Hobby Master 1-72 Air Power
HA19021 McDonnell Douglas F-4B 200, VF-111 "Sundowners", USS Coral Sea, 1970s

One of the most famous and easily recognized fighter aircraft of the post-WWII era was the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II. This aircraft was developed as a private venture by the aircraft company but was soon ordered by the USN as a carrier-based attack aircraft. Its first flight took place on May 27, 1958 and it entered active service in December 1960. It wasn’t long after the F-4B appeared that a fly-off was set up with USAF front-line fighters. It was no contest, the F-4 performed so well that the USAF ordered their own variant, the F-4C. As time went on, the F-4 evolved into well over a dozen variants.

VF-111 “Sundowners” re-equipped with the F-4B Phantom II in early 1971. In November 1971 VF-111 returned to the Gulf of Tonkin onboard the USS Coral Sea where they spent 148 days. 29 F-4s were loaned to the USAF when they were planning to acquire the Phantom as their primary fighter. These aircraft had USAF tail numbers and FJ-170, FJ-171 etc. on the fuselage. One of these 29 was VF-111 NL200 151000 CAG given tail number 62-12184 FJ-184 and when the USAF acquired their F-4Cs these 29 aircraft were returned to the USN.

Specification of the F-4B Phantom II
Number of “B” variant built for USN and USMC - 649
Engines – 2 x General Electric J79-GE-8A/-8B/-8C turbojets, 10,900 lb.s.t. dry, 17,000 lb.s.t. with afterburner
Maximum speed @ Sea level - 845 mph @ 48,000 ft - 1,485 mph Initial climb rate - 28,000 fpm Service ceiling - 62,000 ft Combat ceiling - 56,850 ft. Combat range Normal - 400 miles Maximum range – 2,300 miles with maximum fuel load
Empty - 28,000 pounds Gross - 44,600 pounds Combat - 38,500 pounds Maximum take-off - 54,600 pounds
Wingspan - 38 ft 5 in Wing area - 530 sq. ft Length - 58 ft 3.75 in Height - 16 ft 3 in
Maximum fuel load Internal in fuselage – 1,358 U.S. Gallons Internal in wings – 630 U.S. Gallons Total external fuel load – 1,988 U.S. Gallons Maximum external fuel load In center-line tank under the fuselage - 600 U.S. Gallons In 2 x under-wing tanks - 740 U.S. Gallons Combined fuel load – 3,328 U.S. Gallons
4 x AIM-7D or -7E Sparrow semi-active radar homing missiles in under-fuselage recesses Inner under-wing pylons could each accommodate an additional Sparrow or a pair of AIM-9 Sidewinder infrared homing missiles In ground attack mode, could carry up to 16,000 pounds of ordnance on centerline pylon underneath the fuselage and on four under-wing hard-points