First in a series of blog posts to cover RAF and Fleet Air Arm Phantoms. Having also just acquired a very nice photo album comprising some 200 top images, expect plenty more on British Phantoms in the lead up to the release of the forthcoming Airfix 1:72 scale kit later this year. Below; as seen at the Nuremberg toy fair..
via the 72aircraft news blog
First some gen, starting at the beginning.
In the late 1960's the UK was the first overseas customer to buy the F-4 Phantom from the United States, purchased for the Royal Navy as an all-weather. long-range, carrier-borne fighter for Fleet defence to replace the Sea Vixen. An RAF variant was developed. The Fleet Air Arm F-4 K Phantom FG 1 and the RAF F-4 M Phantom FGR 2 were derived from the F-4 J, but featured the Westinghouse AN/AWG-11/12 Pulse doppler radar, Rolls Royce Spey 202/203 turbofan engines producing 20,515 lbs of thrust each (12,250 lbs each in static dry power - non-reheat - 17,500 in flight) and significantly different British avionics including a Ferranti Inertial Navigation and Attack System or INAS in the case of the FGR 2. Replacing the original General Electric J79 engines with the slightly fatter and longer Rolls Royce Speys necessitated changes to the inlets due to the larger air requirement and a re-design of the lower rear fuselage. The installation of the Speys gave an increase of 10% in operational range, 15% increase in ferry range and better low-level acceleration, however the increased drag of the engine installation rather upset the aerodynamic qualities of the airframe, resulting in slightly reduced performance at high altitude.The AN/AWG-11 fire control system was installed in the F-4 K and the AN/AWG-12 in the FGR 2 in place of the AN/AWG-10 of the F-4 J. The AWG-11 differed from the AWG-10 mainly in having a radar dish that folded sideways with the nose cone (radome) to reduce the aircraft's length to 54 feet so that it could fit on the smaller deck lifts of British aircraft carriers. Fifty F-4 K Phantom FG.MK 1s were built and 116 F-4 M Phantom FGR. Mk 2s (plus two prototypes of each) ..
British F-4 undergoing sea trials on HMS Eagle - Joe Wilkinson in the foreground on the tractor. According to Joe this is probably the aircraft currently on display in the FAA museum. (pic via Joe Wilkinson)
"..the undercarriage just sags under its own weight until it touches down, then compresses. Hooks weren't routinely used for airfield landing unless the 'chute candled and they dumped it for a go-around.." (Charlie Brown)
Below; Royal Navy McDonnell F-4K Phantom FG.1, XT861 of 767 Sqn. Royal Navy seen landing at RNAS Yeovilton, UK on 5 September 1970. Currently on offer here
Below; FG.1 XT876 of 767 NAS at Yeovilton in 1969. Note black code and stencils. The Phantom FG.1 with black serials in place of white ROYAL NAVY with white serials were not FAA RN machines but on loan from the RAF. In total five FG.1 were loaned back to RN/767 at Yeovilton to train RAF crews on the FG.1 for the soon to be No.43 Squadron (and PCF in July-August 1969). All had the 767 golden eagle and both XV 572 and XV 579 had RAF variegated camouflage. See below (XT 873, XT 875, XT 876, XV 572, XV 597)
The second set of RAF FG.1 with RN EDSG finish were for use with the PPOCU/PTF Leuchars – RAF unit with naval staff – aircraft finish was RN, but markings (black serial) were RAF. These trained both RAF crews for No.43 Squadron and crews for No.892 Squadron for the navy.
So you have six further FG.1 painted in RN finish, with RAF pattern markings. XT857 (still had 767 gold eagle), XT860, XT861, XT866, XV569, XV570, the black serial is the key to ownership. The LU (for Leuchars) was used on two FG.1 before the unit changed to a larger single white letter.
Mark Taylor photo. Mark posted on FB; " This is the a/c that was lost 10th January 1972 with the sad loss of Cmdr Simon Idiens following a double 'flame-out' RIP. The observer Lt. 'Rod' O'Connor ejected safely and was recovered by the Culdrose SAR.."
Below; also serving with 767 NAS was XV 579 "157"/VL in two-tone RAF camo.
(unknown photographers, photo print above and below in my collection - you can click on the image to view it large)
Also available on the 'Early British Phantoms' decal sheet from RAM Models
Below; Royal Navy Phantom FG.1 XT 859, at Yeovilton, March 1969 (in my collection via Darryl Wickham). Another notable feature of FAA F-4s was the extensible nose wheel leg to reduce the 'wind over deck' requirement for safe launches from the smaller British flight decks/catapults.
" Everything drops when the weight is off the wheels. For carrier ops the nose wheel extended to give better angle of attack on launch. 1/2 flap for take off and full flap for landing. The leading edge flaps came down for both..On the FGR2 we didn't have the extending nosewheel although it might have been useful on a QRA launch from Stanley! We also landed into the cable. It was a 600 foot pull out not too dissimilar to The Ark. The oleos extended under gravity. so what you see on landing is normal. I think the early FG1s had the extending nose wheel. A few of the Navy mods were retained such as the slotted stabilator but most were slowly phased out."
Phantom F-4K XT859/VL-725 700P Sqn/RN 1968
Above; just acquired most recent British F-4 Phantom decal sheet from RAM Models.