BBI BBI4233 US Navy McDonnell F-4J Phantom II Fighter-Bomber - VFA-154 "Black Knights" (1:32 Scale)
"The winner [of an air battle] may have been determined by the amount of time, energy, thought and training an individual has previously accomplished in an effort to increase his ability as a fighter pilot."
- Lt. Randy "Duke" Cunningham
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a two-seat, twin-engined, all-weather, long-range supersonic fighter-bomber originally developed for the U.S. Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. Proving highly adaptable, it became a major part of the air wings of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force. It was used extensively by all three of these services during the Vietnam War, serving as the principal air superiority fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, as well as being important in the ground-attack and reconnaissance roles by the close of U.S. involvement in the war.
First entering service in 1960, the Phantom continued to form a major part of U.S. military air power throughout the 1970s and 1980s, being gradually replaced by more modern aircraft such as the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon in the U.S. Air Force and the F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet in the U.S. Navy. It remained in service in the reconnaissance and Wild Weasel roles in the 1991 Gulf War, finally leaving service in 1996. The Phantom was also operated by the armed forces of 11 other nations. Israeli Phantoms saw extensive combat in several Arab-Israeli conflicts, while Iran used its large fleet of Phantoms in the Iran-Iraq War. Phantoms remain in front line service with seven countries, and in use as an unmanned target in the U.S. Air Force.
Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981, with a total of 5,195 built. This extensive run makes it the second most-produced Western jet fighter, behind the famous F-86 Sabre at just under 10,000 examples.
The F-4 Phantom was designed as a fleet defense fighter for the U.S. Navy, and first entered service in 1960. By 1963, it had been adopted by the U.S. Air Force for the fighter-bomber role. When production ended in 1981, 5,195 Phantom IIs had been built, making it the most numerous American supersonic military aircraft. Until the advent of the F-15 Eagle, the F-4 also held a record for the longest continuous production for a fighter with a run of 24 years. Innovations in the F-4 included an advanced pulse-doppler radar and extensive use of titanium in its airframe.
Despite the imposing dimensions and a maximum takeoff weight of over 60,000 pounds (27,000 kg), the F-4 had a top speed of Mach 2.23 and an initial climb of over 41,000 ft per minute (210 m/s). Shortly after its introduction, the Phantom set 15 world records, including an absolute speed record of 1,606.342 mph (2,585.086 km/h), and an absolute altitude record of 98,557 ft (30,040 m). Although set in 1959-1962, five of the speed records were not broken until 1975 when the F-15 Eagle came into service.
The F-4 could carry up to 18,650 pounds (8,480 kg) of weapons on nine external hardpoints, including air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and unguided, guided, and nuclear bombs. Since the F-8 Crusader was to be used for close combat, the F-4 was designed, like other interceptors of the day, without an internal cannon. In a dogfight, the RIO or WSO (commonly called "backseater" or "pitter") assisted in spotting opposing fighters, visually as well as on radar. It became the primary fighter-bomber of both the Navy and Air Force by the end of the Vietnam War.
Due to its distinctive appearance and widespread service with United States military and its allies, the F-4 is one of the best-known icons of the Cold War. It served in the Vietnam War and Arab-Israeli conflicts, with American F-4 crews achieving 277 aerial victories in Southeast Asia and completing countless ground attack sorties.
Pictured here is a 1:32 scale replica of a US Navy McDonnell F-4J Phantom II Fighter-bomber that was attached to VF-154.
Wingspan: 23/3/4 inches
Length: 14-1/4 inches
Release Date: January 2013
Historical Account: "Black Knights" - Strike Fighter Squadron 154 (VFA-154), also known as the "Black Knights", is a United States Navy strike fighter squadron stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore. The Black Knights are an operational fleet squadron flying the F/A-18F Super Hornet. They are currently attached to Carrier Air Wing Fourteen and deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76). Their radio callsign is "Knight."
Between 1999 and 2002, VF-154 would participate in five deployments in the Pacific as well as the Indian Ocean. In 2001, CVW-5 flew more than 600 missions and 100 combat sorties in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
In 2003, VF-154 would make their last cruise with the F-14, this time in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This would be the first time CVW-5 would deploy to the Persian Gulf since 1999. The USS Kitty Hawk arrived on station on February 26th and CVW-5 was chosen to be the dedicated Close Air Support wing. VF-154 deployed with 12 F-14As and detached five F-14As and five air crews to the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar where these F-14s and its crews would work closely with Royal Air Force Panavia Tornados, USAF F-15Es, F-16CGs and F-16CJ's and Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18As. CENTCOM had contacted CVW-5 and specifically asked for the air wing to deploy Forward Air Controller capable Tomcats and crews to support coalition land-based aircraft as well as Special Forces squads operating inside Iraq. The F-14s were usually paired with the aircraft already deployed to the airbase, dropping bomb themselves or guiding other aircraft bombs. The aircrews would fly daily missions and in one 48 hour period the Black Knights detachment flew 14 sorties totaling 100 hours of flight time. The crews at Al Udeid flew more than 300 combat hours and delivered 50 000 pounds of ordnance, (98 GBU-12s) during the 21 day stay at the airbase.
On April 1st, 2003, VF-154 lost one of their aircraft over southern Iraq due to that it suffered a single engine and fuel transfer system failure which caused the remaining engine to run dry. The crew, already two hours into their mission and having dropped some bombs,the pilot and RIO ejected and the crew was soon picked up by an HH-60G helicopter. This F-14A was the first coalition aircraft to crash in Iraq since the start of Iraqi Freedom.
The remaining F-14s on the USS Kitty Hawk made a valuable contribution to the war effort, compromising mostly of junior officers and expended 246 GBU-12s, ten GBU-16s and four GBU-10s during 27 days of combat. By the end of the war, VF-154 had dropped 358 laser guided bombs, buddy lased 65 more and passed target coordinates for 32 JDAMs during the course of 286 sorties. The Black Knights had expended more ordnance than any other unit in CVW-5, despite flying the oldest jets in the air wing.
In September 2003, the Black Knights left Atsugi for the last time and ended their proud 13 years in Japan and 20 years in the Tomcat. A month later, VF-154 was redesignated VFA-154 at their new home at NAS Lemoore, California, and began transitioning to the Navy's newest strike fighter, the F/A-18F Super Hornet. They completed their first Super Hornet cruise in the summer of 2005 aboard the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), part of Carrier Air Wing 9 supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. On April 6th, 2005, VFA-154 and VFA-147 dropped two 500-pound laser-guided bombs on enemy insurgent location east of Baghdad.