McDonnell Douglas F-4K Phantom II – XT864, 892 NAS, HMS Ark Royal 1977. “Fly Navy”
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Gemini Aces 1/72 scale GARNS4003: McDonnell Douglas F-4K Phantom II XT864 of 892 NAS, HMS Ark Royal, 1977. Bears the inscription “Fly Navy” on the rear fuselage. Limited Edition of 2496 Pieces
Length 10.5 inches Wingspan 6.25 inches
The McDonnell Douglas Phantom is one of the most versatile and effective combat jets ever to enter service and it enjoyed the longest production run of any supersonic fighter built in the USA. Some 50 years after its first flight, the Phantom still flies in front line squadrons of a number of nations’ air arms. The Royal Navy were looking for a fixed-wing replacement for their De Havilland Sea Vixen aircraft and a number of aircraft in development were being considered. After endless stalling and the cancelation of the P.1154 (Royal Navy) RN Programme (a supersonic variant of the Harrier), the navy decided to go with an aircraft that was already successfully in service – the American Mc Donnell Douglas Phantom. The British did insist on a number of specific alterations! Based on the F-4J, the UK versions were designated F-4K (Royal Navy) and F-4M (RAF). Perhaps the major difference with the British machines was the use of the Rolls Royce Spey engines. These units yielded greater power and efficiency than the US General Electric J79s, without the signature of smoke trails. This did, however, come at a price – the UK Phantoms required extensive re-design work to the entire rear section of the fuselage and the engines needed larger intakes, amongst a host of design challenges to allow this mighty aircraft to be used from Britains dimunative aircraft carriers. In the end, of the 140 Phantoms originally intended for the Royal Navy, only 48 were ordered and 20 of these were diverted to the RAF. The McDonnell Douglas F-4K Phantoms of the Royal Navy have got to be some of the most attractive jets ever to enter service. Operating from the relatively small British aircraft carriers, Fleet Air Arm Phantoms had a lower jet-pipe, increased flap area and an extendable nose-wheel oleo, which allowed for a much greater angle of attack on take-off. A Fleet Air Arm Phantom under steam and ready for launch resembled a giant preying mantis. 892 Squadron was the only full combat unit of the Fleet Air Arm to operate the mighty Phantom. When their carrier HMS Ark Royal was decommissioned the 892 Squadron Phantoms were handed over to the RAF at Leuchars for use by 43 and 111 Squadrons.
Designed as a fleet defense fighter for the US Navy, the F-4 Phantom was first flown on May 27, 1958. This twin-engine, long-range all-weather fighter/bomber proved highly adaptable and served in the Marine Corps and the US Air Force as well as in the Navy. During the Vietnam War, it was the principal air superiority fighter for the Navy and the Air Force and was also used for reconnaissance and ground attack. The Phantom continued to serve well into the 1970s and 1980s and even flew missions during the first Gulf War. Finally phased out by the F-14, F-16 and F/A-18, the Phantom was retired in 1996.