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McDonnell Douglas Phantom man

F-4 Phantom II

Bits and pieces

    This page will be my attempt to illustrate a few details of the F-4 and try and highlight some of the differences between models.  It will in no way be an in depth effort.

A good place to start is with the office:


                  rear cockpit
F-4D Rear cocpit

                  Forward cockpit
F-4G Rear cockpit
RF-4C forward cockpit

In the top row:   An F-4D forward instrument panel, and two shots of the rear of an F-4D.  The bottom row contain both an F-4G front and rear and an RF-4C forward.  These photos do not show a lot of detail, but the do provide some idea of colors and panel arrangements.


Martin Baker seat

All F-4s used versions of the Martin Baker ejection seat.  (CB)

Pylons and fuel tanks

Navy inner pylon
Air Force inner pylon

 Two different types of inboard pylons were used:  A straight, pointed (triangular) pylon for Navy F-4s (left) and a rounded one on Air Force aircraft (right).  (CB)

                    centerline tank F-4
                    center line tank 2
F-4 wing tank

The F-4 usually carried 600 gallon tanks on the center pylon and 370 gallon tanks on the outboard wing pylons.  The photo on the left is of the first type of tank carried by USN, USMC and most USAF F-4s.  The second one is of an tank looking similar to an F-15 tank later carried on USAF aircraft.  The photo on the right shows the 370 gallon wing tanks.  (CB)


Short A/B can
                  A/B can

Two types of burner cans were used on the J79 powered F-4s.  The one on the left was the shorter version used on the Navy's F-4A, F-4B, RF-4B, F-4N and the Air Forces' F-4C, F-4D and the RF-4C. (CB)
The longer version on the right was used on F-4J, F-4S, F-4E, F-4EJ, F-4F, F-4G and RF-4E aircraft. (CB)
The Rolls Royce Spey powered F-4K and F-4M (RN and RAF) had a different style of burner can that looked like a large barrel.


Navy refuelling probe
Air Force refuelling
Add on refuelling

Navy refueling is via "probe and drogue", using a probe on the receiving aircraft to engage a drogue (or basket) reeled out from the tanker.  The Navy F-4 accomplished this using  a retractable refueling probe on the starboard side of the aircraft (left).  The Air Force uses a "flying boom" that is guided by a boom operator aboard the tanker.  The boom is actually flown close to the aircraft and a retractable probe is inserted into a receptacle on the spine of the F-4 (center).  A third type of refueling is accomplished with an add on unit that consists of a fixed probe attached to the right side of the F-4, with plumbing running up the right side of the aircraft and into the Air Force receptacle (right).  The aircraft in the photo was operated by Flight Systems inc., and was modified to be able to operate and refuel with Navy needs.  This system is also used by the Israeli Air Force.  (CB)


F-4F stab

    F-4s in were first produced with a stabilizer with a smooth leading edge, or "un-slotted" as illustrated by the F-4F to the left. This also lacks the "fish plate" reinforcement common to Air Force F-4s. (CB)
    The second photo of a Spanish AF F-4C shows an "un-slotted" stab with the "fish plate". This was the standard for F-4C, F-4D and RF-4C Phantoms in Air Force service. (CB)

    The third photo illustrates the "slotted" stabilizer fitted to some F-4Bs and all F-4N, F-4J and F-4S Phantoms. (CB)

    The final photo illustrates the "slotted" stabilizer with "fish plate" as used on F-4E and F-4G Phantoms. (CB)

"Slotted" stabilizers were fitted to most U.S. F-4s.  The photo to the left shows the slot fairly well.  The aircraft is an F-4N, the dents and dings on the leading edge are from the catapult bridle rebounding from the flight deck and striking the aircraft during launch.  The was quite common on USN F-4s.  The next photo is also of the stabilizer on an F-4N.  The next to last is an F-4E and the final one is of a German AF F-4F.  Note the "fish plate" between the bare metal portion and the painted portion.  This was unique to USAF F-4s and GAF F-4F.  (CB)

    A better view of the slots in the leading edge of the stabilizer. (CB)

Wheels and landing gear
F-4 Narrow main tire
F-4 wide tire
F-4 wide tire
F-4 main gear

F-4 nose gear

The early Navy F-4s utilized a narrower main tire than later models.   The F4H-1 (F-4A), F-4B and RF-4Bs up to Bureau number 153115 used this type of wheel.   The F-4s with the narrower wheel had flat main gear doors and a smooth upper wing.    The next two shots are of the wider style of tire used on the F-4J, RF-4Bs above Bu. No. 157342, all USAF F-4s and RF-4s and all export models.  The photo of the inside of an F-4 wheel is the right main tire of an F-4S.  Navy F-4 wheels have a single nut in the center of the wheel, where as Air Force wheels have eight bolts attaching the wheel to the landing gear.  The rod sticking up and back from the strut in the photo of the Navy wheel is a "shrink link" that compresses the main gear as it retracts allowing it to fit into the gear well.  The outside main wheel door shows the bulged door that allowed the fatter wheel to retract into the wing.  The top of the wing was also bulged.   Nose gear of an F-4N from the right side.  All U.S. F-4 nose wheels were similar.  The final Shot is of a nose gear from behind.  Note that the scissors link is offset to the left to clear the nose door. (CB)

Slats and flaps

F-4N Leading edge slats
F-4J Leading edge flaps
F-4 Wing fold

Most F-4s were initially produced with leading edge flaps and Boundary Layer Control (BLC).  The F-4N on the left and The F-4J in the center show the leading edge flaps in the deployed position.  The photo of the wing fold area on the right shows the duct work for the BLC in the leading edge of the wing.

F-4S Leading edge slats
F-4E Leading edge slats
F-4S strap

Leading Edge Slats (LES) were retrofitted to F-4Js upgraded to F-4S standards.  (Some of the first F-4S conversions had the updated avionics, but not the slats, those being added at a later time).  Early F-4Es received slats as a conversion also, with later airframes produced with slats.  The F-4Ss and early Es had external straps under the wing to "beef-up" the structure.  F-4Es produced with slats had thicker skin to strengthen the wings.

From left to right:  F-4S slatted wing, F-4E slats, and the external under wing strap fitted to F-4S aircraft.  (CB)


F-4 flaps were common among Phantoms, in this case an F-4N.  (CB)


USN F-4 catapult hook

The USN F-4s were attached to an aircraft carrier's catapault by a bridle running from a hook under each wing to the cat shuttle.  When the aircraft became airborne the bridle disengged the hooks.  Upon occassion the bridle would rebound into the air and strike parts of the aircraft.  It was not too unusual to see chips taken out of the trailing edge of the flaps and dents on the leading edges of the stabilizors.  In fact most stabs on USN F-4s had dings in the leading edge.

The photo on the left shows the cat hooks (red) on the underside. (CB)

When most aircraft lose an engine (or two) they also lose hydraulics and electrics.  On jet aircraft with out an APU there is usually some form of Ram Air Turbine (RAT) that is deployed to provide back-up for both.

On the right is a RAT on an F-4D.  (CB)

TISEO system

Late model F-4Es had the TISEO (
Target Identification System Electro-Optical ) system added to the left wing.  This was a steerable, stabilized, telescopic camera used to identify targets before engaging.

End of the line Skinned Phantom

The end of the line...  Most USN Phantoms ended their days at MASDC/AMARC* donating piece to keep other F-4s in the air.  In this case an F-4B, Bu. No. 149446 has just about reached the end of its existence at MASDC in 1979.  Ever wondered what the inside of an airplane looked like?   A former VMFA-531 F-4N at AMARC in the late 1980s.  (CB)

*  The "bone yard" at Davis-Monthan AFB was identified as MASDC until the 1980s.  The acronym meant Military Aircraft Storage and Disposal Center.  The name was changed to AMARC (Aerospace Maintenance And Regeneration Center), a new name for the same functions.

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Clifford Bossie

Page created 05-31-03

Modified 01-22-21