|Royal Air Force Phantom|
Now that opening photo is a British Phantom with a pretty full up air-to-air load out. Four AIM-7 Sparrows, four AIM-9 Sidewinders and a 20mm gun pod mounted on the center-line station.
In my time on the flightline I never saw a bird with four Sparrows loaded. Typically we'd have an ECM (Electronic Counter Measures) pod mounted in the right forward AIM-7 missile well (the left could be used as well IIRC). So I've seen three AIM-7s loaded, but never four.
For those who simply must know, the AIM-7 is a radar guided missile. My old job on the Phantom was maintaining the radar which guided said missile. You had to keep the nose of the jet pointed at the target to have much chance of a kill with an AIM-7. (And that's if the bugger didn't just fall off the jet with no motor ignition. That happened with some of the early models of the missile.)
The AIM-9, on the other hand, is a heat seeking missile. Get the tone in your headset (which tells you that the missile seeker head has acquired a heat source), pull the trigger and move on to your next task. The 'Winder is one of those fire and forget missiles.
The gun pod is courtesy of the geniuses who decided (pre-Vietnam) that fighters would no longer require a gun, missiles would do the trick. Trouble is, nobody told the Commies. All of their fighters (MiGs and Sukhois, etc.) did have an internal gun. Oops. Nowadays, our birds come with a gun. No need to hang one in an unwieldy location.
So pre-F-4E, if you wanted a gun, you had to hang one on the bird. Did wonderful things for the aircraft's handling characteristics. (Not!)
|F-4C (Tail No 64-0793) of the 199th Fighter Interceptor Squadron,|
154th Composite Group, Hawaii Air National Guard,
at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii (USA) on 21 March 1980
I swear that tail number above rings some dusty old bells in the Old AF Sarge's brain housing group. We had an entire squadron of F-4Cs at Kadena when I was there from 1976 to 1978, I may have actually worked on that bird!
Now that BB-stacker (er, I mean highly trained munitions troop) in the foreground has a trailer loaded with AIM-9P Sidewinder and AIM-7E Sparrow missiles. War shots all as there ain't a speck of blue to be seen. For those who like to know such tidbits, practice munitions are typically blue, as shown below.
|"Practice" AIM-9 Sidewinder|
For the non-war shots, think "no warhead, no rocket motor". Consequently, no "BOOM". Which is a good thing during peace time. (Hhmm, methinks Lex had a story about flying with live ordnance versus practice and having had the opportunity as a nugget to down his flight lead. Which he didn't take, hence his subsequent long and storied career in the Navy.)
Oh, one more tidbit, AIM stands for Air Intercept Missile. The Sparrow radar guided missile the Navy refers to as the RIM-7. RIM = Radar Intercept Missile. Both terms are accurate, perhaps the Navy uses the RIM terminology because you can fire Sparrows from ships too. (And the Air Force doesn't really have ships, we have boats. But no ships.) Of course, they also call the Sparrow the "Sea Sparrow", or "Sea Chicken" as I've heard it referred to as well. (Hey, it was in CIC on a real Navy warship where I heard it. So it must be true. Right? Bueller?)
|RIM-7 Sea Sparrow being launched from USS Abraham Lincoln, CVN-72|
|F-4G Wild Weasel|
Now among those F-4Cs I worked on at Kadena were a number of what were called "Wild Weasels". These birds were configured to go after enemy Surface to Air Missile (SAM) batteries, specifically by offering themselves as targets and then launching High Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM) at the SAM site's radar. The HARM would ride the radar beam down and destroy the radar, and with luck the radar's crew. Without the radar the SAMs were just big explosive telephone poles.
Now Wild Weasel crews were all insanely brave (so they tell me). The Phantoms they flew had special equipment for detecting and tracking those SAM radars. I've also been told that the engines on the Weasel Phantoms put out a lot more power than a regular jet. Seems they needed the extra thrust to get those giant brass balls airborne. At least that's what the Wild Weasel community tells me. And why wouldn't I believe them?
Another tidbit, the back seater on a Wild Weasel was called "the bear". And the back seat was called the "bear pit". (I read all that someplace...)
Anyway, that last photo above is the F-4G Wild Weasel which was really the last Phantom in Air Force service*. Those birds saw action in Desert Storm. I recall there being a squadron of them in Germany, at Bitburg I think. The old Phantom guys out there can correct me if I'm wrong. (Which, while rare, does happen from time to time. What I typically screw up is punctuation, I'm terrible at it.)
Oh yeah, in the Weasel photo, that's an ECM pod in the left forward AIM-7 well. (Remember, I mentioned the pod earlier. Didn't know there was gonna be a quiz did ya?)
Anyway, for fun, I'll let the readers ID all the cool ordnance on the F-4G. Correct answers will be showered with praise. (And that's pretty much it. Hey, I'm a non-profit!)
* I don't count the drone F-4s. That's just too hideous a fate to contemplate for such an iconic aircraft.