Phantom Pheature

Smoking hot and since retired; a Republic of South Korea Air Force F-4D comes in for landing at Gangneung Airbase in autumn 2004. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)

The legendary F-4 Phantom flew for the first time on 27 May 1958. To celebrate, we went up to the attic, found those ol’ Phantom photos, fired up the ol’ scanner…. and actually had a very good time. Even more ‘double uglies’ are to be found in our Phantom Afterparty, first published two years ago when the Germans said ‘auf Wiedersehen’ to their final Phantoms.

Let’s start with some more or less random Germans. The Luftwaffe flew Phantoms from January 1971 – when the first of 88 RF-4Es arrived – right up to June this year, when the last of a total of 175 F-4Fs were retired.

This RF-4E is seen in September 1993, during the twilight of its German career. The Luftwaffe ceased flying the recce Phantoms in 1994, selling a substantial number of them to Greece and Turkey. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
This RF-4E is seen in September 1993, during the twilight of its German career. The Luftwaffe ceased flying the recce Phantoms in 1994, selling a substantial number of them to Greece and Turkey. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The German F-4F Phantoms looked great in these colours, that were known als NORM 81, as the scheme was introduced in 1981. The aircraft is seen on a wintery day in March 1995. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The German F-4F Phantoms looked great in these colours, that were known als NORM 81, as the scheme was introduced in 1981. The aircraft is seen on a wintery day in March 1995. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Germans have a thing for colourfull aircraft, and this Jagtgeschwader 72 Phantom from Fliegerhorst Hopsten perhaps looked best of all. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Germans have a thing for colourfull aircraft, and this Jagtgeschwader 72 Phantom from Fliegerhorst Hopsten perhaps looked best of all. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, the Phantom was operated by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force in three different versions: The Phantom FG1, Phantom FGR2 and the F-4J(UK). The first two had British Rolls-Royce Spey engines, while the F-4J(UK) aircraft were basically standard US Navy aircraft that were brought in to strengthen UK air defences after the 1982 Falklands war. Ten years later, the British stopped flying the Phantom.

In case the German Phantom above wasn't colourful enough, there's always this Phantom FG1. It is seen here in June 1992 at its home of Boscombe Down. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
In case the German Phantom above wasn’t colourful enough, there’s always this Phantom FG1. It is seen here in June 1992 at its home of Boscombe Down. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
End of the line for this F-4J(UK), seen at the former RAFG Laarbruch in Germany. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
End of the line for this F-4J(UK), parked at RAFG Laarbruch in Germany. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Spain
The Ejército del Aire started flying Phantoms in 1971 in the shape of F-4Cs and RF-4Cs. The latter were retired in 1989 while the former soldiered on until 2002.

Spanish Phantoms were a rather rare sight in western Europe, so when two aircraft visited the Netherlands in June 1996, they were given a warm welcome. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Spanish Phantoms were a rather rare sight in western Europe, so when two aircraft visited the Netherlands in June 1996, they were given a warm welcome. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

South Korea
South Korea was a large Phantom operator, using the F-4D, F-4E and RF-4C. The F-4D has been replaced by the F-15K Slam Eagle, but the F-4E is still defending the country in significant numbers.

Smoking hot and since retired; a Republic of South Korea Air Force F-4D comes in for landing at Gangneung Airbase in autumn 2004. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Smoking hot and since retired; a Republic of South Korea Air Force F-4D comes in for landing at Gangneung Airbase in autumn 2004. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Japan
Japanese Phantom have lured many – and we mean many – aviation photographers to the land of the rising sun. The number of Japanese Phantoms has dwindled over the last few years though. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force is looking towards the F-35 as a replacement.

Hiko Kaihatsu Jikkendan. What's that? Hiko Kaihatsu Jikkendan, or in other words, the JASDF test unit. That's to whom this F-4EJ belongs. It is seen here at Gifu airbase. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Hiko Kaihatsu Jikkendan. What’s that? Hiko Kaihatsu Jikkendan, or in other words, the JASDF test unit. That’s to whom this F-4EJ belongs. It is seen here at Gifu airbase. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

United States
The largest Phantom operator – by no small amount – was of course the United States. The USAF, US Navy and US Marines Corps used the aircraft extensively throughout the sixties, seventies, eighties and into the nineties. It saw prominent action over Vietnam and remained the US military backbone for years after that conflict ended.

Remember these? The Spangdahlem based F-4Gs were a familiar sight in Europe, until the left for the US in February 1994. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Remember these? Of course you do! The Spangdahlem based F-4Gs were a familiar sight in Europe, untill they left for the US in February 1994. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Many US Phantom ended up as QF-4 flying targets, but few did it while looking so dead sexy as this QF-4S, seen in 2000 at Miramar, CA. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Many US Phantom ended up as QF-4 flying targets, but few did it looking so dead sexy as this QF-4S, seen in 2000 at Miramar, CA. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Phantom mass grave, that's basically what AMARG was for many years. This ex Texas Air National Guard F-4D has been there since 1989 and remains there to this day. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Phantom mass grave, that’s basically what AMARG was for many years. This ex Texas Air National Guard F-4D has been there since 1989. It remains there to this day. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

© 2013 AIRheads’ editor Elmer van Hest

Related posts