Today in History – May 27, 1958 – 1st flight of the F-4 Phantom II

27 May 1958 – The F-4 “first entered service with the Navy in 1961 before it was adopted by the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force, and by the mid-1960s it had become a major part of their air arms. Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981 with a total of 5,195 aircraft built, making it the most produced American supersonic military aircraft in history…Beginning in 1959, it set 15 world records for in-flight performance, including an absolute speed record and an absolute altitude record.

The F-4 was used extensively during the Vietnam War. It served as the principal air superiority fighter for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps and became important in the ground-attack and aerial reconnaissance roles late in the war. During the Vietnam War, one U.S. Air Force pilot, two weapon systems officers (WSOs),[one U.S. Navy pilot, and one radar intercept officer (RIO) became aces by achieving five aerial kills against enemy fighter aircraft.

The F-4 continued to form a major part of U.S. military airpower 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, the F-14 Tomcat in the U.S. Navy, and the F/A-18 Hornet in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.

The F-4 Phantom II remained in use by the U.S. in the reconnaissance and Wild Weasel (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) roles in the 1991 Gulf War, finally leaving service in 1996. It was also the only aircraft used by both U.S. flight demonstration teams: the United States Air Force Thunderbirds (F-4E) and the United States Navy Blue Angels (F-4J).” (1)

Robin Olds famously flew the F-4 and “The Ballad of Robin Olds” captures his history. As Dick Jonas says “that beautiful piece of machinery became the mistress that our wives and girlfriends had to compete with for our attention and affection, and the women knew who came first because we were fighter pilots”.

To listen to the Ballad of Robin Olds by Dick Jonas click here

Other great F-4 songs include “I fly the F-4D“, click to hear the song; and the band Voltraid’s song “The Phantom Song”


Source (1) Wikipedia


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