The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor and 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 air arms.
The Phantom is a large fighter with a top speed of over Mach 2.2. It can carry more than 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 initially designed without an internal cannon. Later models incorporated an 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.
The F-4 was used extensively during the Vietnam War. It served as the principal air superiority fighter for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps and became important in the ground-attack and aerial reconnaissance roles late in the war. During the Vietnam War, one U.S. Air Force pilot, two weapon systems officers (WSOs), one U.S. Navy pilot and one radar intercept officer (RIO) became aces by achieving five aerial kills against enemy fighter aircraft. 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 Fighting Falcon in the U.S. Air Force, the F-14 Tomcat in the U.S. Navy, and the F/A-18 Hornet in the U.S. Navy and 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, acquired before the fall of the Shah, in the Iran–Iraq War. Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981, with a total of 5,195 built, making it the most produced American supersonic military aircraft. As of 2018, 60 years after its first flight, the F-4 remains in service with Iran, Japan, South Korea, Greece, and Turkey. The aircraft has most recently been in service against the Islamic State group in the Middle East.
- Crew: 2
- Length: 63 ft 0 in (19.2 m)
- Wingspan: 38 ft 5 in (11.7 m)
- Height: 16 ft 5 in (5 m)
- Wing area: 530 sq ft (49.2 m2)
- Aspect ratio: 2.77
- Airfoil: NACA 0006.4–64 root, NACA 0003-64 tip
- Empty weight: 30,328 lb (13,757 kg)
- Gross weight: 41,500 lb (18,824 kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 61,795 lb (28,030 kg)
- Maximum landing weight: 36,831 lb (16,706 kg)
- Fuel capacity: 1,994 US gal (1,660 imp gal; 7,550 l) internal, 3,335 US gal (2,777 imp gal; 12,620 l) with 2x 370 US gal (310 imp gal; 1,400 l) external tanks on the outer wing hardpoints and either a 600 or 610 US gal (500 or 510 imp gal; 2,300 or 2,300 l) tank for the center-line station.
- Powerplant: 2 × General Electric J79-GE-17A after-burning turbojet engines, 11,905 lbf (52.96 kN) thrust each dry, 17,845 lbf (79.38 kN) with afterburner
- Maximum speed: 1,280 kn (1,470 mph, 2,370 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,000 m)
- Maximum speed: Mach 2.23
- Cruise speed: 510 kn (580 mph, 940 km/h)
- Combat range: 370 nmi (420 mi, 680 km)
- Ferry range: 1,457 nmi (1,677 mi, 2,699 km)
- Service ceiling: 60,000 ft (18,000 m)
- Rate of climb: 41,300 ft/min (210 m/s)
- Lift-to-drag: 8.58
- Wing loading: 78 lb/sq ft (380 kg/m2)
- Thrust/weight: 0.86 at loaded weight, 0.58 at MTOW
- Takeoff roll: 4,490 ft (1,370 m) at 53,814 lb (24,410 kg)
- Landing roll: 3,680 ft (1,120 m) at 36,831 lb (16,706 kg)
Photos credits: Spot'Air
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