Friday, August 23, 2013

The Friday Flyby - 23 August

Collings Foundation F-4C
If you haven't figured it out yet, I'll tell you again, back in the day, I was a Phantom Phixer. One of the legions of men and women in the Air Force, Navy and Marines who spent their days (and nights, sometimes both!) maintaining and servicing the pride of McDonnell-Douglas, the F-4 Phantom II.

Some don't find her all that pretty but to me, she's drop-dead gorgeous. So boys and girls take a seat and behold this icon of aviation history. Juvat and Virgil Xenophon? Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave.

Uh, I think we have the right of way here...
The Phantom is living proof that if you strap big enough engines on, you can make damn near anything fly!

From Wikipedia:
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem, two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor fighter/fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. It first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable, it was also adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force, 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 2.2. It can carry over 18,000 pounds (8,400 kg) of weapons on nine external hardpoints, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs. The F-4, like other interceptors of its time, was designed without an internal cannon. Later models incorporated a M61 Vulcan rotary cannon. Beginning in 1959 it set 15 world records for in-flight performance, including an absolute speed record, and an absolute altitude record.

During the Vietnam War the F-4 was used extensively; it served as the principal air superiority fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, and became important in the ground-attack and reconnaissance roles late in the war. The Phantom has the distinction of being the last U.S. fighter flown to attain ace 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 (suppression of enemy air defenses) roles in the 1991 Gulf War, finally leaving service in 1996. It was also the only aircraft used by both U.S. flight demonstration teams: the USAF Thunderbirds (F-4E) and the US Navy Blue Angels (F-4J). The F-4 was also operated by the armed forces of 11 other nations. Israeli Phantoms saw extensive combat in several Arab–Israeli conflicts, while Iran 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 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.
Bye-bye MiG!

The real deal, we got to watch this footage in Tech School, way back in the day when we were just Phantom Phixer wannabes.

That's an AIM-7 Sparrow coming off the rail in the film, but the gun sight picture is incorrect unless the pilot was in boresight with interlocks off. The cognoscenti will know this. By the way, that is the "pipper" that I mentioned here

But wait, there's more (Warning! Kinda cheesy music alert.)

If the time machine ever gets invented, I'm going to buy a crap ton of GoPro cameras, head back in time and give them to those old-timey Phantom Phlyers. (My way of apologizing for the blurry videos above, this was way before HD. No doubt my kids would be stunned to learn we even had color film back then!)

Two of my personal heroes. Robin Olds and Steve Ritchie. What I like to call Phamous Phantom Phlyers.

And what General Ritchie said about Colonel Olds? Ditto from this Old AF Sarge.

Phantoms Do It In the Dark!
Another Connie Phantom

Marine Recce Birds
Luftwaffe Phantoms

Phantom on Deck!

Charlie, Loaded for Bear
Nice Paint Job!

Left: Pilot's Cockpit, Right: WSO's Cockpit
(I Got to Play in Both)

Got This Pic From my Buddy Gary, Another Old Phantom Phixer
This is the "Honest to God" Radar Cal Hangar at Kunsan AB, Korea
Where I Spent Four Awesome Years,
Phixing Phantoms
Can Ivan Come Out and Play?
(Может Иван выйти и играть?)

Yes, Phantoms, love them I do. Miss them? Yes, yes I do.


  1. Thanks,Great Pics. Nice reference to the McD theory of Aerospace Engineering. "Put big enough engines on it even a brick will fly".
    Saw a show on TV where they talked about converting F-4s into drones. They had a seen where the spokesman (Bob Kay a squadron mate of mine) talking about the program while standing in front of one. Brought my heart to my throat when I saw the Tail Number. It had had my name on the cockpit when it was at Moody. (For the non-fighter pilots in the group, I would have said it was My Jet, but OldAFSarge would have countered with "No, the crew chief just loaned HIS jet to you for an hour or two")

    1. Yeah, that must have been something.

      And crew chiefs, ya gotta love 'em.

  2. Sorry about that, must have got Parkinsons on the mouse button.

    1. I cleaned up your mess.

      Believe me, I've been there, done that.

  3. Beautiful. Those things just radiated power and awesomeness.

    I met Steve Ritchie two years ago. Really nice guy.

    1. The Phantom will always be a favorite of mine. And not just because I was around them for seven years. It's just an awesome jet.

      I've heard that about BGen Ritchie.

    2. He stood so tall that I didn't realize until I was looking at a picture that we were in together how short he really is. The man personifies "command presence".

    3. Interesting tidbit. All aces seem ten feet tall to me.

  4. You ALMOST make me wish I'd have played with jets. Almost, but not quite. ;-)

    1. Of course one tends to forget the long hours, the nasty weather and the pressure to get a bird back to flight status.

      It all seems like beer and skittles looking back. (But really, I do know better.)

  5. I had the sister of Ritchie's backseater, Chuck Debellevue (Col USAF (Ret)) in an undergrad Poli-Sci class I taught as a TA at the time they made ACE together where she was an undergrad at the then Univ of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette, La (now Univ of Louisiana-Lafayette...ugh...the U La-Las) where I was getting my MA after getting out of the AF. Renee was right proud of big brother..

    1. Man, small world. Back in my day we all knew the names Steve Ritchie and Chuck DeBellevue. That's one of the reasons that tail number 7463 occupies a spot in the masthead. That was their bird, those red stars on the side, they put 'em there. (Of course, I also worked on that jet at Kadena and Kunsan. So yeah, I'm fond of her.) And now she's on display at the Academy. The 7463 that the Collings Foundation flies is just painted to look like the "real" 7463. Same with their C-model, 7680 at the top of this post, she got her star from Robin Olds and his GIB, 1Lt C. Clifton. Unfortunately the actual bird was lost over SE Asia in '67. 7680 also had another MiG kill with Lt Col. F. A. Haeffner in the front seat and 1st Lt M R. Bever in the pit (433rd TFS). Not sure why the Collings' bird doesn't have a second red star.

      If you ever want to find out about a jet you flew, check out the link near the bottom of my sidebar "Aircraft Serial Numbers". Lists damn near every bird the USAF ever flew, from 1908 onwards (they claim). It's a pretty neat reference.

  6. Oh man, what a great post. Full of Phantom goodness!

  7. You have the best looking blog on the net, no doubt. I wrote a piece long ago on how good weapons should also look cool. The F-4, in the opinion of somebody with no right to have an opinion on such matters, was/is the coolest looking aeroplane in history. It just reeked testosterone-fueled menace.

    1. Thanks DM, I really appreciate it.

      "Testosterone-fueled menace"...

      Nice! (I will, no doubt, use that in the future.)


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