The F-4 Phantom II was a long-range, fighter-interceptor aircraft used by the US Navy, Marine Corps ,and US Air Force in Vietnam and during the Cold War period. Also employed in the ground-attack role, it was the fastest, the most reliable and effective fighter-bomber in US arsenal until the introduction of the F-14 Tomcat in the US Navy and the F-15 Eagle in the US Air Force. The F-4 became operational as a carrier-based fighter, but it would soon be modified to take off from land air strips. It was massively produced, with more than 5,200 aircraft rolling out of the McDonald Aircraft’s factory in St Louis, Missouri, being also acquired by the German, Israeli, Greek, and Spanish air forces. Its two main variants were the F-4A, F-4E, and F-4G Wild Weasel.
The F4 Phantom II was a low-winged, supersonic, jet aircraft, which was powered by two General Electric J79-GE-17A axial compressor turbojets, with their air intake located at the sides of the fuselage. With extensive use of titanium in its airframe, it had unique emmpenage design, with its tailplane bent downward 30º from its horizontal line. The tips of its cropped delta wings were also slightly bent but upward. The F-4 was a two-seat defense fighter, fitted with powerful search and fire control radars. The F-4H variant was the world’s first fighter with self-contained, search and destroy capability.
It performed its first test flight, as the XF-4H-1 prototype, on May 27, 1958, entering service with the US Navy in 1960. The F-4 first saw combat action in the Vietnam War as it was extensively used both as a fighter and bomber. Taking off from the flight deck of USS Constellation (CV-64), the Phantom II conducted its first combat mission in Southeast Asia on August 5, 1964, taking part in Operation Pierce Arrow, a military operation to attack targets in North Vietnam in response to the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. It would also participate in Operations Rolling Thunder and Linebacker.
The Phantom II also carried out reconnaissance missions in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, as well as around the world in the Cold War context. The first deployable F-4’s squadron was the VF-74 Be-Devilers and the first US aircraft to receive the Phantom II was the USS Forrestal (CV-59). The first deployable F-4’s squadron was the VF-74 Be-Devilers and first US aircraft to receive the Phantom II was the USS Forrestal (CV-59). Although it had been replaced by the F-14 in 1974, the F-4 continued to take part in the U.S. military air power throughout 1980s. In service with the Israeli Air Force, it was also successfully used in combat during the War of Attrition against Arab nations, between 1967 and 1970.
One 20mm cannon, four AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles, or four AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, and four AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground tactical missiles.
Wingspan: 11.7 m
Length: 19.2 m
Height: 5 m
Wing area: 49.2 m2
Maximum speed: 2,370 km/h (Mach 2.23)
Range: 2,600 km
Rate of climb: 210 m/s