F-4 Phantom II
Overview
 
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engined, all-weather, long-range supersonic
Supersonic
Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound . For objects traveling in dry air of a temperature of 20 °C this speed is approximately 343 m/s, 1,125 ft/s, 768 mph or 1,235 km/h. Speeds greater than five times the speed of sound are often...

 jet interceptor fighter/fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 by McDonnell Aircraft
McDonnell Aircraft
The McDonnell Aircraft Corporation was an American aerospace manufacturer based in St. Louis, Missouri. The company was founded on July 16, 1939 by James Smith McDonnell, and was best known for its military fighters, including the F-4 Phantom II, and manned spacecraft including the Mercury capsule...

. It first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable, it was also adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 and the U.S. Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

, and by the mid-1960s had become a major part of their respective air wings.

The Phantom is a large fighter with a top speed of over Mach
Mach number
Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

 2.2.
Encyclopedia
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engined, all-weather, long-range supersonic
Supersonic
Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound . For objects traveling in dry air of a temperature of 20 °C this speed is approximately 343 m/s, 1,125 ft/s, 768 mph or 1,235 km/h. Speeds greater than five times the speed of sound are often...

 jet interceptor fighter/fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 by McDonnell Aircraft
McDonnell Aircraft
The McDonnell Aircraft Corporation was an American aerospace manufacturer based in St. Louis, Missouri. The company was founded on July 16, 1939 by James Smith McDonnell, and was best known for its military fighters, including the F-4 Phantom II, and manned spacecraft including the Mercury capsule...

. It first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable, it was also adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 and the U.S. Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

, and by the mid-1960s had become a major part of their respective air wings.

The Phantom is a large fighter with a top speed of over Mach
Mach number
Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

 2.2. It can carry over 18,000 pounds (8,400 kg) of weapons on nine external hardpoint
Hardpoint
A hardpoint, or weapon station, is any part of an airframe designed to carry an external load. This includes a point on the wing or fuselage of military aircraft where external ordnance, countermeasures, gun pods, targeting pods or drop tanks can be mounted.-Rail launchers:Large missiles and...

s, including air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs. The F-4, like other interceptors of its time, was designed without an internal cannon, but later models incorporated a M61 Vulcan
M61 Vulcan
The M61 Vulcan is a hydraulically or pneumatically driven, six-barreled, air-cooled, electrically fired Gatling-style rotary cannon which fires 20 mm rounds at an extremely high rate. The M61 and its derivatives have been the principal cannon armament of United States military fixed-wing aircraft...

 rotary cannon. Beginning in 1959, it set 15 world records, including an absolute speed record, and an absolute altitude record.

The F-4 was used extensively during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, serving as the principal air superiority fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, as well as being important in the ground-attack and reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 roles by the close of U.S. involvement in the war. The Phantom has the distinction of being the last U.S. fighter flown to attain ace
Flying ace
A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down several enemy aircraft during aerial combat. The actual number of aerial victories required to officially qualify as an "ace" has varied, but is usually considered to be five or more...

 status in the 20th century. During the Vietnam War, the USAF had one pilot and two weapon systems officers (WSOs), and the US Navy one pilot and one radar intercept officer (RIO), achieve five aerial kills against other enemy fighter aircraft and become aces in air-to-air combat. The F-4 continued to form a major part of U.S. military air power throughout the 1970s and 1980s, being gradually replaced by more modern aircraft such as the F-15 Eagle and F-16 in the U.S. Air Force; the Grumman F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet in the U.S. Navy; and the F/A-18 in the U.S. Marine Corps.

The F-4 Phantom II remained in use by the U.S. in the reconnaissance and Wild Weasel
Wild Weasel
A Wild Weasel is an aircraft specially equipped with radar seeking missiles, and tasked with destroying the radars and SAM installations of enemy air defence systems....

 (suppression of enemy air defenses
SEAD
Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses , also known as "Wild Weasel" and "Iron Hand" operations in the United States, are military actions to suppress enemy surface-based air defenses , primarily in the first hours of an attack.One fourth of American combat sorties in recent conflicts have been SEAD...

) roles in the 1991 Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

, finally leaving service in 1996. It was also the only aircraft used by both U.S. flight demonstration teams: the USAF Thunderbirds
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
The Thunderbirds are the air demonstration squadron of the U.S. Air Force , based at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada. The squadron tours the United States and much of the world, performing aerobatic formation and solo flying in specially marked USAF jet aircraft...

 (F-4E) and the US Navy Blue Angels
Blue Angels
The United States Navy's Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, popularly known as the Blue Angels, was formed in 1946 and is currently the oldest formal flying aerobatic team...

 (F-4J). The F-4 was also operated by the armed forces of 11 other nations. Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i Phantoms saw extensive combat in several Arab–Israeli conflict
Arab–Israeli conflict
The Arab–Israeli conflict refers to political tensions and open hostilities between the Arab peoples and the Jewish community of the Middle East. The modern Arab-Israeli conflict began with the rise of Zionism and Arab Nationalism towards the end of the nineteenth century, and intensified with the...

s, while Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 used its large fleet of Phantoms in the Iran–Iraq War. Phantoms remain in front line service with seven countries, and in use as an unmanned target
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

 in the U.S. Air Force. Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981, with a total of 5,195 built, making it the most numerous American supersonic military aircraft.

Origins

In 1952, McDonnell's Chief of Aerodynamics, Dave Lewis
David S. Lewis, Jr.
David Sloan Lewis, Jr. was an aeronautical engineer who led aerospace and defense giant General Dynamics for 14 years.- Early life :David Lewis was born in 1917, in North Augusta, South Carolina...

, was appointed by CEO Jim McDonnell to be the company’s Preliminary Design Manager. With no new aircraft competitions on the horizon, internal studies concluded the Navy had the greatest need for a new and different aircraft type: an attack fighter.

In 1953, McDonnell Aircraft began work on revising its F3H Demon naval fighter, seeking expanded capabilities and better performance. The company developed several projects including a variant powered by a Wright J67 engine, and variants powered by two Wright J65
Wright J65
|-See also:-External links:*...

 engines, or two General Electric J79 engines. The J79-powered version promised a top speed of Mach
Mach number
Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

 1.97. On 19 September 1953, McDonnell approached the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 with a proposal for the "Super Demon". Uniquely, the aircraft was to be modular—it could be fitted with one- or two-seat noses for different missions, with different nose cones to accommodate radar, photo cameras, four 20 mm (.79 in) cannon, or 56 FFAR unguided rockets in addition to the nine hardpoint
Hardpoint
A hardpoint, or weapon station, is any part of an airframe designed to carry an external load. This includes a point on the wing or fuselage of military aircraft where external ordnance, countermeasures, gun pods, targeting pods or drop tanks can be mounted.-Rail launchers:Large missiles and...

s under the wings and the fuselage. The Navy was sufficiently interested to order a full-scale mock-up of the F3H-G/H, but felt that the upcoming Grumman XF9F-9 and Vought XF8U-1 already satisfied the need for the supersonic fighter.

The McDonnell design was therefore reworked into an all-weather fighter-bomber with 11 external hardpoints for weapons and on 18 October 1954, the company received a letter of intent for two YAH-1 prototypes. On 26 May 1955, four Navy officers arrived at the McDonnell offices and, within an hour, presented the company with an entirely new set of requirements. Because the Navy already had the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk for ground attack and F-8 Crusader
F-8 Crusader
The Vought F-8 Crusader was a single-engine, supersonic, carrier-based air superiority jet aircraft built by Vought for the United States Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps, replacing the Vought F7U Cutlass...

 for dogfighting, the project now had to fulfill the need for an all-weather fleet defense interceptor. A second crewman was added to operate the powerful radar.

XF4H-1 prototype

The XF4H-1 was designed to carry four semi-recessed AAM-N-6 Sparrow III
AIM-7 Sparrow
The AIM-7 Sparrow is an American, medium-range semi-active radar homing air-to-air missile operated by the United States Air Force, United States Navy and United States Marine Corps, as well as various allied air forces and navies. Sparrow and its derivatives were the West's principal beyond visual...

 radar-guided missiles, and to be powered by two J79-GE-8 engines. Like in the McDonnell F-101 Voodoo, the engines sat low in the fuselage to maximize internal fuel capacity and ingested air through fixed geometry intake
Intake ramp
An intake ramp is a rectangular, plate-like device within the air intake of a jet engine, designed to generate a shock wave to aid the inlet compression process at supersonic speeds. The ramp sits at an acute angle to deflect the intake air from the longitudinal direction...

s. The thin-section wing had a leading edge sweep of 45° and was equipped with a boundary layer control system for better low-speed handling.
Wind tunnel
Wind tunnel
A wind tunnel is a research tool used in aerodynamic research to study the effects of air moving past solid objects.-Theory of operation:Wind tunnels were first proposed as a means of studying vehicles in free flight...

 testing had revealed lateral instability requiring the addition of 5° dihedral to the wings. To avoid redesigning the titanium central section of the aircraft, McDonnell engineers angled up only the outer portions of the wings by 12°, which averaged to the required 5° over the entire wingspan. The wings also received the distinctive "dogtooth" for improved control at high angles of attack
Angle of attack
Angle of attack is a term used in fluid dynamics to describe the angle between a reference line on a lifting body and the vector representing the relative motion between the lifting body and the fluid through which it is moving...

. The all-moving tailplane was given 23° of anhedral
Anhedral
* Anhedral angle, the downward angle from horizontal of the wings or tailplane of a fixed-wing aircraft* Anhedral , a rock texture without crystal faces or cross-section shape in thin section...

 to improve control at high angles of attack while still keeping the tailplane clear of the engine exhaust. In addition, air intakes were equipped with movable ramps to regulate airflow to the engines at supersonic speeds. All-weather intercept capability was achieved thanks to the AN/APQ-50 radar. To accommodate carrier operations, the landing gear was designed to withstand landings with a sink rate of 23 ft/s (7 m/s), while the nose strut could extend by some 20 in (50 cm) to increase angle of attack at takeoff.

On 25 July 1955, the Navy ordered two XF4H-1 test aircraft and five YF4H-1 pre-production fighters. The Phantom made its maiden flight on 27 May 1958 with Robert C. Little at the controls. A hydraulic problem precluded retraction of the landing gear but subsequent flights went more smoothly. Early testing resulted in redesign of the air intakes, including the distinctive addition of 12,500 holes to "bleed off" the slow-moving boundary layer air
Boundary layer
In physics and fluid mechanics, a boundary layer is that layer of fluid in the immediate vicinity of a bounding surface where effects of viscosity of the fluid are considered in detail. In the Earth's atmosphere, the planetary boundary layer is the air layer near the ground affected by diurnal...

 from the surface of each intake ramp. The aircraft soon squared off against the XF8U-3 Crusader III
XF8U-3 Crusader III
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Tillman, Barrett. MiG Master: Story of the F-8 Crusader . Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1990. ISBN 0-87021-585-X....

. Due to operator workload, the Navy wanted a two-seat aircraft and on 17 December 1958 the F4H was declared a winner. Delays with the J79-GE-8 engines meant that the first production aircraft were fitted with J79-GE-2 and −2A engines, each having 16,100 lbf (71.8 kN) of afterburning
AfterBurner
The AfterBurner is a lighting solution for the Game Boy Advance system that was created by Triton-Labs.Originally, portablemonopoly.net was a website created to petition Nintendo to put some kind of light in their Game Boy Advance system...

 thrust. In 1959, the Phantom began carrier suitability trials with the first complete launch-recovery cycle performed on 15 February 1960 from .

There were proposals to name the F4H "Satan
Satan
Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...

" and "Mithras", the Persian god of light. In the end, the aircraft was given the less controversial name "Phantom II", the first "Phantom" being another McDonnell jet fighter, the FH-1 Phantom. The Phantom II was briefly given the designation F-110A and the name "Spectre" by the USAF, but neither name was used.

Production

Early in production, the radar was upgraded to a larger AN/APQ-72, necessitating the bulbous nose, and the canopy was reworked to improve visibility and make the rear cockpit less claustrophobic. During its career the Phantom underwent many changes in the form of numerous variants developed.
The USAF received Phantoms as the result of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara
Robert McNamara
Robert Strange McNamara was an American business executive and the eighth Secretary of Defense, serving under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1968, during which time he played a large role in escalating the United States involvement in the Vietnam War...

's push to create a unified fighter for all branches of the military. After an F-4B won the "Operation Highspeed" fly-off against the Convair F-106 Delta Dart, the USAF borrowed two Naval F-4Bs, temporarily designating them F-110A "Spectre" in January 1962, and developed requirements for their own version. Unlike the Navy focus on interception, the USAF emphasized a fighter-bomber role. With McNamara's unification of designations on 18 September 1962, the Phantom became the F-4 with the Naval version designated F-4B and USAF F-4C. The first Air Force Phantom flew on 27 May 1963, exceeding Mach 2 on its maiden flight.

Phantom II production ended in the United States in 1979 after 5,195 had been built (5,057 by McDonnell Douglas and 138 in Japan by Mitsubishi). Of these, 2,874 went to the USAF, 1,264 to the Navy and Marine Corps, and the rest to foreign customers. The last U.S.-built F-4 went to Turkey, while the last F-4 ever built was completed in 1981 as an F-4EJ by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
, or MHI, is a Japanese company. It is one of the core companies of Mitsubishi Group.-History:In 1870 Yataro Iwasaki, the founder of Mitsubishi took a lease of Government-owned Nagasaki Shipyard. He named it Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works, and started the shipbuilding business on a full scale...

 in Japan. As of 2008, 631 Phantoms remained in active service worldwide, while the Phantom also remains in use as a target drone operated by the U.S. military.

World records

To show off their new fighter, the Navy led a series of record-breaking flights early in Phantom development: All in all, the Phantom set 16 world records. With the exception of Skyburner, all records were achieved in unmodified production aircraft. Five of the speed records remained unbeaten until the F-15 Eagle appeared in 1975.
  • Operation Top Flight: On 6 December 1959, the second XF4H-1 performed a zoom climb
    Zoom climb
    A zoom climb is a climb where the rate of climb is greater than the maximum for a sustained climb, as determined from the thrust of the aircraft's engines. During a zoom climb, the aircraft accelerates to a high air speed at an altitude at which it can operate in sustained level flight. The pilot...

     to a world record 98,557 ft (30,040 m). The previous record of 94,658 ft (28,852 m) was set by a Soviet Sukhoi T-43-1 prototype. Commander Lawrence E. Flint, Jr., USN accelerated his aircraft to Mach 2.5 at 47,000 ft (14,330 m) and climbed to 90,000 ft (27,430 m) at a 45° angle. He then shut down the engines and glided to the peak altitude. As the aircraft fell through 70,000 ft (21,300 m), Flint restarted the engines and resumed normal flight.
  • On 5 September 1960, an F4H-1 averaged 1,216.78 mph (1,958.16 km/h) over a 500 km (311 mi) closed-circuit course.
  • On 25 September 1960, an F4H-1 averaged 1,390.21 mph (2,237.26 km/h) over a 100 km (62.1 mi) closed-circuit course.
  • Operation LANA: To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Naval aviation (L is the Roman numeral for 50 and ANA stood for Anniversary of Naval Aviation) on 24 May 1961, Phantoms flew across the continental United States in under three hours and included several tanker refuelings. The fastest of the aircraft averaged 869.74 mph (1,400.28 km/h) and completed the trip in 2 hours 47 minutes, earning the pilot (and future NASA Astronaut), Lieutenant Richard Gordon
    Richard F. Gordon, Jr.
    Richard Francis Gordon, Jr., Captain, USN, Ret. is a retired NASA astronaut. He is one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon.-Military and flight experience:Gordon was born in Seattle, Washington...

    , USN and RIO, Lieutenant Bobbie Long, USN, the 1961 Bendix trophy
    Bendix trophy
    The Bendix Trophy is a U.S. aeronautical racing trophy. The transcontinental, point-to-point race, sponsored by industrialist Vincent Bendix founder of Bendix Corporation, began in 1931 as part of the National Air Races. Initial prize money for the winners was $15,000...

    .
  • Operation Sageburner: On 28 August 1961, a Phantom averaged 902.769 mph (1,452.826 km/h) over a 3 mi (4.82 km) course flying below 125 feet (38.1 m) at all times. Commander J.L. Felsman, USN was killed during the first attempt at this record on 18 May 1961 when his aircraft disintegrated in the air after pitch damper failure.
  • Operation Skyburner: On 22 December 1961, a modified Phantom with water injection
    Water injection (engines)
    In internal combustion engines, water injection, also known as anti-detonant injection, is spraying water into the cylinder or incoming fuel-air mixture to cool the combustion chambers of the engine, allowing for greater compression ratios and largely eliminating the problem of engine knocking...

     set an absolute world record speed of 1,606.342 mph (2,585.086 km/h).
  • On 5 December 1961, another Phantom set a sustained altitude record of 66443.8 feet (20,252.1 m).
  • Operation High Jump: A series of time-to-altitude records was set in early 1962: 34.523 seconds to 3000 metres (9,842.5 ft), 48.787 seconds to 6000 metres (19,685 ft), 61.629 seconds to 9000 metres (29,527.6 ft), 77.156 seconds to 12000 metres (39,370.1 ft), 114.548 seconds to 15000 metres (49,212.6 ft), 178.5 seconds to 20000 metres (65,616.8 ft), 230.44 seconds to 25000 metres (82,021 ft), and 371.43 seconds to 30000 metres (98,425.2 ft).

Overview

The F-4 Phantom is tandem-seat fighter-bomber designed as a carrier-based interceptor
Interceptor aircraft
An interceptor aircraft is a type of fighter aircraft designed specifically to prevent missions of enemy aircraft, particularly bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. Interceptors generally rely on high speed and powerful armament in order to complete their mission as quickly as possible and set up...

 to fill the U.S. Navy's fleet defense fighter role. Innovations in the F-4 included an advanced pulse-doppler radar
Pulse-doppler radar
Pulse-Doppler is a 4D radar system capable of detecting both target 3D location as well as measuring radial velocity . It uses the Doppler effect to avoid overloading computers and operators as well as to reduce power consumption...

 and extensive use of titanium
Titanium
Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It has a low density and is a strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant transition metal with a silver color....

 in its airframe.

Despite the imposing dimensions and a maximum takeoff weight of over 60,000 lb (27,000 kg), the F-4 had a top speed of Mach
Mach number
Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

 2.23 and an initial climb of over 41,000 ft/min (210 m/s). The F-4's nine external hardpoint
Hardpoint
A hardpoint, or weapon station, is any part of an airframe designed to carry an external load. This includes a point on the wing or fuselage of military aircraft where external ordnance, countermeasures, gun pods, targeting pods or drop tanks can be mounted.-Rail launchers:Large missiles and...

s have a capability of up to 18,650 pounds (8,480 kg) of weapons, including air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and unguided, guided, and nuclear bombs. Like other interceptors of its day, the F-4 was designed without an internal cannon.

The baseline performance of a Mach 2-class fighter with long range and a bomber-sized payload would be the template for the next generation of large and light/middle-weight fighters optimized for daylight air combat.

Flight characteristics

In air combat, the Phantom's greatest advantage was its thrust, which permitted a skilled pilot to engage and disengage from the fight at will. The massive aircraft, designed to fire radar-guided missiles from beyond visual range
Beyond Visual Range missile
A beyond-visual-range missile usually refers to an air-to-air missile that is capable of engaging at ranges beyond . This range has been achieved using dual pulse rocket motors or booster rocket motor and ramjet sustainer motor....

, lacked the agility of its Soviet opponents and was subject to adverse yaw
Adverse yaw
Adverse yaw is a yaw moment on an aircraft which results from an aileron deflection and a roll rate, such as when entering or exiting a turn. It is called "adverse" because it acts opposite to the yaw moment needed to execute the desired turn. Adverse yaw has three mechanisms, listed below in...

 during hard maneuvering. Although thus subject to irrecoverable spins during aileron rolls, pilots reported the aircraft to be very communicative and easy to fly on the edge of its performance envelope. In 1972, the F-4E model was upgraded with leading edge slats
Leading edge slats
Slats are aerodynamic surfaces on the leading edge of the wings of fixed-wing aircraft which, when deployed, allow the wing to operate at a higher angle of attack. A higher coefficient of lift is produced as a result of angle of attack and speed, so by deploying slats an aircraft can fly at slower...

 on the wing, greatly improving high angle of attack
Angle of attack
Angle of attack is a term used in fluid dynamics to describe the angle between a reference line on a lifting body and the vector representing the relative motion between the lifting body and the fluid through which it is moving...

 maneuverability at the expense of top speed.
The J79 engines produced noticeable amounts of black smoke, a severe disadvantage in that the enemy could spot the aircraft. This was solved on the F-4S fitted with the −10A engine variant which used a smoke-free combustor
Combustor
A combustor is a component or area of a gas turbine, ramjet, or scramjet engine where combustion takes place. It is also known as a burner, combustion chamber or flame holder. In a gas turbine engine, the combustor or combustion chamber is fed high pressure air by the compression system. The...

.

The F-4's biggest weakness, as it was initially designed, was its lack of an internal cannon. For a brief period, doctrine held that turning combat would be impossible at supersonic speeds and little effort was made to teach pilots air combat maneuvering. In reality, engagements quickly became subsonic. Furthermore, the relatively new heat-seeking and radar-guided missiles at the time were frequently reported as unreliable and pilots had to use multiple shots (also known as ripple-firing), just to hit one enemy fighter. To compound the problem, rules of engagement
Rules of engagement
Rules of Engagement refers to those responses that are permitted in the employment of military personnel during operations or in the course of their duties. These rules of engagement are determined by the legal framework within which these duties are being carried out...

 in Vietnam precluded long-range missile attacks in most instances, as visual identification was normally required. Many pilots found themselves on the tail of an enemy aircraft but too close to fire short-range Falcons or Sidewinders. Although in 1967 USAF F-4Cs began carrying SUU-16 or SUU-23 external gunpods containing a 20 mm (.79 in) M61 Vulcan
M61 Vulcan
The M61 Vulcan is a hydraulically or pneumatically driven, six-barreled, air-cooled, electrically fired Gatling-style rotary cannon which fires 20 mm rounds at an extremely high rate. The M61 and its derivatives have been the principal cannon armament of United States military fixed-wing aircraft...

 Gatling cannon, USAF cockpits were not equipped with lead-computing gunsights, virtually assuring a miss in a maneuvering fight. Some Marine Corps aircraft carried two pods for strafing. In addition to the loss of performance due to drag
Drag (physics)
In fluid dynamics, drag refers to forces which act on a solid object in the direction of the relative fluid flow velocity...

, combat showed the externally mounted cannon to be inaccurate unless frequently boresighted, yet far more cost-effective than missiles. The lack of a cannon was finally addressed by adding an internally mounted 20 mm (.79 in) M61 Vulcan on the F-4E.

Costs

F-4C RF-4C F-4D F-4E
Unit R&D
Research and development
The phrase research and development , according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, refers to "creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of...

 cost
61,200 (1965) by 1973
(Current) by 1973
22,700 (1965) by 1973
(Current) by 1973
Airframe 1,388,725 (1965)
(Current)
1,679,000 (1965)
(Current)
1,018,682 (1965)
(2008)
1,662,000 (1965)
(Current)
Engines 317,647 (1965)
(Current)
276,000 (1965)
(Current)
260,563 (1965)
(Current)
393,000 (1965)
(Current)
Electronics 52,287 (1965)
(Current)
293,000 (1965)
(Current)
262,101 (1965)
(Current)
299,000 (1965)
(Current)
Armament 139,706 (1965)
(Current)
73,000 (1965)
(Current)
133,430 (1965)
(Current)
111,000 (1965)
(Current)
Ordnance 6,817 (1965)
(Current)
8,000 (1965)
(Current)
Flyaway cost 1.9 million (1965)
million (Current)
2.3 million (1965)
million (Current)
1.7 million (1965)
million (Current)
2.4 million (1965)
million (Current)
Modification costs 116,289 (1965) by 1973
(Current) by 1973
55,217 (1965) by 1973
(2008) by 1973
233,458 (1965) by 1973
(Current) by 1973
7,995 (1965) by 1973
(Current) by 1973
Cost per flying hour 924 (1965)
(2008)
867 (1965)
(Current)
896 (1965)
(Current)
867 (1965)
(Current)
Maintenance cost per flying hour 545 (1965)
(Current)

Note: Original amounts were in 1965 United States dollars. The figures in these tables have been adjusted for inflation.

United States Navy

On 30 December 1960, the VF-121 "Pacemakers"
VF-121
VF-121 Fighter Squadron 121 of the US Navy and was disestablished on 30 September 1980. VF-121 was originally VF-781, a reserve squadron, established on 2 August 1950.On July 1, 1946, VF-121, The Pacemakers were stationed at NAS Alamitos, CA...

 at NAS Miramar became the first Phantom operator with its F4H-1Fs (F-4As). The VF-74 "Be-devilers"
VF-74
VF-74, Fighter Squadron 74, Be-Devilers was an aviation unit of the United States Navy in service from 1944 to 1994.-History:VF-74 was established on 16 April 1945 as VBF-20 flying the F4U-1 Corsair from NAS Wildwood in New Jersey. After six months they transitioned to the F6F Hellcat but soon...

 at NAS Oceana became the first deployable Phantom squadron when it received its F4H-1s (F-4Bs) on 8 July 1961. The squadron completed carrier qualifications in October 1961 and Phantom’s first full carrier deployment between August 1962 and March 1963 aboard . The second deployable U.S. Atlantic Fleet
United States Fleet Forces Command
The United States Fleet Forces Command is an Atlantic Ocean theater-level component command of the United States Navy that provides naval resources that are under the operational control of the United States Northern Command...

 squadron to receive F-4Bs was the VF-102 "Diamondbacks", who promptly took their new aircraft on the shakedown cruise
Shakedown (testing)
A shakedown is a period of testing or a trial journey undergone by a ship, aircraft or other craft and its crew before being declared operational. Statistically, a proportion of the components will fail after a relatively short period of use, and those that survive this period can be expected to...

 of . The first deployable U.S. Pacific Fleet
United States Pacific Fleet
The United States Pacific Fleet is a Pacific Ocean theater-level component command of the United States Navy that provides naval resources under the operational control of the United States Pacific Command. Its home port is at Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hawaii. It is commanded by Admiral Patrick M...

 squadron to receive the F-4B was the VF-114 "Aardvarks"
VF-114
Fighter Squadron 114 was a fighter squadron of the United States Navy that was active from 1945 through 1993. Nicknamed the "Aardvarks", it was based out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia. The squadron flew combat missions during the Korean War and Vietnam War...

, which participated in the September 1962 cruise aboard .

By the time of the Tonkin Gulf incident, 13 of 31 deployable Navy squadrons were armed with the type. F-4Bs from made the first Phantom combat sortie of the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 on 5 August 1964, flying bomber escort in Operation Pierce Arrow
Operation Pierce Arrow
Operation Pierce Arrow was a U.S. military operation during the Vietnam War.In response to the Gulf of Tonkin Incident when the USS Maddox of the United States Navy engaged North Vietnamese ships, sustaining light damage as it gathered electronic intelligence while in the international waters of...

. The first Phantom air-to-air victory of the war took place on 9 April 1965 when an F-4B from VF-96 "Fighting Falcons" piloted by Lieutenant (junior grade) Terence M. Murphy and his RIO, Ensign Ronald Fegan, shot down a Chinese MiG-17 "Fresco"
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 is a high-subsonic fighter aircraft produced in the USSR from 1952 and operated by numerous air forces in many variants. Most MiG-17 variants cannot carry air-to-air missiles, but shot down many aircraft with its cannons...

. The Phantom was then shot down, apparently by an AIM-7 Sparrow
AIM-7 Sparrow
The AIM-7 Sparrow is an American, medium-range semi-active radar homing air-to-air missile operated by the United States Air Force, United States Navy and United States Marine Corps, as well as various allied air forces and navies. Sparrow and its derivatives were the West's principal beyond visual...

 from one of its wingmen. There continues to be controversy over whether the Phantom was shot down by MiG guns or whether, as enemy reports later indicated, an AIM-7 Sparrow III from one of Murphy's and Fegan's wingmen. On 17 June 1965, an F-4B from VF-21 "Freelancers"
VF-21
Fighter Squadron 21 Freelancers was an aviation unit of the United States Navy originally established in 1944 as VF-81. It was disestablished in 1996.-History:...

 piloted by Commander Louis Page and Lieutenant John C. Smith shot down the first North Vietnamese MiG of the war.

On 10 May 1972, Lieutenant Randy "Duke" Cunningham
Duke Cunningham
Randall Harold Cunningham , usually known as Randy or Duke, is United States Navy veteran, convicted felon, and former Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from California's 50th Congressional District from 1991 to 2005.Cunningham resigned from the House on November 28,...

 and Lieutenant (junior grade) William P. Driscoll
William P. Driscoll
William "Willy Irish" Driscoll is a former United States Navy Flight Officer who received the Navy Cross during the Vietnam War for his role in an aerial dogfight with North Vietnamese MiGs...

 flying an F-4J, call sign
Call sign
In broadcasting and radio communications, a call sign is a unique designation for a transmitting station. In North America they are used as names for broadcasting stations...

 "Showtime 100", shot down three MiG-17s to become the first American flying ace
Flying ace
A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down several enemy aircraft during aerial combat. The actual number of aerial victories required to officially qualify as an "ace" has varied, but is usually considered to be five or more...

s of the war. Their fifth victory was believed at the time to be over a mysterious North Vietnamese ace, Colonel Nguyen Toon
Nguyen Toon
Nguyen Toon or "Colonel Toon" or "Tomb" was a mythical North Vietnamese fighter pilot and flying ace who allegedly shot down 13 American aircraft during the Vietnam War. According to legend, he was killed in action on May 10, 1972, by the U.S. Navy F-4 Phantom crew of pilot Lt...

, now considered mythical. On the return flight, the Phantom was damaged by an enemy surface-to-air missile
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

. To avoid being captured, Cunningham and Driscoll flew their burning aircraft using only the rudder and afterburner (the damage to the aircraft rendered conventional control nearly impossible), until they could eject over water.

During the war, U.S. Navy F-4 Phantom squadrons participated in 84 combat tours with F-4Bs, F-4Js, and F-4Ns. The Navy claimed 40 air-to-air victories at a cost of 73 Phantoms lost in combat (seven to enemy aircraft, 13 to SAMs
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

, and 53 to AAA
Anti-aircraft warfare
NATO defines air defence as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action." They include ground and air based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements and passive measures. It may be to protect naval, ground and air forces...

). An additional 54 Phantoms were lost in mishaps.

By 1983, the F-4Ns had been completely replaced by F-14 Tomcats, and by 1986 the last F-4Ss were exchanged for F/A-18 Hornets. On 25 March 1986, an F-4S belonging to the VF-151 "Vigilantes," became the last active duty U.S. Navy Phantom to launch from an aircraft carrier, in this case, the . On 18 October 1986, an F-4S from the VF-202 "Superheats"
VF-202
The Fighter Squadron VF-202 Superheats was an aviation unit of the United States Naval Reserve based at Naval Air Station Dallas, Texas . It was established in 1970 as part of Reserve Carrier Air Wing 20 and disestablished in 1994...

, a Naval Reserve fighter squadron, made the last-ever Phantom carrier landing while operating aboard . In 1987, the last of the Naval Reserve-operated F-4S aircraft were replaced by F-14As. The last Phantoms in service with the Navy were QF-4 target drones operated by the Naval Air Warfare Center
Pacific Missile Test Center
Pacific Missile Test Center is the former name of the current Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division. The name of the center was the Naval Air Missile Test Center prior to PMTC. It is located at Naval Base Ventura County/Naval Air Station Point Mugu in Ventura County, California...

s at NAS Point Mugu, California. These airframes were subsequently retired in 2004.

United States Marine Corps

The Marines received their first F-4Bs in June 1962, with the "Black Knights" of VMFA-314
VMFA-314
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 is a United States Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet squadron. The squadron, known as the "Black Knights", is based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California and falls under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 11 and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing...

 at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro
Marine Corps Air Station El Toro
Marine Corps Air Station El Toro was a United States Marine Corps Air Station located near Irvine, California.Before it was decommissioned in 1999, it was the home of Marine Corps aviation on the West Coast. Designated as a Master Jet Station, its four runways could handle the largest aircraft...

, California becoming the first operational squadron. In addition to attack variants, the Marines also operated several tactical reconnaissance RF-4Bs. Marine Phantoms from VMFA-531
VMFA-531
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 531 was a United States Marine Corps fighter squadron consisting of F/A-18 Hornets . Known as the "Grey Ghosts”, the squadron participated in action during World War II and the Vietnam War...

 arrived in Vietnam on 10 April 1965, flying close air support missions from land bases as well as from the aircraft carrier USS America. Marine F-4 pilots claimed three enemy MiGs (two while on exchange duty with the USAF) at the cost of 75 aircraft lost in combat, mostly to ground fire, and four in accidents. The F-4 continue to equip fighter-attack squadrons in both the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Reserve throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. In the early 1980s, these squadrons began to transition to the F/A-18 Hornet, starting with the same squadron that introduced the F-4 to the Marine Corps, VMFA-314 at MCAS El Toro, California. Concurrent with this transition, the Marine Corps RF-4B squadrons slowly disestablished in favor of pod-mounted systems on strike aircraft. On 18 January 1992, the last Marine Corps Phantom, an F-4S in the Marine Corps Reserve, was retired by the "Cowboys" of VMFA-112
VMFA-112
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 112 is a reserve United States Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet squadron. The squadron is based at NASJRB Fort Worth, Texas and falls under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 41 , 4th Marine Aircraft Wing...

, after which the squadron was re-equipped with F/A-18 Hornets.

United States Air Force




USAF F-4 Summary for Vietnam War action
AircraftWeapons/TacticsMiG-17MiG-19MiG-21Total
F-4CAIM-7 Sparrow401014
AIM-9 Sidewinder1201022
20 mm gun3014
Maneuvering tactics2002
F-4D AIM-4 Falcon4 015
AIM-7 Sparrow422026
AIM-9 Sidewinder0235
20 mm gun4.5026.5
Maneuvering tactics0022
F-4E AIM-7 Sparrow02810
AIM-9 Sidewinder0044
AIM-9+20 mm gun0011
20 mm gun0145
Maneuvering tactics0101
Total33.5866107.5


In USAF service the F-4 was initially designated the F-110 Spectre prior to the introduction of the 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system
1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system
The 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system is a unified designation system introduced by the United States Department of Defense on 18 September 1962 for all the U.S. military aircraft. Prior to this date, each armed service used their own nomenclature system...

. The USAF quickly embraced the design and became the largest Phantom user. The first Air Force Phantoms in Vietnam were F-4Cs from the 555th "Triple Nickel" Tactical Fighter Squadron
555th Fighter Squadron
The 555th Fighter Squadron is part of the 31st Operations Group at Aviano Air Base, Italy. It operates F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducting an air superiority mission.-Mission:...

, which arrived in December 1964. Unlike the Navy, which flew the Phantom with a Naval Aviator
Naval Aviator
A United States Naval Aviator is a qualified pilot in the United States Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard.-Naming Conventions:Most Naval Aviators are Unrestricted Line Officers; however, a small number of Limited Duty Officers and Chief Warrant Officers are also trained as Naval Aviators.Until 1981...

 (pilot) in the front seat and a Naval Flight Officer
Naval Flight Officer
A Naval Flight Officer is an aeronautically designated commissioned officer in the United States Navy or United States Marine Corps that specializes in airborne weapons and sensor systems. NFOs are not pilots per se, but they may perform many "co-pilot" functions, depending on the type of aircraft...

 as a radar intercept officer (RIO) in the back seat, the Air Force initially flew its Phantoms with a rated pilot in the back seat. This policy was later changed to using a navigator qualified as a weapon/targeting systems officer (later designated as weapon systems officer
Weapon systems officer
A Weapon Systems Officer is an air Flight Officer directly involved in all air operations and weapon systems of the fighter in the United States Navy. A Weapon Systems Officer ("WSO", pronounced "wizzo") is an air Flight Officer directly involved in all air operations and weapon systems of the...

 or WSO) in the rear seat. However, because they originally flew with pilots in the rear seat, all USAF Phantoms retained dual flight controls throughout their service life.

On 10 July 1965, F-4Cs of the 45th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 15th TFW, on temporary assignment in Ubon, Thailand, scored the USAF's first victories against North Vietnamese MiG-17s using AIM-9 Sidewinder
AIM-9 Sidewinder
The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a heat-seeking, short-range, air-to-air missile carried mostly by fighter aircraft and recently, certain gunship helicopters. The missile entered service with United States Air Force in the early 1950s, and variants and upgrades remain in active service with many air forces...

 air-to-air missiles. On 26 April 1966 an F-4C from the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron scored the first aerial victory by a U.S. aircrew over a North Vietnamese MiG-21 "Fishbed"
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. It was popularly nicknamed "balalaika", from the aircraft's planform-view resemblance to the Russian stringed musical instrument or ołówek by Polish pilots due to...

. On 24 July 1965, another Phantom from the 45th Tactical Fighter Squadron became the first American aircraft to be downed by an enemy SAM
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

, and on 5 October 1966 an 8th Tactical Fighter Wing F-4C became the first U.S. jet lost to an air-to-air missile
Air-to-air missile
An air-to-air missile is a missile fired from an aircraft for the purpose of destroying another aircraft. AAMs are typically powered by one or more rocket motors, usually solid fuelled but sometimes liquid fuelled...

, fired by a MiG-21.

Early aircraft suffered from leaks in wing fuel tanks that required re-sealing after each flight and 85 aircraft were found to have cracks in outer wing ribs and stringers. There were also problems with aileron
Aileron
Ailerons are hinged flight control surfaces attached to the trailing edge of the wing of a fixed-wing aircraft. The ailerons are used to control the aircraft in roll, which results in a change in heading due to the tilting of the lift vector...

 control cylinders, electrical connectors, and engine compartment fires. Reconnaissance RF-4Cs made their debut in Vietnam on 30 October 1965, flying the hazardous post-strike reconnaissance missions. The USAF Thunderbirds
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
The Thunderbirds are the air demonstration squadron of the U.S. Air Force , based at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada. The squadron tours the United States and much of the world, performing aerobatic formation and solo flying in specially marked USAF jet aircraft...

 used the F-4E from the 1969 season until 1974.
Although the F-4C was essentially identical to the Navy F-4B in flight performance and carried the AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, USAF-tailored F-4Ds initially arrived in June 1967 equipped with AIM-4 Falcon
AIM-4 Falcon
The Hughes AIM-4 Falcon was the first operational guided air-to-air missile of the United States Air Force.-Development:Development of a guided air-to-air missile began in 1946. Hughes Aircraft was awarded a contract for a subsonic missile under the project designation MX-798, which soon gave way...

s. However, the Falcon, like its predecessors, was designed to shoot down bombers flying straight and level. Its reliability proved no better than others, and its complex firing sequence and limited seeker-head cooling time made it virtually useless in combat against agile fighters. The F-4Ds reverted to using Sidewinders under the "Rivet Haste" program in early 1968, and by 1972 the AIM-7E-2 "Dogfight Sparrow" had become the preferred missile for USAF pilots. Like other Vietnam War Phantoms, the F-4Ds were urgently fitted with radar homing and warning (RHAW) antennae to detect the Soviet-built SA-2 Guideline SAMs.

From the initial deployment of the F-4C to Southeast Asia, USAF Phantoms performed both air superiority and ground attack roles, supporting not only ground troops in South Vietnam but also conducting bombing sorties in Laos and North Vietnam. As the F-105 force underwent severe attrition between 1965 and 1968, the bombing role of the F-4 proportionately increased until after November 1970 (when the last F-105D was withdrawn from combat) it became the primary USAF ordnance delivery system. In October 1972 the first squadron of EF-4C Wild Weasel
Wild Weasel
A Wild Weasel is an aircraft specially equipped with radar seeking missiles, and tasked with destroying the radars and SAM installations of enemy air defence systems....

 aircraft deployed to Thailand on temporary duty. The "E" prefix was later dropped and the aircraft was simply known as the F-4C Wild Weasel.

Sixteen squadrons of Phantoms were permanently deployed between 1965 and 1973, and 17 others deployed on temporary combat assignments. Peak numbers of combat F-4s occurred in 1972, when 353 were based in Thailand. A total of 445 Air Force Phantom fighter-bombers were lost, 370 in combat and 193 of those over North Vietnam (33 to MiGs, 30 to SAMs, and 307 to AAA).

The RF-4C was operated by four squadrons, and of the 83 losses, 72 were in combat including 38 over North Vietnam (seven to SAMs and 65 to AAA). By war's end the U.S. Air Force had lost a total of 528 F-4 and RF-4C Phantoms. When combined with U.S. Naval and Marine losses of 233 Phantoms, 761 F-4/RF-4 Phantoms were lost in the Vietnam War.

On 28 August 1972, Capt Steve Ritchie became the first USAF ace of the war. On 9 September 1972, WSO Capt Charles B. DeBellevue
Charles B. DeBellevue
Colonel Charles Barbin “Chuck” DeBellevue is a retired officer in the United States Air Force. In 1972, while flying during the Vietnam War, DeBellevue became the first Air Force Weapon Systems Officer to become a flying "Ace". He was credited with a total of six MiG kills, the most earned by any...

 became the highest-scoring American ace of the war with six victories. and WSO Capt Jeffrey Feinstein
Jeffrey Feinstein
Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey S. Feinstein was a career officer in the United States Air Force. In 1972 during the Vietnam War, while flying as a weapon systems officer aboard F-4 Phantom IIs, Feinstein downed five enemy aircraft, thereby becoming a flying ace, the last ace produced by the USAF.Born...

 became the last USAF ace of the war on 13 October 1972. Upon return to the United States, DeBellevue and Feinstein were assigned to pilot training (Feinstein was given a vision waiver) and requalified as USAF pilots in the F-4. USAF F-4C/D/E crews scored 107½ MiG kills in Southeast Asia (50 by Sparrow, 31 by Sidewinder, five by Falcon, 15.5 by gun, and six by other means).
On 31 January 1972, the 170th Tactical Fighter Squadron/183d Tactical Fighter Group of the Illinois Air National Guard
Illinois Air National Guard
The Illinois Air National Guard is the air force militia of the U.S. state of Illinois. It is, along with the Illinois Army National Guard, an element of the Illinois National Guard...

 became the first Air National Guard
Air National Guard
The Air National Guard , often referred to as the Air Guard, is the air force militia organized by each of the fifty U.S. states, the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the territories of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia of the United States. Established under Title 10 and...

 unit to transition to Phantoms when their F-84F Thunderstreak
F-84F Thunderstreak
The Republic F-84F Thunderstreak was an American-built swept-wing turbojet fighter-bomber. While an evolutionary development of the straight-wing F-84 Thunderjet, the F-84F was a new design. The RF-84F Thunderflash was a photo reconnaissance version....

s were found to have corrosion problems. The F-4's ANG service lasted until 31 March 1990, when it was replaced by the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

On 15 August 1990, 24 F-4G Wild Weasel Vs and six RF-4Cs were mobilized to Shaikh Isa AB, Bahrain, for Operation Desert Storm
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

. The F-4G was the only aircraft in the USAF inventory equipped for the suppression of enemy air defenses
SEAD
Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses , also known as "Wild Weasel" and "Iron Hand" operations in the United States, are military actions to suppress enemy surface-based air defenses , primarily in the first hours of an attack.One fourth of American combat sorties in recent conflicts have been SEAD...

 (SEAD) role, and was needed to protect coalition aircraft from Iraq's extensive air defense system. The RF-4C was the only aircraft equipped with the ultra-long-range KS-127 LOROP (long-range oblique photography) camera, and was used for a variety of reconnaissance missions. In spite of flying almost daily missions, only one RF-4C was lost in a fatal accident before the start of hostilities. One F-4G was lost when enemy fire damaged the fuel tanks and the aircraft ran out of fuel near a friendly airbase. The last USAF Phantoms, F-4G Wild Weasel Vs from 561st Fighter Squadron
561st Fighter Squadron
The 561st Fighter Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force squadron, being last assigned to the 57th Operations Group at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. It was inactivated on 1 October 1996....

, were retired on 26 March 1996. The last operational flight of the F-4G Wild Weasel was from the 190th Fighter Squadron, Idaho Air National Guard, in April 1996. The last operational USAF/ANG F-4 to land was flown by Maj Mike Webb and Maj Gary Leeder, Idaho ANG.

Like the Navy, the Air Force has operated QF-4 target drones, serving with the 82d Aerial Targets Squadron
82d Aerial Targets Squadron
The 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron ' is a United States Air Force unit. It is assigned to the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group and stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.-Overview:...

 at Tyndall AFB, Florida. It is expected that the F-4 will remain in the target role with the 82d ATRS until 2013-14, when they will be replaced by early versions of the F-16 Fighting Falcon
F-16 Fighting Falcon
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multirole jet fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force . Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,400 aircraft have been built since...

 converted to a QF-16 configuration. Several QF-4s are maintained in historical color schemes, being displayed as part of Air Combat Command's Heritage Flight at weekends, while serving as target aircraft during the week.

Non-U.S. air forces

The Phantom served with the air forces of many countries, including Australia, Egypt
Egyptian Air Force
The Egyptian Air Force, or EAF , is the aviation branch of the Egyptian Armed Forces. The EAF is headed by an Air Marshal . Currently, the commander of the Egyptian Air Force is Air Marshal Reda Mahmoud Hafez Mohamed...

, Germany, United Kingdom, Greece, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Israel, Japan, Spain, South Korea and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

.

Australia

The Royal Australian Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
The Royal Australian Air Force is the air force branch of the Australian Defence Force. The RAAF was formed in March 1921. It continues the traditions of the Australian Flying Corps , which was formed on 22 October 1912. The RAAF has taken part in many of the 20th century's major conflicts...

 (RAAF) leased 24 USAF F-4Es from 1970 to 1973 while waiting for their order for the General Dynamics F-111
General Dynamics F-111
The General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark" was a medium-range interdictor and tactical strike aircraft that also filled the roles of strategic bomber, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare in its various versions. Developed in the 1960s by General Dynamics, it first entered service in 1967 with the...

C to be delivered. They were so well-liked that the RAAF considered adopting the F-4E instead. They were operated from RAAF Amberley by No. 1 Squadron
No. 1 Squadron RAAF
No. 1 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force squadron based at RAAF Amberley. The squadron is currently being re-equipped with F/A-18F Super Hornet multi-role fighters.-World War I:...

 and No. 6 Squadron
No. 6 Squadron RAAF
No. 6 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force training and bomber squadron. The squadron was first formed in 1917 and served as a training unit based in England during World War I. It was disbanded in 1919 but re-formed at the start of 1939...

.

Egypt

In 1979, the Egyptian Air Force
Egyptian Air Force
The Egyptian Air Force, or EAF , is the aviation branch of the Egyptian Armed Forces. The EAF is headed by an Air Marshal . Currently, the commander of the Egyptian Air Force is Air Marshal Reda Mahmoud Hafez Mohamed...

 purchased 35 former USAF F-4Es along with a number of Sparrow, Sidewinder, and Maverick missiles from the U.S. for $594 million as part of the "Peace Pharaoh" program. An additional seven surplus USAF aircraft were purchased in 1988. Three attrition replacements had been received by the end of the 1990s.

Germany

The German Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

initially ordered the reconnaissance RF-4E in 1969, receiving a total of 88 aircraft which were delivered from January 1971. In 1982, the initially unarmed RF-4Es were given a secondary ground attack capability, and were retired in 1994.

In 1973, under the "Peace Rhine" program, the Luftwaffe purchased the lightened and simplified F-4F which was upgraded in the mid-1980s. 24 German-owned F-4Fs were operated by the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing of the USAF at Holloman AFB to train Luftwaffe crews until 2002. In 1975, Germany also received 10 F-4Es for training in the U.S. In the late 1990s, these were withdrawn from service, being replaced by F-4Fs. Germany also initiated the "ICE" (Improved Combat Efficiency) program in 1983. The 110 ICE-upgraded F-4Fs entered service in 1992, and are expected to remain in service until 2012. All the remaining Luftwaffe's Phantoms are now based at Wittmund with Jagdgeschwader 71
Jagdgeschwader 71
Jagdgeschwader 71 Richthofen is a Fighter Wing of the German Luftwaffe. JG 71 was West Germany's first operational jet fighter unit and is currently the last operational German fighter unit using the F-4 Phantom II aircraft.-History:...

 (fighter wing 71) in Northern Germany.

Greece

In 1971, the Hellenic Air Force
Hellenic Air Force
The Hellenic Air Force, abbreviated to HAF is the air force of Greece. The mission of the Hellenic Air Force is to guard and protect Greek airspace, provide air assistance and support to the Hellenic Army and the Hellenic Navy, as well as the provision of humanitarian aid in Greece and around the...

 ordered brand new F-4E Phantoms, with deliveries starting in 1974. In the early 1990s the Hellenic AF acquired surplus RF-4Es and F-4Es from the Luftwaffe and U.S. ANG.

Following the success of the German ICE program, on 11 August 1997, DASA of Germany received a contract to upgrade 39 aircraft to the very similar "Peace Icarus 2000" standard. The Hellenic AF operates 35 upgraded F-4E-PI2000 (338 and 339 Squadrons) and 22 RF-4E aircraft (348 Squadron) as of May 2008.

Iran

In the 1960s and 1970s, then U.S.-friendly Iran purchased 225 F-4D, F-4E and RF-4E Phantoms. The Imperial Iranian Air Force saw at least one engagement, resulting in a loss, after an RF-4C was rammed by a Soviet MiG-21 during Project Dark Gene
Project Dark Gene
Project Dark Gene was an active, aerial espionage program run by the CIA and Imperial Iranian Air Force from bases inside Iran against the Soviet Union. The program was run in conjunction with Project Ibex, which was a more traditional ELINT mission. The first operations were during the 1960s with...

, an ELINT operation during the Cold War. The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force
Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force
The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force ' is the aviation branch of the Iranian armed forces. The present Air Force came into being in the early 1980s when the former Imperial Iranian Air Force was renamed....

 Phantoms saw action in the Iran-Iraq war
Iranian Air Force in Iran-Iraq war
On September 21, 1980, the day before the Iraqi invasion, the Iranian Air force was reported to have 447 functional combat aircraft stationed at 10 air bases throughout the country. There were modern Chengdu J-7s, 18 J-6s, 79 F-14s, 209 F-4 Phantom IIs, and 167 F-5s...

 in the 1980s and are kept operational by overhaul and servicing from Iran’s aerospace industry.

Israel

The Israeli Air Force
Israeli Air Force
The Israeli Air Force is the air force of the State of Israel and the aerial arm of the Israel Defense Forces. It was founded on May 28, 1948, shortly after the Israeli Declaration of Independence...

 was the largest foreign operator of the Phantom, flying both newly built and ex-USAF aircraft, as well as several one-off special reconnaissance variants. The first F-4Es, nicknamed "Kurnass" (Sledgehammer), and RF-4Es, nicknamed "Orev" (Raven), were delivered in 1969 under the "Peace Echo I" program. Additional Phantoms arrived during the 1970s under "Peace Echo II" through "Peace Echo V" and "Nickel Grass
Operation Nickel Grass
Operation Nickel Grass was an overt strategic airlift operation conducted by the United States to deliver weapons and supplies to Israel during the Yom Kippur War. The Military Airlift Command of the U.S...

" programs. Israeli Phantoms saw extensive combat during Arab–Israeli conflicts, first seeing action during the War of Attrition
War of Attrition
The international community and both countries attempted to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The Jarring Mission of the United Nations was supposed to ensure that the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 242 would be observed, but by late 1970 it was clear that this mission had been...

. In the 1980s, Israel began the "Kurnass 2000" modernization program which significantly updated avionics. The last Israeli F-4s were retired in 2004.

Japan

From 1968, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force
Japan Air Self-Defense Force
The , or JASDF, is the aviation branch of the Japan Self-Defense Forces responsible for the defense of Japanese airspace and other aerospace operations. The JASDF carries out combat air patrols around Japan, while also maintaining an extensive network of ground and air early warning radar systems...

 purchased a total of 140 F-4EJ Phantoms without aerial refueling, Bullpup ASM system, nuclear control system and ground attack capabilities. Mitsubishi built 138 under license in Japan and 14 unarmed reconnaissance RF-4Es were imported. Of these, 96 F-4EJs have since been modified to the F-4EJ standard. 15 F-4EJs have been converted to reconnaissance aircraft designated RF-4EJ, with similar upgrades as the F-4EJ Kai. Japan has a fleet of 90 F-4s in service as of 2007, and studies are underway to replace them with either the Eurofighter Typhoon
Eurofighter Typhoon
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole combat aircraft, designed and built by a consortium of three companies: EADS, Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems; working through a holding company, Eurofighter GmbH, which was formed in 1986...

, Dassault Rafale, or one of several others.

South Korea

The Republic of Korea Air Force
Republic of Korea Air Force
The Republic of Korea Air Force is the air force of South Korea...

 purchased its first batch of secondhand USAF F-4D Phantoms in 1968 under the "Peace Spectator" program. The F-4Ds continued to be delivered until 1988. The "Peace Pheasant II" program also provided newly-built and former USAF F-4Es. Currently the F-4Ds are being replaced in service by new F-15K Slam Eagles.

Spain

The Spanish Air Force
Spanish Air Force
-The early stages:Hot air balloons had been used with military purposes in Spain as far back as 1896. In 1905, with the help of Alfredo Kindelán, Leonardo Torres y Quevedo directed the construction of the first Spanish dirigible in the Army Military Aerostatics Service, created in 1896 and located...

 acquired its first batch of ex-USAF F-4C Phantoms in 1971 under the "Peace Alfa" program. Designated C.12, the aircraft were retired in 1989. At the same time, the SAF received a number of ex-USAF RF-4Cs, designated CR.12. In 1995–1996, these aircraft received extensive avionics upgrades. Spain retired its RF-4s in 2002.

Turkey

The Turkish Air Force
Turkish Air Force
The Turkish Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the Turkish Armed Forces. It ranks 3rd in NATO in terms of fleet size behind the USAF and Royal Air Force with a current inventory of 798 aircraft .-Initial stages:...

 received 40 F-4Es in 1974, with a further 32 F-4Es and 8 RF-4Es in 1977–78 under the "Peace Diamond III" program, followed by 40 ex-USAF aircraft in "Peace Diamond IV" in 1987, and a further 40 ex-U.S. Air National Guard Aircraft in 1991. A further 32 RF-4Es were transferred to Turkey after being retired by the Luftwaffe between 1992 and 1994. In 1995, IAI of Israel implemented an upgrade similar to Kurnass 2000 on 54 Turkish F-4Es which were dubbed the F-4E 2020 Terminator. Turkish F-4s, and more modern F-16s have been used to strike Kurdish separatists in ongoing military operations in Northern Iraq. In September 2010, US Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Tamara Parker confirmed a Chinese-Turkish joint exercise from September 20 through October 4 at the Konya air base in Turkey's central Anatolia region. According to Reuters, the Turkish air force flew F-4s, and China flew Russian-built Su-27s. Reports indicated F-4s successfully defeated Su-27s in air combat exercises.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom bought versions based on the USN F-4J for use with the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 and the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

's Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
The Fleet Air Arm is the branch of the British Royal Navy responsible for the operation of naval aircraft. The Fleet Air Arm currently operates the AgustaWestland Merlin, Westland Sea King and Westland Lynx helicopters...

. The main differences were the use of the British Rolls-Royce Spey engines and of British-made avionics. The RN and RAF versions were given the designation F-4K and F-4M respectively, and entered service with the Phantom FG.1 (fighter/ground attack) and Phantom FGR.2 (fighter/ground attack/reconnaissance) British designations
British military aircraft designation systems
British military aircraft designations are used to refer to aircraft types and variants operated by the armed forces of the United Kingdom.Since the end of the First World War, aircraft types in British military service have generally been known by a name British military aircraft designations are...

.

In 1982 during the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

 three Phantom FGR2s of No. 29 Squadron
No. 29 Squadron RAF
No. 29 Squadron of the Royal Air Force was first raised in 1915, and is one of the world's oldest fighter squadrons. The second British squadron to receive the Eurofighter Typhoon, it is currently the Operational Conversion Unit for the RAF's newest fighter.-Service in World War I:This unit was...

 were on active Quick Reaction Alert duty on Ascension Island to protect the base from air attack. After the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

, 15 upgraded ex-USN F-4Js, known as the F-4J(UK) entered RAF service to compensate for one interceptor squadron redeployed to the Falklands.

Around 15 RAF squadrons received various marks of Phantom, many of them based in Germany. The first to be equipped was No. 6 Squadron
No. 6 Squadron RAF
No. 6 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operates the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 at RAF Leuchars.It was previously equipped with the Jaguar GR.3 in the close air support and tactical reconnaissance roles, and was based at RAF Coltishall, Norfolk until April 2006, moving to RAF Coningsby until...

 at RAF Leuchars
RAF Leuchars
RAF Leuchars is the most northerly air defence station in the United Kingdom. It is located in Leuchars, Fife, on the east coast of Scotland, near to the university town of St Andrews.-Operations:...

 in July 1969. One noteworthy deployment was to No. 43 Squadron
No. 43 Squadron RAF
No. 43 Squadron was a Royal Air Force aircraft squadron originally formed in 1916 as part of the Royal Flying Corps. It last operated the Panavia Tornado F3 from RAF Leuchars, Scotland in the air defence role until disbanded in July 2009.-In World War I:...

 where Phantom FG1s remained the squadron equipment for a remarkable 20 years, arriving in September 1969 and departing in July 1989. During this period the squadron was based at Leuchars.

The interceptor Phantoms were replaced by the Panavia Tornado F3
Panavia Tornado ADV
The Panavia Tornado Air Defence Variant is a long-range, twin-engine interceptor version of the swing-wing Panavia Tornado. The aircraft's first flight was on 27 October 1979, and it entered service in 1986. It was retired on 22 March 2011 by the Royal Air Forceand is now only in service with the...

 from the late 1980s onwards, and the last British Phantoms were retired in October 1992 when No. 74 Squadron
No. 74 Squadron RAF
No. 74 Squadron RAF, also known as a "Tiger Squadron" from its tiger head motif, is a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It operated fighter aircraft from 1917 to the 1990s.-First World War:...

 disbanded.

Civilian use

Sandia National Laboratories used an F-4 mounted on a "rocket sled" in a crash test to see the results of an aircraft hitting a reinforced concrete structure, such as a nuclear power plant.

One aircraft, an F-4D (civilian registration N749CF), is operated by the Massachusetts-based non-profit organization Collings Foundation as a "living history
Living history
Living history is an activity that incorporates historical tools, activities and dress into an interactive presentation that seeks to give observers and participants a sense of stepping back in time. Although it does not necessarily seek to reenact a specific event in history, living history is...

" exhibit. Funds to maintain and operate the aircraft, which is based in Houston, Texas, are raised through donations/sponsorships from public and commercial parties.

NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

's Dryden Flight Research Center
Dryden Flight Research Center
The Dryden Flight Research Center , located inside Edwards Air Force Base, is an aeronautical research center operated by NASA. On March 26, 1976 it was named in honor of the late Hugh L. Dryden, a prominent aeronautical engineer who at the time of his death in 1965 was NASA's deputy administrator...

 acquired an F-4A Phantom II on 3 December 1965. It made fifty-five flights in support of short programs, chase on X-15
North American X-15
The North American X-15 rocket-powered aircraft/spaceplane was part of the X-series of experimental aircraft, initiated with the Bell X-1, that were made for the USAAF/USAF, NACA/NASA, and the USN. The X-15 set speed and altitude records in the early 1960s, reaching the edge of outer space and...

 missions and lifting body flights. The F-4A also supported a biomedical monitoring program involving 1,000 flights by NASA Flight Research Center aerospace research pilots and students of the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School flying high-performance aircraft. The pilots were instrumented to record accurate and reliable data of electrocardiogram, respiration rate and normal acceleration. In 1967, the F-4A supported a brief military-inspired program to determine whether an airplane's sonic boom could be directed and whether it could possibly be used as a weapon of sorts, or at least an annoyance. NASA also flew an F-4C in a spanwise blowing study from 1983 to 1985, after which it was returned to the Air Force.

Variants

F-4A, B, J, N and S
Variants for the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marines. F-4B was upgraded to F-4N, and F-4J was upgraded to F-4S.

F-110 Spectre, F-4C, D and E
Variants for the U.S. Air Force. F-4E introduced an internal M61 Vulcan cannon. The F-4D and E were the most numerously built, widely exported, and also extensively used under the Semi Automatic Ground Environment
Semi Automatic Ground Environment
The Semi-Automatic Ground Environment was an automated control system for tracking and intercepting enemy bomber aircraft used by NORAD from the late 1950s into the 1980s...

 (SAGE) U.S. air defense system.

F-4G Wild Weasel V
A dedicated SEAD
SEAD
Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses , also known as "Wild Weasel" and "Iron Hand" operations in the United States, are military actions to suppress enemy surface-based air defenses , primarily in the first hours of an attack.One fourth of American combat sorties in recent conflicts have been SEAD...

 variant with updated radar and avionics, converted from F-4E. The designation F-4G was applied earlier to an entirely different Navy Phantom.

F-4K and M
Variants for the British military re-engined with Rolls-Royce Spey turbofans.

F-4EJ
Simplified F-4E exported to and license-built in Japan.

F-4F
Simplified F-4E exported to Germany.

QF-4B, E, G, N and S
Retired aircraft converted into remote-controlled target drones used for weapons and defensive systems research.

RF-4B, C, and E
Tactical reconnaissance variants.


Nicknames

The Phantom gathered a number of nicknames during its career. Some of these names included "Rhino", "Double Ugly", the "Flying Anvil", "Flying Footlocker", "Flying Brick", "Lead Sled", the "Big Iron Sled" and the "St. Louis Slugger". In recognition of its record of downing large numbers of Soviet-built MiG
Mig
-Industry:*MiG, now Mikoyan, a Russian aircraft corporation, formerly the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau*Metal inert gas welding or MIG welding, a type of welding using an electric arc and a shielding gas-Business and finance:...

s, it was called the "World’s Leading Distributor of MiG Parts". As a reflection of excellent performance in spite of its bulk, the F-4 was dubbed "the triumph of thrust over aerodynamics." German Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

crews called their F-4s the Eisenschwein ("Iron Pig"), Fliegender Ziegelstein ("Flying Brick") and Luftverteidigungsdiesel ("Air Defense Diesel").

Imitating the spelling of the aircraft’s name, McDonnell issued a series of patches. Pilots became "Phantom Phlyers", backseaters became "Phantom Pherrets", fans of the F-4 "Phantom Phanatics", and call it the "Phabulous Phantom". Ground crewmen who worked on the aircraft are known as "Phantom Phixers".

The Spook

The aircraft's emblem is a whimsical cartoon ghost called "The Spook", which was created by McDonnell Douglas technical artist, Anthony "Tony" Wong, for shoulder patches. The name "Spook" was coined by the crews of either the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing or the 4453rd Combat Crew Training Wing at MacDill AFB. The figure is ubiquitous, appearing on every imaginable item associated with the F-4. The Spook has followed the Phantom around the world adopting local fashions; for example, the British adaptation of the U.S. "Phantom Man" is a Spook that sometimes wears a bowler hat and smokes a pipe.

Aircraft on display

Worldwide there are a number of F-4 Phantom IIs on display. For example, a Phantom II F-4C-15-MC, 63-7699, which is on loan from the USAF Museum
National Museum of the United States Air Force
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is the official museum of the United States Air Force located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base northeast of Dayton, Ohio. The NMUSAF is the world's largest and oldest military aviation museum with more than 360 aircraft and missiles on display...

, is on display at the Midland Air Museum
Midland Air Museum
The Midland Air Museum is situated just outside the village of Baginton in Warwickshire, England, and is adjacent to Coventry Airport. The museum includes the Sir Frank Whittle Jet Heritage Centre , where many exhibits are on display in a large hangar...

, Coventry
Coventry
Coventry is a city and metropolitan borough in the county of West Midlands in England. Coventry is the 9th largest city in England and the 11th largest in the United Kingdom. It is also the second largest city in the English Midlands, after Birmingham, with a population of 300,848, although...

, England, UK; a Phantom II F4H-1, BuNo 145310, U.S. Navy, is located at French Valley Airport
French Valley Airport
French Valley Airport is a county-owned public-use airport in southwestern Riverside County, California, located on Highway 79 near the communities of Murrieta and Temecula.- Facilities and aircraft :...

, Murrieta
Murrieta, California
Murrieta has a Mediterranean climate or Dry-Summer Subtropical . Murrieta has plenty of sunshine throughout the year, with an average of 263 sunshine days and 35 days with measurable precipitation annually....

, California, USA; and there is a dwindling number of reserve F-4s stored at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base
Davis–Monthan Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located within the city limits, and approximately south-southeast of downtown, Tucson, Arizona....

, Arizona, USA. The Museum of Flight
Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight is a private non-profit air and space museum at King County International Airport , south of downtown Seattle, Washington. It was established in 1965 and is fully accredited by the American Association of Museums...

 at Boeing Field in Seattle has an F-4C Phantom II on display. This F-4C was built in 1965 and served in Vietnam, shooting down three MiG-21s. At the entrance point to Homestead Air Reserve Base in South Florida, there is an F-4 on display. Grissom Air Reserve Peru,Indiana. Cockpit indoor display and outdoor full plane. Currently the United States Air Force Academy
United States Air Force Academy
The United States Air Force Academy is an accredited college for the undergraduate education of officer candidates for the United States Air Force. Its campus is located immediately north of Colorado Springs in El Paso County, Colorado, United States...

 has an F-4 on display in the south-west corner of the Terrazzo.

One aircraft, an F-4D, is operated by the Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

-based non-profit organization Collings Foundation as a "living history
Living history
Living history is an activity that incorporates historical tools, activities and dress into an interactive presentation that seeks to give observers and participants a sense of stepping back in time. Although it does not necessarily seek to reenact a specific event in history, living history is...

" exhibit. Funds to maintain and operate the aircraft, which is based in Houston, Texas, USA. are raised through donations/sponsorships from public and commercial parties.

Notable accidents

  • On 6 June 1971, Hughes Airwest Flight 706
    Hughes Airwest Flight 706
    Hughes Airwest Flight 706 was a regularly scheduled Hughes Airwest flight operated by a Douglas DC-9-31 that collided in midair with a U.S. Marine Corps F-4B Phantom II on June 6, 1971. Flight 706 was en route from Los Angeles, California, to Seattle, Washington, with stopovers in Salt Lake City,...

    , a McDonnell Douglas DC-9
    McDonnell Douglas DC-9
    The McDonnell Douglas DC-9 is a twin-engine, single-aisle jet airliner. It was first manufactured in 1965 with its maiden flight later that year. The DC-9 was designed for frequent, short flights. The final DC-9 was delivered in October 1982.The DC-9 was followed in subsequent modified forms by...

    -31 collided in midair with a United States Marine Corps F-4B Phantom above the San Gabriel Mountains
    San Gabriel Mountains
    The San Gabriel Mountains Range is located in northern Los Angeles County and western San Bernardino County, California, United States. The mountain range lies between the Los Angeles Basin and the Mojave Desert, with Interstate 5 to the west and Interstate 15 to the east...

     while en route from Los Angeles International Airport
    Los Angeles International Airport
    Los Angeles International Airport is the primary airport serving the Greater Los Angeles Area, the second-most populated metropolitan area in the United States. It is most often referred to by its IATA airport code LAX, with the letters pronounced individually...

     to Salt Lake City. All 49 onboard the DC-9 and one of the crew on the F-4 were killed.

  • On 9 August 1974, a Royal Air Force
    Royal Air Force
    The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

     Phantom FGR2 was involved in a fatal collison
    1974 Norfolk mid-air collision
    The 1974 Norfolk mid-air collision happened on the 9 August 1974 at Fordham Fen, Norfolk, England when a Royal Air Force McDonnell-Douglas Phantom FGR2 of 41 Squadron collided with a Piper Pawnee crop spraying aircraft. All three aviators were killed, the pilot and navigator of the Phantom and the...

     with a civilian PA-25-235 Pawnee
    Piper PA-25 Pawnee
    The PA-25 Pawnee was an agricultural aircraft produced by Piper Aircraft between 1959 and 1982. It remains a widely used aircraft in agricultural spraying and is also used as a tow plane, or tug, for launching gliders or for towing banners. On April 15, 1998, The New Piper Aircraft, Inc....

     crop-sprayer over Norfolk, England.

  • On 21 March 1987, Captain Dean Paul Martin
    Dean Paul Martin
    Dean Paul Martin was an American entertainer, noted as a tennis player, a singer and actor, and a military pilot.-Early life and career:...

    , son of entertainer Dean Martin
    Dean Martin
    Dean Martin was an American singer, film actor, television star and comedian. Martin's hit singles included "Memories Are Made of This", "That's Amore", "Everybody Loves Somebody", "You're Nobody till Somebody Loves You", "Sway", "Volare" and "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?"...

     and a pilot in the 163rd Tactical Fighter Group
    163d Reconnaissance Wing
    The 163d Reconnaissance Wing is a wing of the United States Air Force located at March Joint Air Reserve Base, California. It is a component of the California Air National Guard, and is one of the first ANG units to fly the MQ-1 Predator...

     of the California Air National Guard
    California Air National Guard
    The California Air National Guard is the air component of the California National Guard. The California Air National Guard is headquartered at Sacramento, California.One of the duties of the California Air National Guard is defense of the United States...

    , crashed his F-4C into San Gorgonio Mountain
    San Gorgonio Mountain
    San Gorgonio Mountain, also known locally as Mount San Gorgonio, or Old Greyback, is the highest peak in Southern California at . It is in the San Bernardino Mountains, east of the city of San Bernardino and north-northeast of San Gorgonio Pass. It lies within the San Gorgonio Wilderness, part of...

    , California shortly after departure from March AFB. Both Martin and his weapons system officer (WSO) were killed.

Specifications (F-4E)

See also

External links

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