F-4N Phantom II

NAMBP F-4N Phantom II on Display


  • Primary Function: All weather fighter-bomber.

  • Manufacturer: McDonnell Aircraft Corporation

  • Power Plant: Two General Electric J79-GE-8B turbojet engines producing 17,900 lbf (static pounds of thrust).

  • Length: 58 feet 3 inches (17.7 meters)

  • Wingspan: 38 feet 4 inches (11.6 meters)

  • Height: 16 feet 3 inches (4.9 meters)

  • Maximum Speed: 1,305 knots (1,500 miles per hour)

  • Maximum takeoff weight: 58,000 pounds (26,303 kilograms)

  • Range: 2,000 miles

  • Armament: One 20mm M61A1 Vulcan cannon (pod), Four AIM-7 Sparrow missiles, Four AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, up to 18,650 lb of weapons on nine external hardpoints.

  • Crew: 2

  • Introduction Date: 1972 (N model)

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By 1970, the Navy was beginning to be concerned about the condition of its fleet of F-4Bs, many of which were over ten years old and showing signs of old age and fatigue. In that year, a program named Bee Line was initiated in which F-4Bs were refurbished and modernized. Ultimately, 228 Navy F-4Bs went through the Bee Line program. These refurbished planes were redesignated F-4N.

Aircraft selected for conversion were sent to NAS North Island, California, where they were stripped and inspected. They were then completely rebuilt using new parts. The changes included a structural strengthening to extend the fatigue life, plus a complete rewiring. The electrical generating system was upgraded with 30-kVA constant speed alternators. The F-4N retained the thin wings and tires, the main radar, and the undernose infrared search and track detector of the F-4B.

NAMBP F-4 with Museum Director Brad Hayes in Cockpit

The F-4N was fitted with an F-4J-style slotted stabilator which helped solve "Mach tuck" problems when decelerating from supersonic speeds and which reduced approach speeds during landings. All F-4Ns had their inboard leading-edge flaps locked shut.

The F-4N was fitted with Sanders AN/ALQ-126 or -126B deceptive electronic countermeasures equipment. This included long antenna fairings mounted on the sides of the upper air intakes. These long fairings were the distinctive features which enabled F-4Ns to be externally distinguished from F-4Bs. The DECM antennae were in longer fairings than those used by the same equipment on the F-4J because of the difficulty in routing the cables.

Radar homing and warning antennae for the ALQ-126 DECM were fitted to the undersides of the intakes and wings (just aft of the undercarriage bays). These were tied into the antennae on the trailing edge (and sometimes on the leading edge as well) of the vertical fin.

F-4 Cockpit with "Living History" Pilot
F-4 Cockpit with "Living History" Pilot

Other changes included a helmet sight Visual Target Acquisition System (VTAS) and a Sidewinder Expanded Acquisition Mode (SEAM). A new dogfight mission computer was provided, together with auto-altitude reporting equipment. APX-76 or APX-80 air-to-air IFF equipment was fitted, plus AN/ASW-25 one-way datalink. The J79-GE-8 engines of the F-4B were retained, although smoke abetment equipment was fitted.

The first F-4N flew on June 4, 1972. The first renovated F-4Ns joined the fleet in February of 1973.


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