Thursday, November 19, 2015

Speaking of F-4s...

(Source)
Yesterday I told you about "my" Phantom, 7463, and how there was one (the real deal) out at the Air Force Academy and another painted as 7463 and operated by the Collings Foundation. I was half right, maybe a bit more than half, but I digress.

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)
Sadly that aircraft is no longer with us, she was lost over North Vietnam, according to Joe Baugher's site she was a McDonnell F-4C-21-MC Phantom built in 1963 -
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 -

26 comments:

  1. Vivid memory from Forrestal. I was up in the island on the vultures roost and watching a cat shot. Think about it, we are going fast enough to put at least 25 knots of wind across the bow, the Airedales have set up a F-4 for launch on the starboard bow cat and I am watching it from the island. The various color shirts have completed the parts of the ballet needed to get ready for launch and the jet blast deflector goes up. The Phantom goes full afterburner, and seems to hunker down like a runner in the starter blocks. Then launch. In just a few seconds the F-4 goes from stop to mighty fast, ahead in the fading light two big fireballs that go away when the pilot come off of afterburner. And yes, of course a thin smoke trail.

    And on the flight deck the ballet continues.

    I spent my Navy career and civilian career in various engineering spaces doing snipe things, and yet when you talked about the Phantoms, that memory popped up and was incredibly vivid. Almost felt the wind and almost smelled the burning jet fuel.

    Thank you.

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    1. Your description was poetry John. Thank you for sharing that memory!

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  2. Hmmm. $8K for three scooter hops. Cheap at twice the price!

    Like John I have a lot of memories. I was just thinking yesterday how much I took for granted, as if the opportunity to work the roof and crew the Sea Pigs and beg jet rides would always be available. My kingdom for a time machine!

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  3. It is interesting that Ritchie flew both the D and E and interchangeably evidently. There were significant handling differences between the two models especially at high AOA. The E model would forgive the use of a little aileron at Hi AOA while the D would very quickly have you executing Bold Face procedures for departing controlled flight
    1. Stick-Forward
    2. Ailerons and Rudder - Neutral
    3. If not recovered, maintain Full Forward Stick and Deploy Drag Chute.

    Most of the WSOs I flew with at the Kun had knees that automatically came together on either side of the stick as soon as the AOA aural warning horn started sounding.
    I could see moving from the D to the E, but not moving back (for the 5th Kill)

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    1. So I'm not the only one who found that odd.

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    2. Seem's like Raz talked about that in his second book, Palace Cobra. IIRC he didn't go into detail about the differences but it sounded like they drove what they were assigned which could be a D or an E. This was in the lead in to and during LBII and things were a bit busy, so that might be part of it. I also recall he said that before LBII kicked off the dedicated mig shooters were in E's while the bombers and Weasel support were in D's, with the Weasels in G's. Of course I'm going by memory so I could be badly wrong.

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    3. Also IIRC they all took AIM-9's and AIM-7's to the party.

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    4. My comment wasn't intended as a challenge to the veracity of the data, more of a respect for his flying ability. To be able, in the midst of a fight, to remember that he can or can't use ailerons, shows quite a bit about Ritchie's airmanship.
      I think what Ras was talking about though were F-105Gs, since according to the universally acknowledged source of verified information Wikipedia, the first F-4G was in operation until 1975.

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    5. wasn't in operation until 1975. Dang!

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    6. The Phantom Weasels in SE Asia flew the F-4C, 36 were converted from regular F-4Cs to be Weasels (Wild Weasel IV program IIRC). The first F-4G flew in 1975 (Wild Weasel V program), they were placed in squadron service in 1978, first saw combat in Desert Storm.

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    7. I do believe that the 'Winder was the missile of choice as the early Sparrows weren't that reliable. But yeah, if you were going Up North, you brought 7s and 9s. On Kadena (Kunsan too I think) we usually had an ECM pod in the left front AIM-7 missile well.

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    8. See what happens when a navy guy (well, this navy guy) wings it? And no challenge intended. Got my attention too.

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    9. What's amazing is how anyone could seamlessly switch between this:
      http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/aircraft/images/0/08/F4D-1_Skyray.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20130313000702

      and this:
      https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9e/F-4E_52TFW_Nov1984.jpeg

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    10. It seems unusual to have mixed aircraft types in a squadron. Perhaps, like Juvat mentioned the other day, sometimes you have to "borrow" another squadron's birds. (As long as you bring them back in one piece, with full tanks of gas.)

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    11. I'm sorry, but the Skyray is one fugly airplane.

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    12. The irony there made me laugh with glee!

      google "double ugly"

      https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=double%20ugly

      ;)

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    13. Yup, one popular nickname for the Phantom was "Double Ugly."

      A certain website (of which more will be revealed tomorrow) gives the Grumman EA-6B Prowler the same nickname.

      ;)

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  4. Can you explain (or blog about) the Rhino designation?

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    1. To my knowledge it was called the Rhino because of its "prodigious nose and rhinoceros-like toughness."

      I had no idea it was called the Rhino until long after I retired. The F/A-18E/F is also called the Rhino. (For reasons unclear to me.)

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    2. I unsuccessfully tried to find images, but Safety and Weapons magazines the USAF put out in the 70s and 80s would have cartoons of F-4 with a rhino head for the nose. Flying it fast and down low, I kinda felt like I was in a rhino stampede, but I think Sarge's "prodigious nose and rhinoceros-like toughness." is probably accurate.

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    3. I have seen crew cartoons where the pilot and WSO are both rhinos. I'll try and find one.

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  5. Those Skyhawks were a blast to fly in... :-)

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  6. Perfect end to the day seeing F-4's especially from the Triple Nickle, brings back some great memories.
    I never met Richie but talked to DeBellevue many times before he was famous. He like to talk to us
    Gorilla's about the radar. He was actually interested in learning how it worked instead of just using it.
    I have a pic somewhere of the pilot and wizzo as rhino's if you're interested.

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