Hobby Master HA1954 USAF McDonnell RF-4C Phantom II Reconnaissance Aircraft - 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, RAF Alconbury, England, 1967 (1:72 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.
The RF-4 was an unarmed photographic reconnaissance version of the USAF's F-4C which carried a variety of film-based and side-looking radar [SLAR] sensors for the Air Force [RF-4C] and the Marine Corps [RF-4B].
In February 1963 the Marine Corps agreed to acquire the first 9 of what would eventually amount to a fleet of 46 RF-4Bs, a photographic reconnaissance version of the basic F-4 Phantom. The RF-4B was generally similar to the more numerous Air Force RF-4C, with a lengthened nose designed for reconnaissance applications. Three separate camera bays in the nose were designated Stations 1, 2, and 3, and carried a variety of cameras, which unlike the cameras of the RF-4Cs were on rotating mounts so they could be aimed at targets off the flight path.
Pictured here is a USAF McDonnell RF-4C Phantom II Reconnaissance Aircraft that was attached to the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, then deployed to RAF Alconbury, England, during 1967.
Wingspan: 6.25 inches
Length: 10.5 inches
Release Date: January 2011
Historical Account: "On a Wing and a Prayer" - The Air Force started a 'wing-base' service test in 1947. Under this program the 10th Reconnaissance Wing was organized on December 3rd, 1947, at Pope Field, North Carolina. The new wing was assigned the 10th Reconnaissance Group as its operational flying component. On August 25th, 1948, the 10th Reconnaissance Wing was redesignated the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (10 TRW), with its component groups also being redesignated. The 10th conducted training at Pope, primarily with army units at Fort Bragg until April 1st, 1949, when, due to budget restrictions, the unit was inactivated.
On July 10th, 1952, as a result of the United States Cold War military buildup in Europe, the 10 TRW was reactivated and assigned to NATO at Toul-Rosieres Air Base, France, absorbing the mission and equipment of the deactivating federalized Alabama Air National Guard 117th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. However, the base was not yet ready for jet aircraft, so only the 10th TRW Wing Headquarters was sent to Toul. The propeller-driven RB-26s of the former 112th TRS were absorbed by the 1st TRS at Toul, while the two RF-80A squadrons assigned to the 32d and 38th TRS were located at Neubiberg and Farstenfeldbruck Air Bases near Munich, West Germany.
Ongoing construction delays in France forced the wing's transfer on May 9th, 1953, to the newly-completed Spangdahlem AB in West Germany where all the squadrons of the wing were united. The Republic RF-84F Thunderflash began to arrive in the fall of 1955, and the RF-80As were returned to the United States for Air National Guard use. Martin RB-57A Canberras replaced the World War II vintage RB-26s in 1954 to perform night Reconnaissance missions. In 1956, the 10th TRW began to transition to the RB-66 and WB-66 Destroyers, and the RF-84Fs were transferred to the 66th TRW at Phalsbourg-Bourscheid Air Base, France. In 1959, France placed new limits on the type of American forces stationed on its soil. Specifically, USAF nuclear-capable aircraft were to be removed from French bases. To accommodate the French restrictions, USAFE moved the 49th TFW from Etain-Rouvres Air Base to Spangdahlem and the 10th TRW was relocated to RAF Alconbury on July 20th, 1959.
With its headquarters at RAF Alconbury, the 10 TRW operated its B-66 'Destroyers' from RAFs Alconbury, Bruntingthorpe, and Chelveston. In addition, the 10th TRW frequently rotated its aircraft to Toul AB, France establishing a detachment there until France's withdrawal from NATO's integrated military in 1965. Also in 1965, the 10 TRW received a new airplane, the RF-4C Phantom II. The wing's mission changed slightly in 1976. It inactivated two of its three RF-4C squadrons. The 527th Tactical Fighter Training Aggressor Squadron, flying F-5E - Tiger IIs - activated at RAF Alconbury.