F-4C Phantom II References & Resources
The F-4C was the first USAF Phantom model, purchased after the F4H-1 had been evaluated against the F-106 under Project Highspeed. Despite the Phantom’s naval origins, the Air Force picked the type as the service’s next fighter, as the F4H demonstrated better performance and maintainability than the “Six”. Additionally, although the Phantom had been fielded by the USN (initially) as an interceptor, it had considerable potential capability as a strike aircraft, something the F-106 lacked.
While the initial order for USAF aircraft (at first known as the F-110A Spectre) was being started, the Navy loaned the Air Force some thirty F-4Bs for familiarization and training, with the first F-4C flying in May 1963. The 12th TFW took the Phantom to war in 1965, with the type’s first kills, of a pair of North Vietnamese MiG-17s, taking place on 10 July of that year.
The USAF would lose seven F-4Cs in air to air combat during the Vietnam conflict, with five being downed by MiG-17s, another to a MiG-21, and the last to Chinese aircraft. A further eleven were destroyed by SA-2 Guideline SAMs.
No new-build F-4Cs were exported, but forty ex-USAF aircraft were supplied to Spain in the early 1970s to replace F-86s, these receiving the local designation C.12
Some 35 F-4Cs were reworked as “EF-4C” Wild Weasel defense suppression aircraft – development began not long after SAMs were first deployed to North Vietnam, but fitting the Weasel avionics in the Phantom airframe proved to be difficult, and the resulting aircraft were only interim types, with the definitive Weasel Phantom, the F-4G, not appearing until long after Vietnam.
Raytheon ad showing an AIM-7 on a cart in front of an F-4C Aviation Week & Space Technology October 29, 1962 p.8
Photos: “USAF Tests Laser Rangefinder” Aviation Week & Space Technology November 1, 1965 p.83 F-4C 63-7616 [Note: this aircraft was later shot down over North Vietnam]
“Aloha Air Force” Koku-Fan 1981, No.8 Color photography showing F-4Cs of the Hawaii ANG’s 199th TFS, showing aircraft in both the SEA camouflage and ADC gray paint schemes.
Photo: In-flight view of a Michigan ANG F-4C Aviation Week & Space Technology March 19, 1984 p.57
Color profile of F-4C 63-7656 in the original white/gray TAC scheme Air International March 1994 p.127
Pete Watson “Wolfpack Leader” Airfix Model World 2013-12 finishing the FEX 200mm bust of Robin Olds
David Lerngyel “Vietnam Phantom First to Fight” Model Aircraft May 2017 Building the 1/48 Eduard F-4C kit as an aircraft of the 45th TFS at Ubon
Albert Grandolini “Operation Bolo & Project Silver Dawn” The Aviation Historian 21/October 2017 Includes a color profile of F-4C 63-7680
Larry Davis Planes, Names, and Dames Vol.III: 1955-1975 Squadron/Signal Publications p.43: photo of F-4C Weasel Jail Bait; p.55 11th TRS F-4C War is Hell
Dana Bell Air War over Vietnam, Volume II p.17: color photo of F-4C 63-7544 of the 8th TFW, armed with rocket pods
Robert J. Archer United States Military Aviation: The Air Force p.157: photo – side view of F-4C 63-7640/ADWC
Robert D. Archer Edwards Air Force Base: Open House at the USAF Flight Test Center 1957-1966 p.158-159: photos of F-4Cs 63-7410 and 63-7445
Graham Robson Abandoned and Forsaken Aeroplanes ex Michigan ANG F-4C as a BDR airframe in the UK; F-4C in European camo as a training hulk for the 35th TFW; former Texas ANG F-4C in the UK