Watch: RF-4C Cockpit Footage Of Its Wingman Getting Destroyed By A North Vietnamese SA-2
The following video is a recording from an RF-4C Phantom (callsign Dodge 1). As we mentioned in our previous article, the RF-4C was an unarmed photographic reconnaissance variant of the Phantom and was used extensively for recon missions during the Vietnamese war. This video shows the wingman of the above aircraft (callsign Dodge 2) being destroyed by an SA-2 surface-to-air missile.
Capt Roger Ernest Behnfeldt and Captain Tamotsu Shingaki were the 2 pilots flying the RF-4C Dodge 2 which was destroyed. It is one of the worst experiences a wingman can experience in his carrier. RF-4C Phantom tail #69-0355 was hit and went down approximately 8 mi. North East of Bac Giang NVN. This incident happened during the operation “Vietnam Ceasefire” while this aircraft was serving under the 14th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron of the 432nd TFW based at Udorn RTFAFB, Thailand.
Dodge 2B pilot the weapons systems officer Captain Shingaki was captured by the Peoples’ Army of Vietnam but was released on Mar. 29, 1973. Capt Behnfeldt was declared Missing In Action and after 15 years his remains were recovered in 1987.
In 1960, United States Air Force realized that they need more tactical reconnaissance aircraft to support the RF-101 fleet they already had. Then they decided to modify the F-4C Phantom fighters and develop them into the RF-4C in 1962. The RF-4C made its initial flight on May 18, 1964, and a total of 499 aircraft were built.
The RF-4C has a longer more pointed nose than the general F-4 Phantoms which accommodates a variety of cameras in 3 camera stations. This aircraft could collect intelligence at both high and low altitudes and also during both day and night. RF-4C didn’t carry any weapons in the beginning, but later they were fitted with four AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles for defense.
The 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was the first unit to operate the RF-4Cs and they were deployed to Southeast Asia in 1965 to provide photographic reconnaissance of conflicts in South Vietnam. Later RF-4Cs flew recon missions in a few important operations such as Desert Storm in Iraq. In the year 1995, the United States Air Force retired all the RF-4Cs.