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If ever a jet fighter aircraft deserved to be called  a "brute," that airplane would have to be the big, tough, fast and highly versatile McDonnell F-4 Phantom. Developed by McDonnell for the U.S. Navy, the Phantom is distinguished by its unusual design. The center section of its low wing juts straight out from the fuselage and is swept back at a sharp 45-degree angle, while the wingtips are turn upward, resulting in a "dog-tooth" leading edge and considerable dihedral. In contrast, the tailplane droops downward at a 23-degree angle.

Designed as a long-range, all-weather interceptor and attack bomber, the Phantom was 56 feet long and had a 38.5-foot wingspan. It was powered by two General Electric J79 turbojet engines mounted on either side of the fuselage and producing nearly 18,000 pounds of static thrust each with afterburners. The aircraft was manned by a crew of two seated in tandem seats which are equipped for automatic ejection.

The Phantom had a maximum range of almost 2,000 miles and a combat radius of from 494 to 786 miles, depending on the type of mission being flown. This was the greatest range of any U.S. Navy jet fighter of its day.

Despite the Phantom's loaded weight of more than 40,000 pounds, it was an exceptionally fast aircraft, easily capable of Mach 2 speeds at high altitude. The Phantom was also fast as a low-level attack bomber, and set an official world speed record on August 21, 1961, when it covered an extremely hazardous course at 902.72 mph (Mach 1.2) at a maximum altitude of 328 feet.  At that speed, the aircraft flashed over the nearly two-mile-long course in just a few seconds.

The Phantom was equipped to carry a bewildering variety of offensive weapons and defensive electronic gear, including several different types of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and as many as twenty-two 500-pound conventional bombs, as well as nuclear bombs. For defense against ground and air attack, the Phantom could be equipped with highly sophisticated electronic devices that can jam a potential enemy's radar aiming equipment.

The Phantom completed its maiden flight in 1958 and was still in service, flying combat missions during the late 70's..


The preceding information was extracted from the pamphlet,
"The Great Airplanes Sterling Silver Miniature Collection", published by The Franklin Mint, 1979.
Permission was granted to ALLSTAR by The Franklin Mint to use the preceding materials.
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Updated: March 12, 2004