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McDonnell Douglas F-4C Phantom II

History of the F-4C Phantom II

The F-4C aircraft entered service during the Vietnam War for air-to-ground attack missions. The F-4 was a prolific airframe, with 5,069 produced, that had several “firsts.” For example, the F-4C was the first United States Air Force (USAF) aircraft to be downed by a surface-to-air missile and was the first fighter-interceptor able to identify, intercept and destroy any target that came into the range of its radar.

McDonnell Douglas F-4C Phantom II

Serial Number: 64-0664

Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas

Crew: Two

Engines: Two General Electric J79-GE-15 turbojets; 17,000 pounds thrust each in afterburner

Wingspan: 38 feet 5 inches (27 feet 7 inches folded)

Length: 58 feet 3 inches

Height: 16 feet 6 inches

Weight: 28,000 pounds (empty); 58,000 pounds (maximum)

Speed: 590 mph at 35,000 feet (cruising); 1,400 mph at 40,000 feet (maximum)

Range: 1,750 miles ferry mission with one 600-gallon and two 370-gallons

Service Ceiling: 59,600 feet

Armament: Up to 16,000 pounds of externally-carried, nuclear or conventional bombs, missiles, rockets or 20mm cannon pods

Cost: $2,200,000 (approximate)

The F-4C Phantom II at Hill Air Force Base

In 1962, the Ogden Air Materiel Area was designated as the System Support Manager for the USAF’s new F-4 aircraft, which included support to allied countries for this airframe in the subsequent decades. By 1966, the first F-4C was inducted into Hill Air Force Base maintenance shops. Once assigned to Hill Air Force Base, the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing flew F-4s from 1976 until 1980 when the unit’s F-16 conversion was complete.

The F-4C was accepted into the USAF in March 1965. Originally it was retained by the manufacturer for flight testing but was assigned to the Air Force Missile Development Center, Air Force Systems Command at Holloman Air Force Base in December 1966.

The aircraft returned to McDonnel-Douglas in May 1967 where it spent two years before being relocated to the Air Force Armament Test Center at Eglin Air Force Base in March 1969. During its service at Eglin, the F-4C was deployed to Edwards Air Force Base before going back to McDonnell-Douglas in October 1977.

In October 1980, the aircraft was transferred to Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, then was transferred to McDonnell-Douglas before moving to the Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill Air Force Base in August 1981. At Hill, the aircraft flew flight test and weapons missions until March 1988 when it was dropped from the active Air Force inventory and transferred to museum status. The aircraft was placed on static display at the Officers’ Club.

In the Spring of 2005, the State of Utah awarded Funding to the Aerospace Heritage Foundation of Utah for the aircraft to be relocated to a new pedestal on the Museum grounds. The aircraft was repainted and relocated to Hill Aerospace Museum in the Fall of 2006.

Discover answers to the following questions about the F-4C Phantom II.

Was the F-4 Phantom a good plane?

A subjective question, the F-4 was an incredibly advanced and powerful aircraft, able to fly over Mach 2.2 while carrying 18,000 pounds of weapons. Though initial models of the aircraft suffered from shortcomings, eventually the Phantom found its way to become a highly respected frontline fighter.

Are there any F-4 Phantoms still flying?

Of the nearly 5,200 Phantoms built between 1958 and 1981, the vast majority were retired or turned into targeting drones for modern, air-to-air missile testing. However, the F-4 is still flown by a number of air forces, including Greece, Iran, South Korea and Turkey.

What did the F-4 Phantom do?

The Phantom was used primarily as an interceptor during the Vietnam War, with secondary roles as a fighter-bomber.

Did the F-4 Phantom have a gun?

Originally the F-4 was not armed with an internal weapon. This was due, at the time, to the belief that modern warfare would take place at high speeds and long range, requiring the use of missiles exclusively. It was believed that fighters would never enter within dog-fighting ranges, so standoff weapons were left off.

Why was arming the F-4 with missiles and no guns a mistake?

American military doctrine at the time was focused on fighting a nuclear war with their then-primary adversary, the Soviet Union. The thinking was fast, missile firing aircraft would have no need for highly maneuverable, dog fighting. This proved disastrous in the close air war of the Vietnam era.

What plane replaced the F-4 Phantom?

By the mid-1970s and 80s, more modern aircraft like the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon began to replace the F-4.

When was the last F-4 Phantom built?

The Phantom ended production in 1981 after just over 20 years, with a total of 5,195 aircraft produced.

Why was the F-4 Phantom retired?

The ever-evolving modern battlefield required the introduction of new, more specialized and advanced aircraft to take over for the aged F-4. However, the many hard-learned lessons over the course of numerous engagements by the Phantom, helped shaped modern airframes for decades.

How fast does the F-4 Phantom fly?

The twin-engine interceptor, fighter-bomber has a top speed of just over Mach 2.2, which is approximately 1,688 miles per hour.