDonnell F-4E-44-MC Phantom
69-7579/7589		McDonnell F-4E-45-MC Phantom
69-7590/7595		McDonnell F-4E-45-MC Phantom  (for Israel AF)
69-7711/7726		McDonnell F-4E-46-MC Phantom
69-7727/7742		McDonnell F-4E-47-MC Phantom  (for Iranian AF)
71-0224/0247		McDonnell F-4E-48-MC Phantom
71-1070/1093		McDonnell F-4E-49-MC Phantom
71-1094/1101		McDonnell F-4E-51-MC Phantom   (for Iranian AF)
71-1102/1115		McDonnell F-4E-52-MC Phantom   (for Iranian AF)
71-1116/1129		McDonnell F-4E-53-MC Phantom   (for Iranian AF)
71-1130/1142		McDonnell F-4E-54-MC Phantom   (for Iranian AF)
71-1143/1152		McDonnell F-4E-55-MC Phantom   (for Iranian AF)
71-1153/1166		McDonnell F-4E-56-MC Phantom   (for Iranian AF)
71-1391/1402		McDonnell F-4E-50-MC Phantom
71-1779/1786		McDonnell F-4E-51-MC Phantom   (for Israel AF)
71-1787/1793		McDonnell F-4E-52-MC Phantom   (for Israel AF)
71-1794/1796		McDonnell F-4E-53-MC Phantom   (for Israel AF)
72-0121/0138		McDonnell F-4E-50-MC Phantom
72-0139/0144		McDonnell F-4E-51-MC Phantom
72-0157/0159		McDonnell F-4E-51-MC Phantom
72-0160/0165		McDonnell F-4E-52-MC Phantom
72-0166/0168		McDonnell F-4E-53-MC Phantom
72-1407			McDonnell F-4E-53-MC Phantom
72-1476/1489		McDonnell F-4E-54-MC Phantom
72-1490/1497		McDonnell F-4E-55-MC Phantom
72-1498/1499		McDonnell F-4E-56-MC Phantom
72-1500/1507		McDonnell F-4E-54-MC Phantom   (for Greek AF)
72-1508/1523		McDonnell F-4E-55-MC Phantom   (for Greek AF)
72-1524/1535		McDonnell F-4E-56-MC Phantom   (for Greek AF)
73-1016/1027		McDonnell F-4E-56-MC Phantom   (for Turkish AF)
73-1028/1042		McDonnell F-4E-57-MC Phantom   (for Turkish AF)
73-1043/1055		McDonnell F-4E-58-MC Phantom   (for Turkish AF)
73-1157/1164		McDonnell F-4E-57-MC Phantom
73-1165/1184		McDonnell F-4E-58-MC Phantom
73-1185/1204		McDonnell F-4E-59-MC Phantom
73-1519/1534		McDonnell F-4E-57-MC Phantom   (for Iranian AF)
73-1535/1549		McDonnell F-4E-58-MC Phantom   (for Iranian AF)
73-1550/1554		McDonnell F-4E-59-MC Phantom   (for Iranian AF)
74-0643/0666		McDonnell F-4E-60-MC Phantom
74-1014/1015		McDonnell F-4E-60-MC Phantom   (for Israel AF)
74-1016/1021		McDonnell F-4E-61-MC Phantom   (for Israel AF)
74-1022/1037		McDonnell F-4E-62-MC Phantom   (for Israel AF)
74-1038/1049		McDonnell F-4E-60-MC Phantom
74-1050/1061		McDonnell F-4E-61-MC Phantom
74-1618/1619		McDonnell F-4E-60-MC Phantom   (for Greek AF)
74-1620/1637		McDonnell F-4E-61-MC Phantom
74-1638/1653		McDonnell F-4E-62-MC Phantom
75-0222/0257		McDonnell F-4E-63-MC Phantom	(for Iranian AF)
75-0628/0637		McDonnell F-4E-63-MC Phantom	(USAF/Luftwaffe)
76-0493/0511		McDonnell F-4E-64-MC Phantom 	(for ROK AF)
77-0277/0300		McDonnell F-4E-65-MC Phantom	(for Turkish AF)
77-0301/0308		McDonnell F-4E-66-MC Phantom	(for Turkish AF)
77-1743/1750		McDonnell F-4E-65-MC Phantom	(for Greek AF)
77-1751/1760		McDonnell F-4E-66-MC Phantom	(for Greek AF)
78-0727/0744		McDonnell F-4E-67-MC Phantom   	(for ROK AF)
 

Specification of the F-4E Phantom:

Click on Picture to enlarge

Engines: Two General Electric J79-GE-17 turbojets, 11,870 lb.s.t dry, 17,900 lb.s.t. with afterburner. Performance: Maximum speed 1430 mph at 36,000 feet (Mach 2.21), 914 mph at sea level (Mach 1.19). Cruising speed 585 mph. Landing speed 158 mph. Initial climb rate 61,400 feet per minute. Service ceiling 62,250 feet. Combat ceiling 59,600 feet. Combat range 595 miles, maximum range 1885 miles with maximum external fuel. Weights: 29,535 pounds empty, 40,562 pounds gross, 38,019 pounds combat weight, 61,651 pounds maximum takeoff weight. Dimensions: Wingspan 38 feet 5 inches, wing area 530 square feet, length 63 feet 0 inches, height 16 feet 6 inches. Fuel: Maximum internal fuel in the fuselage tanks was 1364 US gallons (up to block 40) or 1225 US gallons (block 41 and beyond). An additional 630 gallons of fuel could be carried in internal tanks inside the wings. Maximum external fuel load was 600 US gallons in a centerline tank that could be carried underneath the fuselage plus 370 US gallons in each of two tanks that could be carried underneath the outer underwing pylons, bringing total fuel load to 3334 US gallons (up to block 40) or 3195 US gallons (block 41 and beyond). Armament: Armament consisted of a single 20-mm M61A1 cannon with 639 rounds in an undernose gondola, plus four AIM-7 Sparrow semi-active radar homing air-to-air missiles in semi-recessed slots in the fuselage belly and two to four AIM-9 Sidewinder infra-red homing air-to-air missiles carried under the wings on the inboard pylons. A total offensive load of up to 16,000 pounds could be carried on the centerline and four under wing hardpoints.

Sources:

  1. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920: Volume II, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1990.
     
  2. McDonnell F-4 Phantom: Spirit in the Skies. Airtime Publishing, 1992.
     
  3. Modern Air Combat, Bill Gunston and Mike Spick, Crescent, 1983.
     
  4. The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion, 1987.
     
  5. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian, 1989.
     
  6. The Fury of Desert Storm--The Air Campaign, Bret Kinzey, McGraw- Hill, 1991.
     
  7. Post-World War II Fighters: 1945-1973, Marcelle Size Knaac, Office of Air Force History, 1986.
     
  8. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft Armament, Bill Gunston, Orion, 1988.
     
  9. The World's Great Attack Aircraft, Gallery, 1988.
     
  10. E-mail from Scott Wilson on APU and APX-80 IFF interrogator.
     
  11. E-mail from Jeff Hass on 347th TFW being equipped with F-4Es.
     
  12. E-mail from Mark Williams on 57th FIS at Keflavik.
     
  13. E-mail from Kalani O'Sullivan on F-4E operations by 3rd TFW and 366th TFW.
 

Courtesy of  Joseph F. Baugher

 

 

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