This Is Why The F-4 Phantom II Is Still Keeps Flying
McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a fighter aircraft with an amazing airframe that the United States Air Force had. During its 40+ years of service, it served U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps. Phantom II is an all-weather, supersonic jet inceptor and a fighter bomber. The F-4’s adaptability, paired with its commendable, and consistent performance made it the most produced American supersonic fighter with 5,195 units built.
Phantom’s Amazing Records
After the F-4 Phantom II was introduced in 1960 it could set 16 different performance records for speed and altitude. By the time the F-4 was operational, it was ahead of other fighter aircraft. Before the F-15 Eagle set a new record, the F-4’s top speed record remained unbeaten till 1975. The top speed of the Phantom was Mach 2.2 and “Speed is life” was the slogan of the Phantom pilots. That kind of speed is remarkable considering it is 63 feet long and has a max takeoff weight of 61,000 pounds. Phantoms two General Electric J79 engines enable a speed of 1,400 mph, top altitude of 60,000 feet, and a climbing rate of 41,300 feet per minute.
However, the F-4s were not particularly maneuverable and enemy MiGs could outrun the F-4s most of the time. Although the F-4s were not specifically designed for dogfighting F-4s could fire radar-guided missiles at long ranges. The original phantom variants didn’t even have a canon and had only 9 hardpoints that could carry more than 9 tons of weapons. Not including an internal canon was a mistake. John Chesire, who flew 197 combat missions in the F-4 during the Vietnamese war said once,
“That was the biggest mistake on the F-4, Bullets are cheap and tend to go where you aim them. I needed a gun, and I really wished I had one.”
Although the F-4 had some loose ends, it was still credited with shooting down 107 MiG fighter aircraft in Vietnam. After nearly forty years F-4’s active duty service ended in 1996. However, the F-4s still keep flying in other countries. Greece operates 18 F-4s out of Andravida Air Base. South Korea still has 27 F-4Es. Turkey has 54. And Iran operates 62 F-4s, alongside their still-running F-14 Tomcats.