McDonnell Douglas F-4E-32-MC (S/N 66-0338) of the 110st Tactical Fighter Squadron, 131st Tactical Fighter Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, in flight over Missouri in celebration of "30 years of Phabulous Phantoms." (U.S. Air Force photo)
Battle-damaged F-4E-32-MC (S/N 67-321) of the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing. 1Lts. Wesley E. Zimmerman and David J. Craighead successfully recovered their crippled F-4E after receiving serious damage in engagements with MiGs, SAMs and AAA. With two hydraulic systems gone, the rudder shot away, no drag chute, half the trailing edge slat on each side destroyed, and moderate damage to the right engine and wings, they nursed their fighter home. Despite the high speed required by the no-flap approach, Lt. Zimmerman made a successful landing and barrier engagement. (U.S. Air Force photo)
McDonnell Douglas F-4E-36-MC (S/N 67-371) of the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Rams," 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, from Korat RTAFB, over Southeast Asia on May 28, 1970, waiting for IFR. Photo was taken from KC-135. (U.S. Air Force photo)
McDonnell Douglas F-4E-33-MC (S/N 66-0351) in flight over Mt. McKinley on Aug. 29, 1979. This aircraft is probably from the 21st Tactical Fighter Wing (18th Tactical Fighter Squadron), Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The F-4E is essentially an F-4D with improved J79-GE-17 engines (900 pounds more static sea level thrust each) and an M61A1 Vulcan 20mm cannon. Operational experience gained in Vietnam had a direct influence on the addition of the cannon. The air-to-air missile fire-to-hit ratios were low and air combat usually degenerated to subsonic "dogfighting" where the F-4 was at a decided disadvantage when flying against more maneuverable enemy aircraft (MiG-17 and MiG-21). The hydraulically powered wing-folding mechanism and the emergency ram-air turbine were removed to save weight and a seventh fuel cell was added. The addition of self-sealing fuel tanks starting with block 41 aircraft lowered the fuel capacity by 139 gallons but provided much better combat survivability.
The USAF Thunderbirds used the F-4E from June 1969 until November 1973, replacing it with the Northrop T-38, in part, because of the public perception of unacceptably high operating costs for the F-4E.
McDonnell Douglas produced 5,057 F-4s, of which 1370 were F-4Es. Mitsubishi received 11 F-4 kits and built 127 of their F-4EJs under license, bringing the total to 5,195 airframes. The USAF ordered 993 E models, but more than 100 were diverted or direct delivered to other nations. The F-4 was flown by the USAF, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Germany, Spain, Iran, Turkey, Greece and Egypt.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force has several F-4 variants in its collection, including the F-4C, the RF-4C, the YF-4E, the F-4G and an F-4 cockpit mockup.
USN/USMC; 29 loaned to USAF
Export F-4E for Germany
Royal Navy; FG.1
Royal Air Force; FGR.2
USN/USMC; from F-4B
USN/USMC; from F-4J
- F-4A was originally designated F4H-1F (and XF4H-1) by the U.S. Navy.
- Dual-control F-4As were redesignated TF-4A.
- F-4B was originally designated F4H-1 by the U.S. Navy.
- RF-4B was originally designated F4H-1P by the U.S. Marine Corps.
- Seven F-4Bs were converted to QF-4B drone aircraft.
- F-4C was originally designated F-110A by the USAF.
- The U.S. Navy loaned the USAF 29 F-4Bs for service evaluation (see F-110A).
- Twelve F-4Gs (Navy designation) were out of service before the USAF F-4G "Wild Weasel" aircraft were converted from F-4Es.
- 138 of 140 F-4EJs were built in Japan.
- 32 F-4Ds were built for the Iranian Air Force.
- The USAF F-4G was initially designated EF-4E.
USAF F-4 numbers:
- F-4C -- 583 [does not include 29 F-4Bs (F-110A) on loan from U.S. Navy]
- RF-4C -- 505
- F-4D -- 793
- F-4E -- 993 (116 later converted to F-4G) (as ordered, some E models diverted/direct delivered to other nations)
- TOTAL: 2,874
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: Various combinations of bombs, rockets, missiles and 20mm cannon; up to 16,000 lbs. of external stores including nuclear and conventional bombs Engines: Two General Electric J79-GE-17 of 17,900 lbs. thrust each with afterburner Combat speed: 1,245 knots (ferry mission with one 600 gal. and two 370 gal. external tanks) Cruising speed: 504 knots average speed, cruise-climb profile; 32,800 ft. initial, 40,400 ft. final in 2.79 hours Range: 1,401 nautical miles (ferry mission) Service ceiling: 58,750 ft., maximum power, 100 FPM climb rate Span: 38 ft. 5 in. Length: 63 ft. 0 in. Height: 16 ft. 6 in. Weight: 61,795 lbs. maximum takeoff Crew: Two