F-4B/J PHANTOM II gallery

This is one of the few naval F-4H-1F (F-4A) variant that served to establish 16 records of altitude, speed and climb. McDonell manufactured 45 F-4A that were used for testing and training and none participated in combat actions. These faircraft carried the Westinghouse AN/APQ-72 radar and J79-GE-2 and 2A engines. This aircraft was the serial version of the F-4H, which was planned to give names so bizarre like “Satan” or “Mithras”. Finally, the most conventional “Phantom II” was chosen, because “Phantom” name had been given to the McDonell FH-1 fighter.
The F-4B arrived at the US Navy in June 1961 and to the Marines in June 1962, and had significant improvements over the F-4A variant. They carried the General Electric J79-GE-8, 8A and 8B turbojets, and the AN/AJB-3 bombing system. Completing the upgrades, a Texas Instruments AAA-4 Infra-red search and track pod under the nose, modified air intakes and a Westinghouse APQ-72 radar in a larger nose radome were installed.
Almost 650 F-4Bs were delivered to the US Navy and the Marines from 1961, allowing the American Fleet to have an all-weather high performance naval interceptor. They reached a maximum speed of Mach 2.1 at high altitude and Mach 1.2 at sea level. They had an initial climb rate of 8,500 meters per minute, abilities that were truly exceptional for a carrier fighter at that time.
In August 1964, F-4Bs from the USS Constellation’s VF-142 and 143 Squadrons escorted a group of attack aircraft on a mission against North Vietnamese torpedo boats. This was the first operation within the Vietnam War. In 1972, more than 200 F-4Bs were converted to F-4J variant, resulting in the new F-4N variant.
US Navy and Marines operated about 1,264 F-4B and F-4J Phantom II. In 1960, the US Navy’s VF-121 Pacemakers squadron received the first F-4A aircraft. The Marines’s VMFA-314 Black Knights Squadron was the first to receive its F-4B Phantom II in June 1962. This ex-US Navy’s F-4J belongs to the American Air Museum’s collection, wich is located within the Imperial War Museum Duxford, England.
In December 1966, the F-4J, the second naval variant of Phantom II, entered service, and again with many additional improvements. They had installed more powerful General electric J79-GE-10 engines, improved Westinghouse AN/AWG-10 radar and AN/AJB-7 bombing system among others. In addition, improved avionics, new electric systems, a new fire control system, and drooped ailerons and slotted tailplane to reduce approaches speeds.
The improvements added to the F-4J were aimed at improving their combat capabilities, both in the air-to-air fight and in the ground attack. Thanks to a new integrated missile control system, it was the first fighter in the World to have “look-down/shoot-down” capabilities. In principle, the US Navy used the F-4 as an interceptor while the Marines used it for ground support missions, although thanks to the versatility of the aircraft, it was used indistinctly in both roles by both Corps.
US Navy’s Phantom II made a total of 84 combat tours during Vietnam War, suffering the loss of 127 aircraft, 73 in combat actions and 54 in accidents. The victories achieved amounted to 40 in air-to-air combat. The Marines’s Phantom II were used mainly in ground support missions, so their aerial victories were only 3, suffering the loss of 75 aircraft, 4 of them in accidents.
Finally, the Marine’s Phantom II were completely retired in January 1992, when the last F-4S from the Marine Corps Reserve was replaced by the F-18 Hornet. The Navy withdrew their last F-4S belonging to the Naval Reserve in 1987, when they were replaced by F-14s. Nevertheless, the QF-4Bs unmanned supersonic target drones, (like this one in the image), remained in service until 2004.
After Falklands War, the British deployed some Phantom II on the island, forming the 23 Squadron. This forced the RAF to buy 15 ex-US Navy F-4J to replace the aircrafts deployed in Stanley. They were modified to F-4S variant, capable of carrying Skyflash air-to-air missiles and SUU-23A gun pods. The biggest difference with the F-4K and M, was that F-4J (UK), (as they were designated), carried the American GE J79-10B engines instead of the Rolls-Royce Spey. These aircraft served with the 74 Squadron at RAF Wattisham from October 1984 until January 31, 1991.

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