Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Phantom Memories

F-4C - We had a squadron of these on Okinawa.
As many of you know, I spent my first few years in an Air Force uniform maintaining the Weapons Control Systems on board the F-4C and F-4D Phantom II.

Lately I've come across a number of interesting sites with lots of cool Phantom information. Well, it's cool to me, many others as well (apparently).

Now the Navy has the NATOPS, their version of a flight manual. (I've seen the one for the Super Hornet, heavy stuff, don't know how The WSO and Big Time keep it all straight in their heads!) In  the Air Force we had the Dash-1, as we flightline gorillas referred to it. Here's the front page for my old jet (Virgil and Juvat no doubt still remember this):

Want a copy? Go here, prices vary based on your desired media, but it's around $50.
So what are some of the differences between the F-4C, F-4D and the F-4E? I'm glad you asked (heh) here's a table from the Dash-1:

The Weapon Control Systems (WCS) on the F-4 were comprised of the Radar Set, the Intercept Computer and the Optical Sight (gun sight). About the only thing we could do with the gun sight was replace the bulb. Which I wrote about here. Most of the WCS equipment on the F-4E was solid state, much of that in the Cs and Ds was vacuum tubes. (No doubt all my readers in VFA-2, I think there are 3 of 'em, including The WSO, are no doubt wondering what a vacuum tube is. If I know Bubbles, he's already Googled it and is regaling his squadron mates with that information. They will, no doubt, mock him afterwards.)

Here's some cockpit layout stuff from the Dash-1, these diagrams brought back a lot of memories (not all of them pleasant mind you).

Main instrument panel, front cockpit

Left and Right consoles, front cockpit

Main instrument panel, rear cockpit

Left and Right consoles, rear cockpit

I spent hundreds of hours in both cockpits. Tweaking, aligning, troubleshooting, staring off into space... Um, yeah. Moving right along.

Lots of stuff on an aircraft that can kill you, even when it's not in the air. Follow the instructions in the tech orders (T.O.s as we called 'em) and obey all the safety stuff you had pounded into you in tech school and you'd be fine. If you really paid attention, you got good at it. Then those lofty personages called "air crew" might even deign to speak with you.

Especially if you're buying.

Phantom drivers and their WSOs will not turn down strong beverages as a rule. Particularly when it's paid for by someone else.

Truth be told, I've had more free beer from the crews than I ever bought them. Of course, that was back in the old days. While drinking was not "encouraged" (per se), reasonable amounts of alcohol were not frowned upon. (As long as you didn't drink and drive. Hell, on Okinawa, few of us had cars. In Korea, nobody had a car. No one ever got in trouble riding the bus drunk! Oh, wait... Nope, that's a story for another day.)

So look this stuff over. We shall speak of it again.

And yes, much of this will be on the final.

(WHAT? There's a test? Just kidding, BTM, just kidding...)

AN/APQ-109A Radar System
(System is on, you can see the feedhorn nutating. That's radar talk...)

Same radar system in the shop, we'd use this to check out parts brought in from the jets.
It was easier to troubleshoot in the shop, not to mention being warmer/dryer/less noisy!

Front seat left, rear seat right

All dressed up and ready to party!
4 AIM-7s, 4 AIM-9s, 20mm gun on the centerline, two wing tanks.
Get some!

(It's an RAF Phantom, for those who simply must know.)


  1. MAN! Did that bring back some memories! And some new information, Hydraulic Wing Fold? Never knew that, wonder if it worked?

    1. Figured you'd get a kick out of this stuff.

      Yes. the Hydraulic Wing Fold worked, not sure if the aircrew would do that, ever.

      Crew chiefs would fold the wings on Okinawa when the birds had to go into the hangar (engine change, periodic maintenance, etc.) Other than that (as we weren't on a carrier) no need to normally fold the wings.

    2. Didn't realize they had the whole 565 pages of the Dash-1 at that site. Didn't miss a lick reciting the out of control bold face 31 years (sometime this month) out of the Jet. Guess the training worked.

    3. Damn! After 31 years? I am impressed.

  2. Wow, great memories, thanks for the flashback. Have you ever come across a picture of a Phantom dressed with a full load of Aim- 4 ' s and Aim-7's?

    1. Well, here's a link to an E-model with a bunch of AIM-4s and AIM-7s.

  3. Ooh... ooh!
    Solid state versus vacuum tubes ...and a magnetron!!!
    ...and ...and a superhetrodyne receiver.

    Look that up, Bubbles!

    I think I may be congering up a post ...eventually.

    1. Go get 'em Skip!

      (I look forward to your radar-themed post, you being an old-timey scope guy!)

  4. Great stuff! Thanks for posting. I can remember all of the hulabalu about the wing fold when we picked them up at the factory. I think they finally disabled the thing so that one couldn't do it inside the cockpit, but the CC could somewhere down under. Lots of paranoia in the first days. I remember getting sent home from an air to air refueling training mission because my retractable step came down. Should I have been worried? Anyone? Anyone? Seems to me to be a safer condition that flying around 37MM black smoke puffs.

    1. If you're a "fan" of boarding ladders on the F-4, go read this. You'll really appreciate the last photo on that post. Let's just say, you're not alone with having an IABLD (Inadvertent Aerial Boarding Ladder Deployment).

  5. Great birds, and thanks for the memories...

    1. Any time Cajun. I aim to please. (Pun intended.)


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