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McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II

DAYTON, Ohio -- McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (Photo courtesy of Airshow Traveler)

DAYTON, Ohio -- McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (Photo courtesy of Airshow Traveler)

DAYTON, Ohio -- McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

In the early 1960s, the USAF recognized the need for more tactical reconnaissance aircraft to reinforce the RF-101s then in service. The USAF chose a modification of the F-4C fighter. The RF-4C development program began in 1962, and the first production aircraft made its initial flight on May 18, 1964. The Air Force officially accepted a total of 499 RF-4Cs.

The RF-4C can carry a variety of cameras in three different stations in its nose section. It could take photos at both high and low altitude, day or night. The RF-4C carried no offensive armament, although during the last few years of its service some were fitted with four AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles for defense.

The 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron became the first operational unit to fly the RF-4C. In October 1965 that unit deployed to Southeast Asia to provide photographic reconnaissance of the growing conflict in South Vietnam. In the following years, RF-4Cs flew reconnaissance missions around the world, including Desert Shield/Desert Storm in Iraq in 1990-1991. The Air Force retired all of its RF-4Cs by 1995.

The RF-4C on display was delivered to the USAF on Sept. 9, 1965. It served in Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Europe, Cuba and the Middle East. During Desert Shield/Desert Storm, this aircraft flew a total of 172 missions, more than any other F-4 aircraft. When flown to the museum in May 1994, it had more than 7,300 hours of flying time.

TECHNICAL NOTES:
Engines: Two General Electric J79-GE-15s of 17,000 lbs. thrust each
Maximum speed: 1,384 mph
Range: 1,632 miles without aerial refueling
Ceiling: 55,200 ft.
Span: 38 ft. 5 in.
Length: 62 ft. 10 in.
Height: 16 ft. 6 in.

Click here to return to the Cold War Gallery.

 

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