The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II flew for the first time fifty-six years ago today. The most important western fighter of the postwar period, more than 5,000 F-4s were built between 1958 and 1981. The aircraft began life as the F3H-G naval strike fighter and was adapted to meet a Navy requirement for a fleet defense fighter in 1955. A two-seat multirole fighter, it demonstrated performance levels far above anything then flying. Navy Phantoms set 16 world records which stood until the F-15 Eagle appeared in 1975. The first confirmed Phantom air-to-air victory of the Vietnam War took place on June 17, 1965, when an F-4B from Fighter Squadron TWENTY ONE (VF-21) downed a MiG-17. Of the 57 Navy aerial victories in Vietnam, 36 were in Phantoms! The Air Force and Marine Corps operated the F-4, as did air forces of 11 other nations. Variants of the Phantom in reconnaissance and Wild Weasel configurations were also employed.
Here is a photo of Lieutenant Colonel Wayne “Holy” Chitmon in an F-4 at the 2012 Naval Air Station Oceana Air Show.
After 40 years in service with the German Air Force, the service is retiring the last of their McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom IIs.WarbirdsNews had the opportunity to participate to the final event held in June 2013 at the Wittmund Airbase. Click HERE to read our article.
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