McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II

TypeInterceptor fighter, fighter-bomber
Country of originUnited States
ManufacturerMcDonnell Aircraft /McDonnell Douglas
First flight27 May 1958
Introduced30 December 1960
Numbers built5,195
Unit costsUS$2.4 million when new (F-4E)
Max speedMaximum speed: Mach 2.23 (1,472 mph, 2,370 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m)
Cruise speed: 506 kn (585 mph, 940 km/h)
Max rangeCombat radius: 367 nmi (422 mi, 680 km)
Ferry range: 1,403 nmi (1,615 mi, 2,600 km) with 3 external fuel tanks
Service ceiling: 60,000 ft (18,300 m)
DimensionsLength: 63 ft 0 in (19.2 m)
Wingspan: 38 ft 4.5 in (11.7 m)
Height: 16 ft 6 in (5.0 m)
Wing area: 530.0 ft² (49.2 m²)
WeightEmpty weight: 30,328 lb (13,757 kg)
Loaded weight: 41,500 lb (18,825 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 61,795 lb (28,030 kg)
Powerplant2 x General Electric J79-GE-17A axial compressor turbojets, 17,845 lbf (79.4 kN) each
ArmamentUp to 18,650 lb (8,480 kg) of weapons on nine external hardpoints, including general purpose bombs, cluster bombs, TV- and laser-guided bombs, rocket pods (UK Phantoms 6 x Matra rocket pods with 18 x SNEB 68 mm rockets each), air-to-ground missiles, anti-runway weapons, anti-ship missiles, targeting pods, reconnaissance pods, and nuclear weapons. Baggage pods and external fuel tanks may also be carried.

4x AIM-7 Sparrow in fuselage recesses plus 4x× AIM-9 Sidewinders on wing pylons; upgraded Hellenic F-4E and German F-4F ICE carry AIM-120 AMRAAM, Japanese F-4EJ Kai carry AAM-3, Hellenic F-4E will carry IRIS-T in future. Iranian F-4s could potentially carry Russian and Chinese missiles. UK Phantoms carried Skyflash missiles

1x 20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan 6-barreled gatling cannon, 640 rounds
4x AIM-9 Sidewinder, Python-3 (F-4 Kurnass 2000), IRIS-T (F-4E AUP Hellenic Air Force)
4x AIM-7 Sparrow, AAM-3(F-4EJ Kai)
4x AIM-120 AMRAAM for F-4F ICE, F-4E AUP (Hellenic Air Force)
6x AGM-65 Maverick
4x AGM-62 Walleye
4x AGM-45 Shrike, AGM-88 HARM, AGM-78 Standard ARM
4x GBU-15
18x Mk.82, GBU-12
5x Mk.84, GBU-10, GBU-14
18x CBU-87, CBU-89, CBU-58
Nuclear weapons, including the B28EX, B61, B43 and B57
OperatorsFormer Operators:
Australia, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, United States

Current Operators:
Egypt, Greece, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Turkey

The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is one of famous American-built fighter-bomber. Actually the F-4 also has a role as interceptor fighter. The tandem two-seat, long-range supersonic, all-weather and twin-engined combat aircraft saw combats throughout Vietnam War and other conflicts in the world, including the 1991 Gulf War.

The fighter-bomber was originally developed for the United States Navy and entered service for the first time in 1960. Still, since the F-4 proved to be a reliable military aircraft performing its roles, the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and the United States Air Force (USAF) also operated the F-4 Phantom II. The fighter-bomber also served with several other military forces in the world, including Royal Australian Air Force, Egyptian Air Force, Luftwaffe, Hellenic Air Force, Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, Israeli Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Republic of Korea Air Force, Spanish Air Force, Turkish Air Force, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm. Two famous aerobatic teams also used the Phantom II, they are the USAF Thunderbirds (F-4E) and the US Navy Blue Angels (F-4J).

The United States kept operating the Phantom II to perform reconnaissance and Wild Weasel (suppression of enemy air defenses/SEAD) missions in the 1991 Gulf War and years afterward until the fighter-bomber retired in 1996 and gradually replaced by the F-14 Tomcat, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon and F/A-18 Hornet. A total of 5,195 F-4s were built, making the Mach 2.2 fighter-bomber as one of the most produced American supersonic military aircraft.

The Development and Design of F-4

Around 1952, the U.S. Navy was in need for a new and different aircraft type: an attack fighter. McDonnell Aircraft then developed an attack fighter based on the airframe of F3H Demon naval fighter. When the design was ready, McDonnell proposed the model called Super Demon, designated F3H-G/H, to the U.S. Navy. However, the Navy felt that the upcoming Grumman XF9F-9 and Vought XF8U-1 already met their needs for supersonic fighters.

McDonnell continued their development leading to an all-weather fighter-bomber with YAH-1 as the first prototype. In July 1955, the Navy eventually was interested to order the manufacturer’s design and ordered two XF4H-1 test aircraft and three YF4H-1 pre-production fighters. In May 1958, the Phantom took its first flight and on 17 December 1958 the F4H won the Navy’s requirements beating its rivals.

More improvements were made for the tandem-seat fighter bomber and as a naval fighter, the Phantom was surely capable of operating onboard aircraft carriers. The F-4 greatly featured the use of titanium in its airframe.

The F-4 was capable to carry up to 18,650 pounds (8,480 kg) of weapons, including air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and unguided, guided, and nuclear bombs. Similar to other interceptors of its day, the F-4 was designed without an internal cannon. Later in 1967, the USAF’s F-4 started to be armed with a 20 mm (.79 in) M61 Vulcan Gatling cannon.

The Variants of F-4 Phantom II

Following are the variants of F-4 Phantom II:

  • F-4A, B, J, N and S: Variants for the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marines.
  • F-110 Spectre, F-4C, D and E: Variants for the U.S. Air Force. F-4E was armed with an internal M61 Vulcan cannon. The F-4D and E were the most produced, numerously exported, and also extensively operated under the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) U.S. air defense system.
  • F-4G Wild Weasel V: A dedicated SEAD variant with updated radar and avionics, converted from F-4E.
  • F-4K and M: Variants for the British military re-engined with Rolls-Royce Spey turbofans.
  • F-4EJ: Simplified F-4E exported to and license-built in Japan.
  • F-4F: Simplified F-4E exported to Germany.
  • RF-4B, C, and E: Tactical reconnaissance variants.

McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II videos

The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II


The F-4 “Phantom II” Supersonic Fighter/Bomber Jet – McDonnell Douglas Documentary 1964

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