McDonnell-Douglas F-4N Phantom II

Aircrafts Background

Our F-4 Phantom came to the Prairie Aviation Museum on permanent loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola, FL in 1997. As part of the history of this particular aircraft shows, it was stationed with the VF-161(Chargers) fighter squadron, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CV-41) starting in June, 1973.

History

After losing out to the F8U Crusader in a competitive bid for a Navy Supersonic air-superiority fighter, McDonnell began a company funded project in 1952 to produce a carrier-borne fighter-bomber as a replacement for its F3H Demon. The outcome was the single-seat, multi-role (i.e., fighter, attack, photo reconnaissance, ECM) AH-1 aircraft with a top-speed of Mach 1.5. After the purchase of two AH-1 prototypes in 1954, Navy specifications were revised to provide for two-crew manning (pilot and Radar Intercept Officer), the Sparrow III (and eventually the Sidewinder) guided missile weapons system, and two GE J-79 engines with 17,000 lbs thrust each for Mach 2+ speed. The combined thrust of the two engines in after-burner gave it a thrust-to-weight ratio greater than one which meant that the F-4 could climb straight up after take-off. The aircraft designation was then changed from AH-l to F4H-l and named the “Phantom II”, one of the most famous aircraft in the history of military aviation. Its maiden flight occurred in 1958 with deliveries to Navy and Marine squadrons beginning in 1960.

In the space of about twenty-eight months since its introduction, the F-4 had established 15 world aviation records including altitude (98,500 ft), time-to-climb and speed (Mach 2.59). These factors coupled with a demonstrated capability to lift a load of up to 22,000 lbs convinced the Air Force to procure the aircraft whose performance qualities were as good or better than their best fighters.

Over 5,000 F-4s were produced of which 1500 were still in use by 1992 and second only to the MiG-21 in numbers produced. It has served the Air Forces of twelve foreign countries and is the only aircraft to be flown concurrently by the Navy and Air Force flight demonstration teams. While Navy and Marine Corps F-4’s were replaced by the Grumman F-14 “Tomcat”, the Air Force still retains some for special mission roles.

Of particular interest, this type aircraft was flown by LDCR Ronald “Mugs” McKeown, with his RIO Jack “Fingers” Ensch from the deck of the USS Midway(CV-41) Jack is originally from Springfield, IL, and graduated from Illinois State University. Jack is also a Life Time member of the museum. These two Naval aviator were credited with the first twin kill of MiG’s during the Viet Nam Conflict.

ROLE:Carrier and land based Fighter/Attack
Crew: Two, Pilot and Radar Intercept Officer
SPECIFICATIONS
Engine:Two 17,000 lb thrust GE J79-GE-8 with afterburners
Wing Span: 38 feet 5 inches
Length: 58 feet 2 inches
Height:12 feet 3 inches
Empty Weight:31,853 pounds
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 54,600 pounds
Armament: Up to 16,000 pounds of air-to-air missiles, nuclear or conventional bombs, rockets, air-to-ground missiles or gun pods

PERFORMANCE
Maximum speed:Mach 2+
Range:1,750 miles (with external tanks)
Service Ceiling:59,600 feet

Previous Duty Station

F-4N Phantom II
Bureau Number: 150444

Nov-62
Accepted into inventory at St. Luois
Dec-62
USS Enterprise VF-102
Aug-63
NAS Oceana VF-102
Jan-64
NAS Cecil Field VF-31
Sep-64
NAS Key West VF-101
Jan-65
NAS Cecil Field VF-14
Jun-65
NAS Key West VF-101
Aug-65
USS Forrestal VF-103
Oct-65
NAS Key West VF-103
Dec-65
USS Saratogo VF-103
Mar-66
NAS Key West VF-101
May-66
NAS Oceana VF-41
Apr-67
USS Forrestal VF-74
Jun-67
NAS Key West VF-101
Dec-67
MCAS Beaufort VMFA-312
Jun-70
MCAS Cherry Point VMFA-312
Oct-70
MCAS Beaufort H&MS 31
Mar-72
NADEP North Island NARF
May-73
NAS Maramar VF-161
Jun-73
USS Midway VF-161
Mar-75
NAS Atsugi VF-161
Apr-75
USS Midway VF-161
Jun-75
NAS Atsugi VF-161
Jul-75
USS Midway VF-161
Aug-75
NAS Atsugi VF-161
Jan-76
USS Midway VF-161
Dec-76
NAS Atsugi VF-161
Jan-77
USS Midway VF-161
May-77
NAS Atsugi VF-161
Jun-77
USS Midway VF-161
Aug-77
USS Coral Sea VF-191
Nov-77
Last known assignment VF-191