Hey gang! Another news post today. Today we’d like to showcase one of my most favorite fixed winged aircraft. The F4 Phantom II.
The F-4 Phantom was designed as a fleet defense fighter for the U.S. Navy, and first entered service in 1960. By 1963, it had been adopted by the U.S. Air Force for the fighter-bomber role. When production ended in 1981, 5,195 Phantom IIs had been built, making it the most numerous American supersonic military aircraft. Until the advent of the F-15 Eagle, the F-4 also held a record for the longest continuous production with a run of 24 years. Innovations in the F-4 included an advanced pulse-doppler radar and extensive use of titanium in its airframe.
The F-4 could carry up to 18,650 pounds (8,480 kg) of weapons on nine external hardpoints, including air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and unguided, guided, and nuclear bombs. Since the F-8 Crusader was to be used for close combat, the F-4 was designed, like other interceptors of the day, without an internal cannon; however, should it be engaged in visual range dogfights, the radar was assisted by the Weapons Systems Officer in spotting opposing fighters. It became the primary fighter-bomber of both the Navy and Air Force by the end of the Vietnam War.
At the time of the Tonkin Gulf incident, 13 of 31 deployable Navy squadrons were armed with the type. F-4Bs from Constellation made the first Phantom combat sortie of the Vietnam War on 5 August 1964, flying bomber escort in Operation Pierce Arrow.
At first reluctant to adopt a Navy fighter, the USAF quickly embraced the design and became the largest Phantom user. The first Air Force Phantoms in Vietnam were F-4Cs from the “Triple Nickel” 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron which arrived in December 1964. Unlike the Navy, the Air Force initially flew its Phantoms with a rated pilot in the back seat rather than a weapon/targeting systems officer (later designated as weapon systems officer or WSO), and all USAF Phantoms retained dual flight controls.
From the initial deployment of the F-4 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.
Both of our F4 Phantoms are equipped to perform well in these roles within EoD. Each aircraft is loaded with Rockeye MK-82 bombs and can also be fitted with Napalm Canisters. The F4 also contains a nose mounted gun pod for air to air defense. In addition to the gun pod, aim 9 sidewinder missles are standard. The RIO has Mavrick air to surface rockets at his disposal.
All in all, the F4 Phantom II is an aircraft to be feared and respected in the skies over Vietnam. Look for this exciting aircraft on a carrier or runway soon.