May 10, 1972 Lt. Randy “Duke” Cunningham and his RIO, Lt. (JG) Willie “Irish”
Driscoll from the USS Constellation’s Fighter Squadron VF-96 “the Fighting
Falcons” departed in their F-4J Phantom II “Showtime”. Their job was to bomb
a rail yard and then provide cover for A-7’s on the same mission.

During the mission Mig-17s arrived and so began the battle. Cunningham
immediately found himself with a Mig-17 at his 6. Showtime broke sharply and
the Mig overshot the F-4 and Driscoll was now behind the Mig and destroyed it
with a Sidewinder missile.
Now able to concentrate on other planes Cunningham saw his XO with 3 Mig-
17s closing in on him. Duke told the XO to break so he could get a shot at the
Mig the XO obviously didn’t see. The XO thought Cunningham was talking about
the other 2 Migs that he knew about so he ignored the advice and continued on.
Cunningham made one more transmission warning the XO if he didn’t break
now he was going to die. This time the XO broke giving Cunningham a clear
shot and Mig number 2 was dealt with.

Seemingly out numbered the F-4s decided it was time to run and fight another
day so they sped off towards the carrier. As they approach the coast
Cunningham found himself flying head on with a Mig-17. Forgetting that the Mig
had nose guns Cunningham committed mistake number one, he continued to fly
straight at the Mig. It wasn’t until the nose of the Mig lit up from gun fire that
Driscoll realized his error and immediately began to climb. Looking over he saw
the Mig pilot had done the same thing so he decided to pull over the top and
committed mistake number 2 because this put Showtime in front of the Mig
again and gave the pilot a clear shot. Miraculously the first shots missed and
Cunningham rolled in another direction. This cat and mouse went on for what
seemed forever with each pilot gaining and losing the advantage several time.
The opportunity to break off the engagement came but Cunningham’s ego got
in the way so he became even more determined to get the Mig rather than go
back to the carrier and tell his buddies he couldn’t take out a Mig. When
Cunningham told the RIO that they were going to get this Mig, the reply was “I’
m right behind you!”

Finally with the Mig once more on his tail Duke cut the throttle, slammed on the
speed brakes (Top Gun style) and as the Mig went speeding past he fired a
missile that finally ended the duel. Just as they thought they were home free a
SAM took them out forcing the crew to bail out. The two men lost sight of each
other and Cunningham landed in the ocean and was attacked by a gun boat but
he managed to elude them and was later picked up by a rescue helicopter that
also rescued Driscoll.

The two became the first crew to shoot down 3 aircraft in one day using only
missiles and combined with 3 previous kills it also made them Vietnam Aces.

Cunningham stayed in the military until 1987 and in 1990 he was elected to
Congress. He became a very influential politician and this should have been the
topping on a stellar career but he was found guilty of accepting $2.4 million in
bribes, committing mail fraud, wire fraud and income tax evasion. He had to
resign from Congress; he had to repay $1.8 million and was sentenced to 8
years and 4 months in prison.

Regardless of his political career and criminal activities Cunningham was and is
an F-4 ACE.

The F-4J was the final version of the Phantom II produced for the US Navy and
US Marine Corps. It constituted an improved version of the F-4B and flew
operationally for the first time in 1966. Of this version, 522 aircraft were
constructed between 1966 and 1972. Because of increased weight and more
demanding sink rates, the F-4J was fitted with a sturdier landing gear, which
required modifications to the inner wings, as had been the case for the F-4C. F-
4B aircraft were later converted to F-4N versions in a service life extension
program. Similarly, 248 (of the 302 planned) F-4J aircraft went through a
process in the St. Louis factory to give them more structural strength, a longer
fatigue life, updated mission equipment (AN/AGW-10 radar) and a slatted wing.
These modified F-4J aircraft were designated F-4S and flew for the first time in
1977. The conversion also saved 25% on aircraft maintenance. The F-4S is the
last F-4 version produced.

Specification for the F-4J

Engines: 2 X General Electric J79-GE-8B/8C/10 turbojets, 11,870 lb.s.t dry,
17,900 lb.s.t. with afterburner.

Maximum speed: 1,584 mph at 48,000 ft. (Mach 2.4), 875 mph at sea level
(Mach 1.15).
Initial climb rate: 41,250 fpm.
Service ceiling: 70,000 ft.
Combat ceiling: 54,700 ft.
Combat range: 596 miles, maximum range 1,956 miles with maximum
external fuel.

30,770 lbs empty.
46,833 lbs gross.
41,399 lbs combat weight

Wingspan: 38 ft. 5 in.
Wing area: 530 square ft.
Length: 58 ft. 3.75 in.
Height: 16 ft. 3 in.

Maximum internal fuel: in fuselage tanks 1,347 US gal.
Internal wing tanks: 630 gal.
Maximum external fuel: 3,317 US gal.
600 US gal in a centerline tank, 370 US gal in each of two tanks that could be
carried underneath the outer under wing pylons.

4 X AIM-7 Sparrow semi-active radar homing air-to-air missiles in semi-
recessed slots in the fuselage belly.
2 X to 4 AIM-9 Sidewinder infra-red homing air-to-air missiles carried under the
wings on the inboard pylons.
Maximum offensive load of up to 16,000 lbs carried on the centerline and 4
under wing hard points.
Hobby Master 1/72 Air Power Series
McDonnell-Douglas F- 4J Phantom II
VF-96, the "Fighting Falcons", Vietnam 1972, "Showtime 100"
Randy "Duke" Cunningham & Willie "Irish" Driscoll
True 1/72 scale.
Professionally painted.
Great attention to detail.
All markings are Tampoed (pad applied).
Option to display the model on a stand that is provided.
Model can be shown with the landing gear in the down or up positions.
Loads of optional armament provided.
Canopy can be displayed open or closed.
Pilot figures.
Extremely heavy metal with a minimum of plastic.
Highly collectable
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