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F-4S Phantom II

The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor and fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. It first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable, it was also adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force, and by the mid-1960s had become a major part of their air arms.

Aircraft Details
& Specifications

Mission: Carrier-based All-Weather Fighter-Bomber / Interceptor

Model Service Dates: 1960-1996

Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas Corporation; St. Louis, MO

Bureau Number: 157246



Length: 58 ft, 3 in 

Wing Span: 38 ft, 5 in 

Height: 15 ft, 8 in 


Max Speed: Mach 2.2 (1,279 kts / 1,472 mph) 

Rate of Climb: 35,200 ft/min


Ceiling: 39,650 ft 

Range: 2,001 nm (2,303 mi)

Powerplant: 2 × General Electric J79-GE-108

Thrust: Norm – 11,100 lbs; AB – 17,820 lbs 


Missiles: AIM-9L/M Sidewinder; AIM-7 Sparrow

Rockets: 5 in Zuni rocket pod

Bombs: MK-82 500 lb GP; MK-83 1,000 lb GP; MK-84 2,000 lb GP; MK-20 Rockeye II Cluster; MK-77 Mod4 500 lb Incendiary

Total Weapons: 18,650 lbs


External Stations: 9– 4 wing, 5 fuselage

Crew: 2– 1 pilot, 1 radar intercept officer (RIO)

The Phantom is a large fighter with a top speed of over Mach 2.2. It can carry more than 18,000 pounds (8,400 kg) of weapons on nine external hardpoints, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs. The F-4, like other interceptors of its time, was initially designed without an internal cannon. Later models incorporated an M61 Vulcan rotary cannon. Beginning in 1959, it set 15 world records for in-flight performance, including an absolute speed record, and an absolute altitude record.

The F-4J was an improved version of the F-4B. Upgrades emphasized improving the plane’s air-to-air combat and ground attack capabilities. They included a new radar system that gave it look down/shoot down capability and sturdier landing gear. In 1977 F-4Js were modified to the F-4S. Upgrades to this variant included smokeless engines, a strengthened airframe, and leading-edge slats for improved maneuverability. Smokeless engines were an important feature because the engines on earlier models emitted large amounts of black smoke, making it easy for the enemy to spot them.

The F-4J on display was delivered to the US Navy on January 10, 1969 and assigned to the “Aardvarks” of Fighter Squadron 114 (VF-114), home based at NAS Miramar, to replace their F-4Bs. The squadron was deployed twice aboard the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) to Southeast Asia for combat over Vietnam. After tours with VF-213 “Black Lions” and VF-121 “Pacemakers”, also at Miramar, it was assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 (VMFAT-101) at MCAS Yuma where it was used in the training of crews for Fleet Marine Force squadrons.

In 1980 it was transferred to MCAS Kaneohe Bay Hawaii and served with the “Death Angels” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 235 (VMFA-235) and VMFA-212 “Lancers”. In November of 1983 it was reworked into an F-4S at the Naval Air Rework Facility (NARF) at NAS North Island. It returned to Hawaii and served with VMFA-232 “Red Devils” and finally back to VMFA-235. It was stricken from the inventory in 1986 after 17 years of service and 4,680 flight hours, and transferred to the Museum. It has been restored in the markings of VMFA-134 “Smoke”, a Reserve squadron that flew the Phantom out of MCAS El Toro. This aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

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