During 1954 to 1957, the McDonnell-Douglas Aircraft Company designed the Phantom II, perhaps the most well-known and beloved American jet fighter of the post-World War II era. The Phantom II came from a long line of St. Louis built naval fighters which included the FH-1 Phantom, the F2 Banshee, the F3D Skyknight and the F3H Demon. First envisioned as an attack aircraft armed with 20mm cannons, the Phantom II's design was changed into a gun-less, all-weather interceptor fitted with the most advanced radar system and air-to-air missiles of the day. The F-4 prototype first flew on May 27,1958. It soon demonstrated unprecedented performance and was ordered into production for use in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
The first production version, the F-4A, had tandem seats for the pilot and radar intercept officer (RIO) and was armed with four AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles. Production of the Phantom II began in volume with the F-4B, a variant featuring raised cockpits, an enlarged canopy and a larger nose cone for additional radar equipment. Eventually, the F-4A and F-4B established more world records for speed, rate of climb and altitude than any other aircraft in history. In a 1961 competition the F-4B out-performed all contemporary U.S. Air Force fighters by a wide margin. In March 1962, the Air Force adopted the F-4C for use in 16 of its 23 Tactical Air Command wings.
The F-4 has seen combat all over the world but most notably in Vietnam, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. In Vietnam the F-4 proved itself as the definitive multi-role fighter. The Phantom replaced the Republic F-105 as a tactical bomber, interdicted North Vietnamese Army supply lines night and day and fought against North Vietnamese MiGs. Additionally, specially adapted Phantoms were used on photo-reconnaissance missions and or in the Wild Weasel role, hunting enemy surface-to-missile (SAM) units and anti-aircraft guns. During Desert Storm, the F-4 served as the Air Force's primary air defense suppression aircraft, nearly 30 years after it first entered service!
During its long career, the F-4 Phantom has been used in every conceivable role: fighter, interceptor, fighter/bomber, electronic counter measures, reconnaissance, tanker and target drone. The F-4 is the only aircraft to be flown by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy's Blue Angels at the same time. When production of the F-4 ended in 1979, 5,195 Phantoms had been built in 17 major variants. The F-4C Phantom on display at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum is on loan to the Frontiers of Flight Museum from the National Museum of the USAF. The aircraft is a combat veteran and carries the same colors it wore on May 20,1967 when Lt. Bob Titus and 1st Lt. Milan Zimer shot down a MiG-21 over Vietnam.
|2 General Electric J-79-GE-15 turbojets 17,000 lbs. of thrust each|
|ARMAMENT||Up to 16,000 lbs. of air-to-air missiles, nuclear or conventional bombs, rockets, air-to-ground missiles or gun pods|
|WING SPAN||38 feet, 5 inches|
|LENGTH||58 feet, 2 inches|
|HEIGHT||16 feet, 6 inches|
|MAX TAKEOFF WEIGHT||54,600 pounds|
|MANUFACTURED BY||McDonnell-Douglas Aircraft|
|MUSEUM'S AIRCRAFT BUILT||1964|
|ON DISPLAY AT||Cavanaugh Flight Museum, Addison Airport (KADS), Dallas, Texas|
|MAXIMUM SPEED||1,400 m.p.h.|
|RANGE W/EXTERNAL TANKS||1,750 miles|
|SERVICE CEILING||59,600 feet|