McDonnell F-4A Phantom II "Sageburner"

McDonnell F-4A Phantom II "Sageburner"

     

Some aircraft are remembered for the large number produced, others for their length of time in service, and others for their ability to perform their mission. When one aircraft is known to be one of the leaders in all three categories, it stands out among others. The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is such an aircraft.

During the period 1959 to 1969, the F4H and its derivatives established many altitude and speed records. Like the F-4B, the F-4C had no built-in gun but carried Sparrow missiles as its primary attack weapon. The F-4J was the last fighter version to be placed in quantity production for the US Navy and Marine Corps.

In 1968 the Navy chose the F-4J for its "Blue Angels" flight demonstration team and in 1969 the USAF chose the F-4E for its "Thunderbird" team. England, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Australia, Israel, Japan, Greece, Turkey, and West Germany have purchased the F-4. The F-4E was the model preferred by overseas air forces.

In 1961, as part of the commemoration of 50 years of Naval Aviation, the Navy sponsored a project known as Sageburner. This project was designed to set new speed records at low altitudes flying F-4A Phantoms (F4H-1). On May 18, the initial attempt ended in tragedy when Commander J. L. Felsman was killed when pitch dampener failure led to pilot-induced oscillations (PIO), causing his Phantom to break up in flight and explode. The second attempt to set a new low-altitude speed record succeeded on August 28, 1961, when Lt. Huntington Hardisty (pilot) and Lt. Earl De Esch (RIO) flew F4H-1F BuNo 145307 at an average speed of 902.760 mph over a 3 km low-altitude course at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The maximum altitude reached during this flight was only 125 feet, fully living up to the name of the project-Sageburner. The F-4A (BuNo 145307) was later turned over to the National Air and Space Museum and is preserved in storage at the Paul Garber Restoration Facility at Suitland, Maryland.

Physical Description:
Supersonic, two-seat (tandem), twin afterburning engine (J-79-GE-8 turbojet), all-weather fighter. Multiple variants.

Country of Origin
United States of America

Manufacturer
McDonnell Aircraft Corp.

Date
1958

Type
CRAFT-Aircraft

Dimensions
Overall: 16ft 5in., 54599.5lb. (5.004m, 24766.2kg)
Other: 16ft 5in. x 62ft 11in. x 38ft 5in. (5.004m x 19.177m x 11.709m)

Some aircraft are remembered for the large number produced, others for their length of time in service, and others for their ability to perform their mission. When one aircraft is known to be one of the leaders in all three categories, it stands out among others. The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is such an aircraft.

Preliminary design of what was to become the Phantom II began in 1953 as a single-place, long-range, attack aircraft designated by McDonnell as the F3H-G (company-financed mock-up). Its predecessors were the FH-l Phantom (the Navy's first jet-powered aircraft to be carrier-based), the F2H Banshee, and the F3H Demon. Working closely with the Navy, McDonnell engineers attempted to design into the F3H-G what it considered to be the Navy's requirements. The result was the AH-l. While there was no military requirement for such an airplane, the Navy did, at this time, explain the desired fleet air mission. McDonnell reconfigured the AM-1 design to meet the Navy's requirements.

The final outcome was designated the F4H-l, the Navy's first Mach 2 carrier-based aircraft, capable of carrying missiles (Sparrows). It could be a one- or two-place aircraft, and its primary mission was as an all-weather fleet air defense aircraft, although it retained its original initial attack capability. The F4H-l made its first flight on May 27, 1958, and later that year it entered into competition with the Chance/Vought F8U-3, then being proposed for the same primary mission. In December McDonnell was awarded a limited production contract for the F4H-l. One year later, the now-designated F-4B Phantom II joined the fleet and was assigned to Fighting Squadron 121. The Navy chose the two-seat version for production. The Phantom was qualified for both land and sea operations, and within a few years several versions were produced for the U.S. Air Force. Production for the USAF of the F-4C was authorized on 8 February 1963.

During the period 1959 to 1969, the F4H and its derivatives established many altitude and speed records. The aircraft had been redesignated the F4H-1F and still later in 1962, was assigned new designations as the F-4A, B, G, and J, with the USAF versions being the F-4C, D, and E. Like the F-4B, the F-4C had no built-in gun but carried Sparrow missiles as its primary attack weapon. A reconnaissance version, without armament but using the same basic configurations and engines, was designated the RF-4C. The F-4J was the last fighter version to be placed in quantity production for the US Navy and Marine Corps.

In 1968 the Navy chose the F-4J for its "Blue Angels" flight demonstration team and in 1969 the USAF chose the F-4E for its "Thunderbird." team. The McDonnell Douglas F-4 found its way into the international market with the first delivery overseas to the British in September 1964. Later, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Australia, Israel, Japan, Greece, Turkey, and West Germany bought the F-4. The F-4E was the model preferred by overseas air forces. Specially designed for the Japanese was the F-4EJ that dispensed with most of the offensive systems and was fitted with advanced tail warning radar and air-to-air guided missiles. Japan also ordered the RF-4EJ, an unarmed reconnaissance version. Japan assembled eleven of its F-4s in Japan and built 126 under license. The Germans received the F-4F which had the air-to-ground weapon delivery system removed to save weight. The first truly export model was the F-4K, designed during 1964 for the Royal Navy. This version included the Rolls Royce RB168-25 R Spey 201 turbo-jet engine.

Production of the Phantom peaked at a rate of more than 70 aircraft a month and by 1979, when production ceased, 5,195 had been built. The last Navy F-4 made its final "trap" (carrier landing) aboard the USS America in October 1986. The German Air Force still operates several Phantoms at Holloman AFB as training platforms for its fighter pilots.

The basic F-4B weighs 44,600 lb. loaded, has a maximum range of 2,300 miles, a service ceiling of 62,000 feet, and a cruising speed of 575 mph, with a maximum speed of 1,485 mph at 48,000 feet. Two 17,000-lb.-thrust J79-GE-8 turbojets power it. Over the years this same aircraft, with modifications, developed into the F-4S that weighs somewhat more and has increased maneuverability.

Some aircraft are remembered for the large number produced, others for their length of time in service, and others for their ability to perform their mission. When one aircraft is known to be one of the leaders in all three categories, it stands out among others. The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is such an aircraft.

During the period 1959 to 1969, the F4H and its derivatives established many altitude and speed records. Like the F-4B, the F-4C had no built-in gun but carried Sparrow missiles as its primary attack weapon. The F-4J was the last fighter version to be placed in quantity production for the US Navy and Marine Corps.

In 1968 the Navy chose the F-4J for its "Blue Angels" flight demonstration team and in 1969 the USAF chose the F-4E for its "Thunderbird" team. England, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Australia, Israel, Japan, Greece, Turkey, and West Germany have purchased the F-4. The F-4E was the model preferred by overseas air forces.

In 1961, as part of the commemoration of 50 years of Naval Aviation, the Navy sponsored a project known as Sageburner. This project was designed to set new speed records at low altitudes flying F-4A Phantoms (F4H-1). On May 18, the initial attempt ended in tragedy when Commander J. L. Felsman was killed when pitch dampener failure led to pilot-induced oscillations (PIO), causing his Phantom to break up in flight and explode. The second attempt to set a new low-altitude speed record succeeded on August 28, 1961, when Lt. Huntington Hardisty (pilot) and Lt. Earl De Esch (RIO) flew F4H-1F BuNo 145307 at an average speed of 902.760 mph over a 3 km low-altitude course at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The maximum altitude reached during this flight was only 125 feet, fully living up to the name of the project-Sageburner. The F-4A (BuNo 145307) was later turned over to the National Air and Space Museum and is preserved in storage at the Paul Garber Restoration Facility at Suitland, Maryland.

Physical Description:
Supersonic, two-seat (tandem), twin afterburning engine (J-79-GE-8 turbojet), all-weather fighter. Multiple variants.

Country of Origin
United States of America

Manufacturer
McDonnell Aircraft Corp.

Date
1958

Type
CRAFT-Aircraft

Dimensions
Overall: 16ft 5in., 54599.5lb. (5.004m, 24766.2kg)
Other: 16ft 5in. x 62ft 11in. x 38ft 5in. (5.004m x 19.177m x 11.709m)

Some aircraft are remembered for the large number produced, others for their length of time in service, and others for their ability to perform their mission. When one aircraft is known to be one of the leaders in all three categories, it stands out among others. The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is such an aircraft.

Preliminary design of what was to become the Phantom II began in 1953 as a single-place, long-range, attack aircraft designated by McDonnell as the F3H-G (company-financed mock-up). Its predecessors were the FH-l Phantom (the Navy's first jet-powered aircraft to be carrier-based), the F2H Banshee, and the F3H Demon. Working closely with the Navy, McDonnell engineers attempted to design into the F3H-G what it considered to be the Navy's requirements. The result was the AH-l. While there was no military requirement for such an airplane, the Navy did, at this time, explain the desired fleet air mission. McDonnell reconfigured the AM-1 design to meet the Navy's requirements.

The final outcome was designated the F4H-l, the Navy's first Mach 2 carrier-based aircraft, capable of carrying missiles (Sparrows). It could be a one- or two-place aircraft, and its primary mission was as an all-weather fleet air defense aircraft, although it retained its original initial attack capability. The F4H-l made its first flight on May 27, 1958, and later that year it entered into competition with the Chance/Vought F8U-3, then being proposed for the same primary mission. In December McDonnell was awarded a limited production contract for the F4H-l. One year later, the now-designated F-4B Phantom II joined the fleet and was assigned to Fighting Squadron 121. The Navy chose the two-seat version for production. The Phantom was qualified for both land and sea operations, and within a few years several versions were produced for the U.S. Air Force. Production for the USAF of the F-4C was authorized on 8 February 1963.

During the period 1959 to 1969, the F4H and its derivatives established many altitude and speed records. The aircraft had been redesignated the F4H-1F and still later in 1962, was assigned new designations as the F-4A, B, G, and J, with the USAF versions being the F-4C, D, and E. Like the F-4B, the F-4C had no built-in gun but carried Sparrow missiles as its primary attack weapon. A reconnaissance version, without armament but using the same basic configurations and engines, was designated the RF-4C. The F-4J was the last fighter version to be placed in quantity production for the US Navy and Marine Corps.

In 1968 the Navy chose the F-4J for its "Blue Angels" flight demonstration team and in 1969 the USAF chose the F-4E for its "Thunderbird." team. The McDonnell Douglas F-4 found its way into the international market with the first delivery overseas to the British in September 1964. Later, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Australia, Israel, Japan, Greece, Turkey, and West Germany bought the F-4. The F-4E was the model preferred by overseas air forces. Specially designed for the Japanese was the F-4EJ that dispensed with most of the offensive systems and was fitted with advanced tail warning radar and air-to-air guided missiles. Japan also ordered the RF-4EJ, an unarmed reconnaissance version. Japan assembled eleven of its F-4s in Japan and built 126 under license. The Germans received the F-4F which had the air-to-ground weapon delivery system removed to save weight. The first truly export model was the F-4K, designed during 1964 for the Royal Navy. This version included the Rolls Royce RB168-25 R Spey 201 turbo-jet engine.

Production of the Phantom peaked at a rate of more than 70 aircraft a month and by 1979, when production ceased, 5,195 had been built. The last Navy F-4 made its final "trap" (carrier landing) aboard the USS America in October 1986. The German Air Force still operates several Phantoms at Holloman AFB as training platforms for its fighter pilots.

The basic F-4B weighs 44,600 lb. loaded, has a maximum range of 2,300 miles, a service ceiling of 62,000 feet, and a cruising speed of 575 mph, with a maximum speed of 1,485 mph at 48,000 feet. Two 17,000-lb.-thrust J79-GE-8 turbojets power it. Over the years this same aircraft, with modifications, developed into the F-4S that weighs somewhat more and has increased maneuverability.

ID: A19690213000