Like I mentioned, I couldn't recall (nor find) the actual tail number of the Collings bird when I wrote that post (Tuesday night) and my Google Fu was sorely lacking on that evening. 'Tis much better today!
Seems the Collings bird is actually tail number 0749, she's a McDonnell F-4D-28-MC Phantom, built in 1965. Joe Baugher's site had this to say,
0749 (MSN 1813) to AMARC as FP426 Jan 12, 1990. Allocated to Collings Foundation as N749CF in October 1998 and returned to flying status in August 1999. Repainted to replicate the F-4 Capt Steve Ritchie used to achieve his fifth kill in Vietnam. Gen. Ritchie will take the aircraft to selected venues around the country as part of the Vietnam Memorial Flight. (Editor's Note: Not any more!)Turns out though that 0749 is no longer painted up as Steve Ritchie's ride, 7463, nope, she's been repainted again to be Robin Olds jet which he flew leading Operation Bolo! The Collings repainted bird is that lead in photo. The real deal is here -
|(Go read this! Source)|
7680 (MSN 806) shot down MiG-21 Jan 2, 1967, flown by Col Robin Olds and 1st Lt C. Clifton. Shot down MiG-21 Apr 5, 1967. Shot down MiG-17 May 13, 1967 flown by Lt Col. F. A. Haeffner and 1st Lt M R. Bever of 433rd TFS. Shot down by AAA Nov 20, 1967 with 480th TFS, 366th TFW while attacking suspected SAM site. Rear seat ejected safely and was picked up, but pilot not seen to leave the aircraft before water impact. Pilot declared KIA. Plane marked as 63-7680 on display at Lackland AFB, Texas is actually US Navy 149421.She had two red stars on her vari-ramp, one of which Robin Olds put there. You can read more here. So the Collings jet is a D-model, masquerading as a C-model. (Only the cognoscenti could tell the difference. I'm not sure I could tell now other than from what the cockpit looked like, if she still has her radar, then I could tell! Also the bird at Lackland is Navy, pretending to be Air Force. Chaos! Dogs and cats living together...)
So there's a jet flying around marked as 7680, there's another down at Lackland marked as 7680, while the real deal is at the bottom of the sea. Probably with her pilot still aboard, may he Rest In Peace.
Oh, one more thing, Steve Ritchie apparently didn't get his five kills all in 7463. No sir, here's some data from Aces & Aerial Victories, US Air Force in Southeast Asia 1965-1973 (which you can get a PDF copy of here).
|Photo Credit, Stars & Stripes Archive|
Three victories in the F-4D, two while flying an F-4E. (Seems odd that his last was in a D-model. Maybe that's just me.) All victories were using the AIM-7 missile. That was the missile guided by my old radar, well in the D-model anyway.
Now for your viewing pleasure (and if you have the cash to spare maybe you could do this some day) the Collings Foundation Vietnam Memorial flight -