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Chek

Mystery F-4 Phantom - addenda.

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Posted (edited)

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.

 

25992050157_d05da73358_b.jpg

Edited by Chek

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Posted (edited)

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.

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Only thing I could find is this page it is in Spanish
http://fdra-aereo.blogspot.nl/2013/11/lgb-introduccion-y-caracteristicas.html

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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Heritage Flights

http://www.f4phantom.com/Gallery/HeritageFlights/

 

 

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

http://www.f4phantom.com/Gallery/HeritageFlights/Jake_Melampy-Feb2010/index.html

 

 

 

There are other photographers too you could check out.

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Posted (edited)

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).

 

40013997695_ced14c7e88_o.jpg

 

 

'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

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Posted (edited)

Hi guys.

 

As promised, I've got an update and ID at last. As is usually the way with these things I stumbled across it while looking for something else.

 

Firstly, I have to give top marks to Jennings as he was bang on the nose about it being one of Flight Systems' fleet.

FS seems to have had a liking for ex-EF-4C airframes as they used several, and despite the lack of any number ID the camouflage pattern is identical to the find posted below, with detail differences from their other camouflaged candidates. So without further ado, the mystery jet is ... F-4C 63-7567 (N402FS) EXPERIMENTAL Flight Systems out of Mojave circa 1986 - early 87. Later in 1987 it carried a scabbed on IFR probe, as seen on Israeli Phantoms.

 

40829432705_bda90966e3_h.jpg

 

As luck would have it, it didn't end it's days as a drone or a coke can, and is now on display at the Travis AFB Heritage centre. Restored as FJ-567 to the original scheme the F-4C entered TAC service with in 1963 (with correct olive drab anti-dazzle panel!), only the slightly shonky looking bottom of the 'O' in US Air Force betrays the ALR-53 antenna housing from her previous life.

 

39920938000_26ee13f245_h.jpg

Edited by Chek

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Posted (edited)

 

The F-4C WW-IVC featured a permanent pallet faired into the former port fwd Sparrow well, housing mostly ER-142 black boxes but also a KA-71 strike camera. Not as big as the F-4D Advanced WW testbeds' pallets though! (And they had more electronics stuffed between the engines, which is why the decision was made in 1974 to use the longer nosed F-4E airframe for the conversion programme).

 

Who is FFRC? Great AWW testbed pic. Mick Roth and Dennis Jenkins have the only pics like that that I knew of, so I'd be interested to track down a higher res version. Those birds flew from Edwards 1971-1975, one of them subsequently going to GDFW to act as testbed for the Westinghouse APG-66 radar.

 

Cheers

 

Tony

 

P.S.

Okay, found it. Looks like a McAir pic which may belong to the Greater Saint Louis Air Museum collection.

Edited by Tony T

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Posted (edited)

Sorry for the delay. The photos are from Ron Downey's site (http://aviationarchives.blogspot.co.uk/)

via FFRC (https://www.flickr.com/photos/137994134@N07) - although she doesn't post the hi-res versions on her own Flickr photostream

 

Large versions can be had from the links below:

 

https://s5.pixxxels.cc/5wokxu3xx/F-4_D_66-7647_Jan_19_1972-1.jpg?dl=1 (2250 x 1550)

https://postimg.cc/image/dj4tj58dv/ (3300 x 2550)

 

Incidentally, a nice cross-section view of the Sparrow bay canoe/pod can be seen here

 

And a further addition, from the rather lo-res video here of 66-7647 in flight, two further views showing some canoe/pod details from the port rear quarter -

 

41059507965_0d7faf030f_b.jpg

 

... and from the starboard side

 

40151848640_3085939681_b.jpg

Edited by Chek

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Yes, that's the brute. Thanks for posting Charles.

 

I built one of these using the 1/48 Monogram F-4C/D kit as a starting point back in 1984-85, and it did look good with those international orange embellishements to the tail and wingtips. Too obscure for 1/32 treatment, but those two testbeds were an important part of the Advanced Wild Woozel story.

 

Thanks again

 

Tony

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I'm sure your Monogram looked great. It can still hold its head high after almost 40 years against any other 1/48 kit.

 

You were well ahead of the curve too - I knew nothing of these F-4D predecessors until I started this topic.

And that's despite an interest in the beast dating back to a photo in the Mirror of the first FGR2 arriving at Aldergrove.

It seems I already had a couple of not great photos but hadn't attached any significance to them.

 

Which just goes to show there's always something to be learnt about Phantoms - I'll have to go dig out Anthony Thornborough's book again.

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