Having flown almost every type of military aircraft made since the P-51 Mustang (and it's nemesis, the Mitsubishi Zero) I can easily report that the F-4 Phantom ll is the most versatile and longest serving military jet ever made in the following categories: Best Fighter, Best Fighter/Bomber and Best Interceptor on the planet.
This aircraft did it ALL folks! It could be configured to any standard and was so far ahead of it's time, that some versions continued to fly until the late 90's. It was engineered in the early 60's.
My favorite version is the F-4G (Germany) with Canadian engines, which far over-powered anything on the planet at that time (the SR-71 could fly much faster, but took awhile to get past 4000 mph. Also, for you SR-71 speed freaks, the SR-71 could not handle, it was made to fly straight and fast only).
Not that it was ever made public, but the F-4G version could fly at up to 4000 miles per hour for short periods. I once raced a much newer (by some 20 years) Soviet Blackjack bomber, over water near beautiful South Africa and kept pace with it until it cleared South African airspace. The wings glowed red afterwards (I'm not kidding) and I was ordered to fly at much lower speeds for over one hour, to cool the wings, prior to landing.
All F-4s featured a unique wing and tail design, which gave it one-of-a-kind handling characteristics. Many enemy fighter pilots never 'locked-up' a Phantom during their entire career, because giving some rudder on the F-4 caused strange things to happen - as compared to other fighters. Instead of losing altitude in a turn, the F-4 gained altitude while turning and could stay in a continuous turn (at dogfight speeds - 250-550 mph) all day long! This is a great advantage in a dogfight, as at low altitudes, the competition was crashing into the ground trying to stay in the turn, in order to 'lock-on' to a Phantom.
As I mentioned previously, most F-4s were more than powerful enough, with the possible exception of J-79 'smoker' engine and the RR Spey engine variants, which were designed - not for explosive getaways, but for other purposes.
This advantage - present even with a full load of ordinance! - allowed many Phantom pilots to fight their way successfully into a zone, drop their loads successfully, then protect other bombers coming into the zone successfully, or back up other fighter pilots close-by successfully, or hundreds of miles away. With such instant speed available, a dogfight starting 200 miles away, was only a few seconds travel time in the F-4!
Astounding power, weird handling, huge weapons choice, unbelievable ordinance tonnage capability (yes, I did say 'tonnage') tough enough to withstand small arms fire and other AA, long service life, easy maintenance, parts interoperabililty, nuclear capable, aircraft carrier landing capable, all-weather, every fuel tolerant - what else do you want in a fighter, fighter/bomber and interceptor?
By the way, even today some things about the F-4 Phantom ll are still classified! Sorry I can't tell you more.
Hey Spooky, good arguments and interesting to hear that some info is classified! Go on, tell us some classified stuff
AirSpace - more than just hot air
Something sounds odd .......
F-4G (Germany) ...... but the German variant is the F-4F
with Canadian engines ...... but the German variant uses German built (MTU) J79-17A turbojets
4000 mph ...... ?!?!?!?!? ...... titanium made Phantom ?
Blackjack bomber intercept over water near South Africa ...... both too far away from their bases
If the Phantom is so extraordinary, why they are building costly new generation aircraft ?
"F-4G (Germany) ...... but the German variant is the F-4F"
Quite right Rapier.
The F-4G is the USAF "Wild Weasel" variant used for attacking SAM sites.
Just to put things in perspective, I doubt very much whether the aircraft holds any secrets, at least as far as its performance is concerned. On special highly visible record attempts, an F4 achieved 1,600 mph (1,400 knots) using water-injection. But more usually, its max. speed was Mach 2.23, 1,470 knots and, of course, much lower at low level. Cruise speed was around 500 knots...depending on configuration etc. The highest zoom-climb was a tad over 100,000 feet with dead engines and back in the '60s there were many time-to-climb records set. There is a mammoth volume of credible information available on the many variants.
A truly wonderful aircraft of course, which should be placed very well up on our list.
Whoops....belay that 1,470 knot figure above and replace with 1,280 knots..and that's an order sailor!
It is very early here in Noo Zealand and the figures on my trusty 45 year old Jepp. CR-2 whizz wheel are getting smaller as my eyes get older. But we have travelled many miles together so I still like the feel of the non-electric fail-safe device.......
Speed record (absolute)
22 December 1961
Edwards AFB, California
Lieutnant Colonel Robert B. Robinson (USMC)
1,606.342 mph (2585.086 km/h)
Source: McDonnell F-4 Phantom Spirit of the Skies
Edited by Jon Lake
Aerospace Publishing Ltd - 1992
Thank you for your email. Germany built (and rebuilt) many variants of the F-4 aircraft throughits service life. Some were interceptors, some pure fighters and some,fighter/bombers.
Different configurations required variations in performance envelope- therefore, several different engines (and tail designs) were tried and used. To quote you, "...... but the German variant uses German built (MTU)J79-17A turbojets..." is like saying Ford Motor Company only producesone car line and uses only one engine! Of course, every nation receivingfighter jets tweaks them to suit the local situation - includingengine mods or outright replacement. The Cold War as far as air power is concerned, was a very differentwar in Europe than here in North America, with MUCH differentrequirements for aircraft - and pilots, by the way. Not all of this information has been made public - as I pointed outin my post - some aspects of the F-4 Phantom ll remain classified tothis day, sorry I can't say more. Yes, 4000 miles per hour. I don't know what they were made of - Ijust flew them. If I knew advanced alloy metallurgy I might be able tohelp somewhat, but would not be allowed to tell you anyways. Sorry. But itis almost the same material that is used today for air superiorityaircraft. "Too far away from their bases..." Wrong. During the Cold Warmilitary aircraft were based all over the world. We flew from South Africa'sown base - among others - worldwide. A strong contingent of Germanaircraft were based in South Africa and I was privileged to be based therefor a short time. The thinking at the time was along these lines. 'South Africa is hometo many valuable Cold War materials (ores) required for themanufacture of military equipment of the highest order - not to mention a verystrategic piece of land/sea space. If the Soviets very suddenly invadedand possessed that nation (which would have been well within theircapabilities at that time) it would be extremely difficult to evict them.South Africa's forces, no matter how valiant, would lose in one day'sfighting.' We were there at the invitation of the South African government andthe Soviets sent the odd test our way, just to see if the deterent(German F-4s and other planes) were still viable. (Soviet pilots by the way,were very professional and competent, although the political systemswere at that time on a collision-course). I must say that the South African forces, although tiny in comparisonto Germany, let alone the Soviet Union, were extremely brave and readyto take on any task, no matter how mind-numbing the odds against them.Something needs to be said about their courage and their sacrifice -we were proud to be there assisting them. Planes are just pieces ofmetal, its the human factor that makes the difference in any cold or hotwar. Regarding your comment, "If the Phantom is so extraordinary, why theyare building costly new generation aircraft ?" is well-taken. However,as good as a 1960's designed aircraft could be, and it was light-yearsahead of its time, the competition closed and surpassed that gap. But for its time it was almost untouchable in the hands of anexperienced pilot. Phantom's were lost only on account of inexperiencedpilots, running out of fuel during an 'overwhelming odds' dogfight (can'tstop for air-to-air refueling in the middle of a dogfight) where the enemywould suddenly and unexpectedly, throw 5, then 7, then 10, or 15fighter jets at an unsuspecting single F-4 or double F-4 formation, just tosee how good we were. If there were other F-4s in the vicinity theywere only a minute or a few seconds away. Only very rarely did we lose aPhantom due to a mechanical. Why are they building new generations of aircraft? The F-4, as goodas it was, was designed in the 60's. Therefore its ability to turnsuddenly is leisurely by todays standards, also its roll rate is slower thanjets of today. Like they say, "If you can't turn - you burn." Germany provided exceptional world-class training to it's pilots andsupport staff. Similarly, the U.S Navy, U.S. Air Force and U.S.Marines, all provided outstanding training and support for F-4 pilots, althoughtactics and objectives differed widely between those services. The F-4met and often exceeded those requirements. As it was a warplane, designedfor war - or at the very least deterence - the surplus capability wasvery welcome during emergency situations. It is my personal view that the U.S. and it's allies won the Cold Warbecause they were able to outspend the Soviets during the arms race.We were only able to do so because capitalism was (is) so much moreefficient at wealth creation that we could afford to win and they couldn't.Some of us believe that we helped keep the peace until that objectivecould be met with the peaceful dissolution of the USSR. Thanks for your questions. May you always have good air beneath yourwings. SPOOKY
You are telling us about the existence of a very secret, very advanced and, I think, completely reworked (in materials, structure and engines) variant of the ubiquitous F-4 Phantom II, more close in performance to the X-15 than to the SR-71 (twice faster), but with an important plus: a maneuvering capability enabling it to outstrip every other aircraft, something like a Ferrari of the sky.
A truly remarkable piece of news !!!
At the same time, facing some legitimate doubt, you are hiding behind a sort of professional confidentiality (eg ... sorry I can't tell you more ... or ... sorry I can't say more ...).
In essence, Sir, what you are asking from us is nothing less than an act of faith.
I may be wrong, but ..... sorry, I think this is not fair.
With the utmost respect.
Oh dear oh dear! When I attempt to comprehend an F-4 that could achieve 4,000 mph in level flight, I am reminded of that great "Dad's Army" TV series. Now what what is that Captain Mainwaring used to say to Corporal Jones when the good old NCO had been engaging in some flight of fancy.........?
My wings are like a shield of steel.
If SPOOKY says it, It's The Truth!
After his stint in the German forces, he ended up at Malmstrom, AFB and we USN pilot's know of SPOOKY'S record. He was the best pilot that the USAF ever produced, period.
We salute you SPOOKY, just stay away from Miramar. OK? We've had enough of your sonic booms on early Sunday mornings.
..... If SPOOKY says it, It's The Truth! .....
Really authoritative !!!