McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II


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McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II

For a quarter-century, the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II has risen from land and sea to take command of the air, to carry out the strike mission, to fight MiGs, and to join the Thunderbolt, Mustang and Sabre among the immortals of American fighter aviation. Its bent wings, drooped tail and twin-engine configuration a trademark, the Phantom was the first aircraft which could detect, intercept and destroy any target within its radar range without assistance from surface-based radar. Built as an interceptor, it became a MiG killer, but it also excelled at ground attack, 'fast FAC', reconnaissance, and other duties.

The F-4A (US Navy F4H-1F) was a developmental variant, the first making its maiden flight at St Louis on 27 May 1958. It was followed by the US Navy's operational F-4B (F4H-1), powered by two 7711kg afterburning thrust General Electric J79-GE-8 engines. The F-4B model attained an altitude record of 30040m on 6 December 1959, a speed record of 2585km/h on 22 November 1961, and a low-altitude speed record of 1452km/h on 20 August 1962, the last-named not being beaten for 16 years!

The EF-4B designation went to one airframe used for ECM training, and two modified, development airframes bore the NF-4B designation. The QF-4B is a drone conversion. The RF-4B reconnaissance derivative served only with the US Marine Corps.

The F-4C (F-110A) was the US Air Force's first Phantom, the first example being flown on 27 May 1963. The F-4C became operational with the 12th and 15th Tactical Fighter Wings at MacDill AFB, Florida, in January 1964. Some 583 were built, 40 being transferred to Spain. The service-test YRF-4C (YRF-110A) led to the RF-4C (RF-110A), 499 of which were constructed for the photo-reconnaissance role. The F-4D Phantom fighter-bomber introduced a capability to deliver precision-guided munitions (PGM), or 'smart' bombs. Some 825 were built, including 32 delivered new to Iran and 36 transferred to South Korea.

Once in action in Vietnam in 1965, the Phantom seemed to need a gun to augment its missile armament in close-quarter battles with MiGs. The SUU-16/A 20mm external gun pod was an interim measure. The F-4E, first flown on 7 August 1965, introduced more powerful J79-GE-17 engines but its principal change was the internally-mounted M61A1 20mm cannon. Although superior pilot training would later prove more important than the cannon in establishing a 2.5-to-1 kill advantage over North Vietnamese MiG-17, MiG-19 and MiG-21 fighters, the F-4E became the definitive Phantom, and 1,397 rolled off the line. Examples were supplied to Australia (on loan), Greece, Iran, Israel, Turkey, South Korea and West Germany; and 140 F-4EJs were licence-built by Mitsubishi in Japan. The RF-4E was an export reconnaissance derivative, supplied to Greece, Iran, Israel, Japan and West Germany.

By the mid-1960s, the Phantom was just about the best-known fighter in the world. On 2 January 1967 in Operation 'Bolo', F-4Cs of the 8th TFW under Colonel Robin Olds shot down seven North Vietnamese MiGs. Increasingly, F-4Ds took over from the Republic F-105 the job of bringing ordnance to bear on Vietnamese ground targets. Visitors to St Louis, where McDonnell took over Douglas in 1967, wanted not merely to see the heavy, complex fighter put together by Herman Barkey's design team, but to buy it.

The F-4F was a specialised air superiority version for the West German Luftwaffe, and 175 were delivered. The F-4G designation had been used initially for 12 aircraft taken from the US Navy F-4B production line. They had the two-way ASW-21 data-link system for automated carrier landings, and all later reverted to F-4B standard. In the 1970s, the F-4G appellation was used again for the US Air Force's 'Advanced Wild Weasel' electronic warfare aircraft, 116 of which were converted from F-4E standard. Originally seen as a counter to enemy SAM missile sites and associated radars, the F-4G now carries out a wide portfolio of electronic missions. Aircraft are stationed as far afield as the 3rd TFW Clark Field, Philippines, and 52nd TFW, Spangdahlem AB, West Germany.

The F-4J was an improved production fighter for the US Navy with 8119kg afterburning thrust J79-GE-10 engines, enlarged wing and improved avionics. The F-4K was developed for the UK's Royal Navy and the F-4M for the Royal Air Force, though both are now operated by the latter service which, with expanded commitments following the 1982 Falklands war, has also inherited 15 ex-US Navy F-4Js. The F-4N is an upgraded 'rebuild' of the F-4B, and has in turn been converted to the QF-4N drone. The F-4S is an upgraded F-4J with wing manoeuvre slats and was the final Phantom variant to serve aboard an aircraft carrier, with VF-151 and -161 aboard the USS Midway.

Phantoms serve widely with the Reserve and Air National Guard and are likely to remain in front-line service with some air forces into the 21st century.

F4H-1 Phantom (1962)

 ENGINE2 x GE J-79-GE-17, 52.8kN
  Take-off weight20282 kg44714 lb
  Wingspan11.7 m38 ft 5 in
  Length19.4 m64 ft 8 in
  Height5.0 m16 ft 5 in
  Wing area49.2 m2529.58 sq ft
  Max. speed2300 km/h1429 mph
  Ceiling18420 m60450 ft
  Range w/max payload700 km435 miles
 ARMAMENT1 x 20mm cannon, missiles

McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom IIA three-view drawing (1648 x 1190)

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60 61-80 81-100 101-120 121-140 141-160 161-180 181-200 201-220
Warren D. Serkin, e-mail, 18.07.2021 07:02

Was airborne radio tech (301X0) with the 4453rd AEMS at Davis Monthan AFB from 1966-1969. Was fortunate enough to get a couple of backseat rides in the F4C and it was a lot more fun to fly in than it was to work on.


Len Paulsen, e-mail, 18.02.2017 06:35

Acted as Aircraft Maintenance Officer for RF-4B USMC shipboard detachment. Flew 900 hours. T /O max weight was 54,800#.


Tony DeArco, e-mail, 23.11.2016 18:36

What an Honor to be a part of the incredible 4th TFW, 336 FS Rocketeers, SJAFB, NC..we had 4 squadrons and I was the DCC on the F-4E acft. 73-1186 from 1984-1989 than sadly my acft was shipped to Turkey and we were the 1st USAF Sqdn. to receive the spankin new F-15E Strike Eagle! So many awesome memories of my Phantom...Red Flag, Gunsmoke,Long Rifle,we took the entire Sqdn to Reforger at Spangdahlem AG, Ga. in 1984 and numerous other TDY's...what a workhorse, I must say my acft was so dependable I won many accolades and competitions with my Phantom Phorever!!


George Haloulakos, e-mail, 10.06.2016 02:33

The F-4 Phantom was a great military asset in both financial and strategic terms: High production volume, versatile air frame and proven performance record in combat. The enormous cash flow from the F-4 Phantom program enabled McDonnell to buy financially troubled Douglas Aircraft in the mid-1960s. The F-4 Phantom had the remarkable distinction of being in both the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds.


Jim Rosinski, e-mail, 10.04.2016 04:07

I crewed E models at Clarke AB in 1976 and 1977. Then went to Shaw AFB until 1980 and crewed RF's. My Aircraft at Shaw set a record during a sortie surge with the most OR flights. That feat got me a ride in the back seat,,when asked what I wanted to do when in flight, I replied a FCF take-off. Went up slick wing, went over the poinsett gunnery range, shot out and went low level over the ocean, barrel rolls, loops, came into Shaw at a high approach and then a low approach and put her on the deck.That a ride I will never forget, and I thought a Hemi was fast!!!


dave (rudy) kensrud, e-mail, 25.03.2016 16:19

Lowery 1972. WCS tech. F4C /D&E. Then to Holloman, Bitburg, Kunsan, Zaragosa, then to McDill & Homestead. Love that aircraft. Sorry to hear how it ended up as a drone. The Collings Foundation still flies one and gives rear seat rides for a fee, though. Met a lot of great friends in the service. had a great time. Once again, best fighter ever. Good radar package.


Peter Stillson, e-mail, 22.02.2016 19:56

Worked as an Autopilot tech on Rf-4 Tan Son Nhut AB summer 67-68. Best plane in its class at that time!


Robert F Duensing, e-mail, 25.01.2016 19:09

Looking for info on Navy Lt James Allyn Duensing stationed USS Ranger CVN61 attached to VF-121 12 /1971 to 1 /30 /1973 (date of his death)


Alastair Murray, e-mail, 14.06.2015 05:47

Beyond belief that anyone could call this beautiful aircraft "ugly". It is the most beautiful aircraft ever built. Got to sit in one in Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia many years ago, was amazed at just how big it was! Have built many models of this incredible airframe, would love to own and fly one someday, but that is sadly just a pipe dream! Served Australia well - way better than the F1-11.....


HARRY, e-mail, 09.06.2015 00:40

I thought Iwas one of last to work in these at Edwards. We supported the Nellis F4-G when they left George. I retired at George then retired at Edwards and the last J79 job ws a German AF BLC fit some time in 99. Glad your keeping the BEAST alive. THANKS


Bob Dress, e-mail, 29.05.2015 01:24

What a great aircraft. Worked as an AO 1973 -1977 attached to VF51.


saeeid, e-mail, 25.05.2015 19:07

i need checklist for eng run up f4e j79-17b


TORBJÍRN KAMPE, e-mail, 29.04.2015 18:19

This is a real hard man in the air. Not enough to skjuer me down in vetnam the shooting down migplan Syrian model MIG-25 Foxbat,
And lives a day.

sant loies slugger,


Frank Cleary, e-mail, 11.04.2015 00:34

I had the chance to be in the back seat during two flights out of Korat RTAFB with the 555 Sq during March 1970 as a COMDOC photographer. I am sure the first pilot will remember me as he asked me to slow down my breathing and watch the yellow eye. First time in a high performance jet. Never will forget.


Bob Rundall, e-mail, 01.04.2015 21:15

I was privileged to fly in the back seat of the RF-4C out of Bergstrom AFB with the 91st TRS. I was an Arial Reconnaissance Liaison Officer (ARLO), detached from the First Mil. Intel. Battalion at Fort Bragg. I flew with some great pilots from 1975-1978 and helped interface recce requirements between the Army and Air Force. I'll never forget what a great experience it was to fly training missions with those talented guys. The RF-4C may have had some design flaws, but it was a great plane. And the best part? I even got some stick time.


John Siordia, e-mail, 24.03.2015 23:35

I was a crew chief on F4, F15, F16s. Best bang for the buck the air force ever had. Ive seen that monster at its best and worst, but she will never leave my heart as the one and only. Recently saw my first jet at Nellis Aviation Nation and man what a rush of memories. Phantoms forever Baby!!!


Merritt Lawless, e-mail, 19.03.2015 06:46

I would like to share a unique close up experience with an F-4. While working at NAESU Headquarters in Phila in the mid 60's, I received a phone call from the F-4 Class Desk at NAVAIR requesting that I take my newly assigned ASN-70 Test Set to Oceana and assist a Squadron preparing to deploy to Vietnam. I arrived at the Squadron area the following morning at 0700 and was met by an AD-2. I assumed I would be assisting with a static test of the ASN-70 Approach Power Compensator in the Hanger or on the flight
line. Instead we got in his pick-up and drove to a remote engine run up area near the waters edge. There was a s


Terry Jackson, e-mail, 14.03.2015 08:18

I was flying with Hawker Siddeley as as "back seat" flight test engineer from 1960 to 1970. During that period I was involved in the joint company project with Mac' D's on the Phantom F4K and M variants. This was the re-engined version with Rolls Royce Spey bypass engines and Ferranti avionics. Due to changes to fuselage and intake geometry increasing the profile drag, it was not a Mach2 machine. The companys chief test pilot(Derek Whitehead)and myself spent 3 months at St Louis and Edwards on engine evaluation and systems tests.The first F4K was delivered to Royal Navy Air station where Derek and I picked it up and ferried to our test airfield at Holme-Upon-Spalding-Moor(great name) in East Yorkshire.


WD Gardner, e-mail, 20.02.2015 15:39

Just needed to my add last name.


WD, e-mail, 20.02.2015 15:33

Phantom phixer Taegu AB Korea 6497 CAMS, 1980-83,F4-D then
F4-e's, 15 AMU Osan RF-4C 1988-89 & moved them to Taegu 1989. Instrument sytems until I became all sytems qual and then made line super. F4-D ride in 1981. Best ride ever. Phantoms Phorever. Anybody from our time still there? Retired '94.


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