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Mystery F-4 Phantom help please

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#1 Chek


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Posted 17 March 2018 - 07:47 PM

Good evening (UK time) ladies, gentlemen and anyone else tuning in.


I'm having a sort through my Phantom Philes in the hope of introducing some kind of order to them, and happened across the one shown below


The weapon appears to be glide bomb, vaguely HOBOS style, with what look like two sighting lights or flare fairings at the rear. The rear cutaway fin arrangement is often seen on nuke training shapes, but only in their style. Pretty sure its not an instant sunshine deliverer. 

Or the rear end cap could just as easily be blasted off and the thing becomes a missile, though the camera pod (?) on the port pylon with the side and rear facing windows suggest it will be slowing down relative to the mothership, so probably not powered..


For extra bonus points, an ID on the Phantom would also be welcome.

From the SEA overall paint scheme, I'd hazard a guess it's from the mid-'80s, and from the ALR-53 bump above the wing root leading edge, I'm guessing it's an ex EF-4C with the nose (and other) antennae removed. The large white 'EXPERIMENTAL' on the intake is also fairly unique, but despite various searches on Phantoms, Edwards and Eglin I've not found another photo of it.


Any clues or suggestions regarding either will be gratefully received. Wild, unhinged guesses also welcome.



Edited by Chek, 17 March 2018 - 08:09 PM.

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#2 Bill M.

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Posted 17 March 2018 - 08:25 PM

If I had to guess, I would say it is an F-4D of the USAF Special Weapons Center at Kirtland AFB in flight over White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico about to conduct a test launch. But, just a guess...
Bill M.

Edited by Bill M., 17 March 2018 - 08:26 PM.

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#3 Martinnfb


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Posted 17 March 2018 - 08:39 PM

would it be this one ?


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#4 Jan-Arie


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Posted 17 March 2018 - 09:06 PM

Only thing I could find is this page it is in Spanish

Has something to do with NAA Nort American Aviation ( Rockwell ) LGB testing at Eglin also the name of Colonel Joe Davis turned up in one of the examples at google search.
Interesting piece.

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#5 harvey


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Posted 17 March 2018 - 09:41 PM

Defiantly a test. I agree with Bill.... Harv
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#6 ScottsGT


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Posted 17 March 2018 - 11:09 PM

Well it's obviously a home built with "Experimental" on the side of it.
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#7 Jennings Heilig

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Posted 17 March 2018 - 11:13 PM

It's not a military F-4.  The "Experimental" title means it's on the civil register.  Probably Flight Systems.  Not sure what the dangly thing is.

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#8 MARU5137


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Posted 17 March 2018 - 11:15 PM

Heritage Flights

I wonder if tgese links hold any clues for you as there are photos from the like of Jake Melampy etc...

Heritage Flights/Jake Melampy-Feb2010

There are other photographers too you could check out.
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#9 Chek


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Posted 19 March 2018 - 03:16 PM

Thanks for the help and suggestions folks.


As Jan-Arie's link explains (according to Google translate) the weapon itself appears to be one of NAA's contributions to precision guided munitions on the long road to what we know today as the Paveway family that have been uiniversally adopted by NATO air forces. As such I don't think it will ever have had an official designation, and even the NAA one, should any records have survived the post-Boeing dumpster, will likely be something bland like XL-Super bomb.


While being sceptical at first of Bill M's identification as an F-4D (due to the Wild Weasel/EF-4C bump antenna plate above the wing root) I'm pursuing that line of enquiry now.

For one thing the photo was stored in my F-4D folder, which must have been for some reason to start with.


But I also found out that on the road to the F-4G we all know and love (and who hasn't struggled with ID'ing all those FY69 seemingly duplicate serial number series) there were indeed four F-4Ds converted. Two, namely 66-7635 and 66-7647, with the APR-38 system's big chin and fin pods, along with its three nose and one fin lo-band black strip antennae as later used on the production F-4G conversions. For sheer ugliness thankfully those conversions weren't pursued in surplus D models, as it makes the standard F-4B/C/D/N 'donkey dong' look elegant in comparison, Here's a photo to show I'm not joking.40900292621_cc8f0a5d91_o.jpg



And then there were another two without the APR-38 that had the ER-142 or later ALR-53 'bump' antenna and respective ECM suite fitted as used on the EF-4C fleet,

F-4Ds 65-0657 and 65-0660. (Serial numbers given for anybody else interested).





'0657 looked quite likely, having served with the 57th FWW at Nellis in the early '70s. The only photo I can find shows her stripped of engines and some panels while with the 417th TFS at Holloman in the mid '70s. She was lost in a crash in 1977, so little new info is likely to be forthcoming. The only semi-conclusion I can draw is that the SEA overall scheme was not widely used in that timeframe, most common application being towards the early-to-mid '80s. One other interesting supplementary (if you find this sort of thing interesting) being that after transfer to the 37th TFW at Tonopah in 1989, the 417th became the 417 Tactical Fighter Training Squadron for the F-117A, an aircraft that specialises in PGMs.


'660 is now a gate guard at Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, Alabama and repainted in standard if glossy SEA colours including light grey undersides, and without closer inspection, betrays no trace of its former life.


Without access to the log books and or record cards, it's not yet known if either would, as Jennings suggests, have been temporarily seconded to a manufacturers trials program, but it's certainly not unlikely for a hi-performance though obsolete aircraft to participate in a hi-value Air Force program.


Special shout out to ScottsGT for the funniest post.


Once again thanks to all for your participation and interest. I'll update if I (ever) find anything more definitive. 

Edited by Chek, 19 March 2018 - 09:51 PM.

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