Book Review
The F-4 Phantom
The F-4 Phantom
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by: Adie Roberts [ IN_WAR_AND_PEACE ]

Brief history

The XF4H-1 was designed to carry four semi-recessed AAM-N-6 Sparrow III radar-guided missiles and to be powered by two J79-GE-8 engines. As in the McDonnell F-101 Voodoo, the engines sat low in the fuselage to maximize internal fuel capacity and ingested air through fixed geometry intakes. The thin-section wing had a leading-edge sweep of 45 and was equipped with blown flaps for better low-speed handling
On 25 July 1955, the Navy ordered two XF4H-1 test aircraft and five YF4H-1 pre-production examples. The Phantom made its maiden flight on 27 May 1958 with Robert C. Little at the controls. A hydraulic problem precluded retraction of the landing gear, but subsequent flights went more smoothly. Early testing resulted in the redesign of the air intakes, including the distinctive addition of 12,500 holes to "bleed off" the slow-moving boundary layer air from the surface of each intake ramp. Series production aircraft also featured splitter plates to divert the boundary layer away from the engine intakes. The aircraft soon squared off against the XF8U-3 Crusader III. Due to operator workload, the Navy wanted a two-seat aircraft and on 17 December 1958, the F4H was declared a winner. Delays with the J79-GE-8 engines meant that the first production aircraft were fitted with J79-GE-2 and −2A engines, each having 16,100 lbf (71.8 kN) of afterburning thrust. In 1959, the Phantom began carrier suitability trials with the first complete launch-recovery cycle performed on 15 February 1960 from Independence.
There were proposals to name the F4H "Satan" and "Mithras". In the end, the aircraft was given the less controversial name "Phantom II", the first "Phantom" being another McDonnell jet fighter, the FH-1 Phantom. The Phantom II was briefly given the designation F-110A and the name "Spectre" by the USAF, but neither name was officially used.

The book follows the other Images of War books from Pen & Sword with a softback book, glued spine, pagination of 117.
Author Martin Bowman's interest in World War II and contemporary British and US aviation was fired by the proliferation of US and RAF air bases in his native East Anglia. His quest has taken him to 18 countries, including the USA, Africa, Australia and Russia. He has flown into the world's war zones of Mogadishu, Somalia and Bosnia, and has participated in German and USAFE missions aboard C-160 and C-130 Hercules aircraft. He is the author of sixty aviation books about US Air Force/US Navy and Royal Navy/RAF operations, as well as photographic books on military subjects and commercial airliners. For many years he has been a frequent contributor of photographic and written articles to Flight International, Rolls-Royce Magazine and Aeroplane Monthly in Britain, and to Air Combat, Air Classics and Air Progress in the United States. He continues to explore all matters related to aviation and has suffered, for his art -- on one occasion, notably, he was catapulted from the USS John F Kennedy in the Mediterranean. Recently, he was appointed as an official researcher for DERA. He lives in Norwich, Norfolk.
Book Content
Chapter One
US Navy and USMC
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
On Her Majesty's Service
Chapter Four
International Operators

This offering from Pen & Sword Images of War The F-4 Phantom is a book dedicated to one of the most successful and well-known aircraft of all time affectionately called Spooky. The book covers some of the history, who used the Phantom from the US Navy, US Marine Corps and the US Air force. Its picture-heavy content tells the story of this fantastic aircraft in wartime with a large section on the Vietnam War and further on, it also covers the other countries that used the Phantom like United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Greece, Germany, Iran, South Korea, Egypt and Israel to name but a few.
Capable of Mach 2.2 the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom resulted from a requirement for a two-seat twin-engine shipboard fighter originally ordered in 1954. XF-4H1 made its maiden flight on 27th of May 1958 and delivery to the US Navy began in in February 1960 for carrier trials. Fleet deliveries of the 'Great Smoking Thunderhog' began receiving F-4 Phantoms on the 8th July 1961 when VF-74's 'Bedevilers' at NAS Oceana Virginia F-4B's.
All in all, the Phantom set sixteen world time-to-height, speed and endurance records. Except for project 'Skyburner' all records were achieved in modified production aircraft. Five of the speed records remained unbeaten until the F-15 Eagle appeared in 1975.
The Phantom went on to be a very capable aircraft in multiple roles which you will see throughout the book like an F-4B of VF-96 'Fighting Falcons' intercepting a Tu-16 in 1963.
On the 29th July 1967, one of the greatest tragedies of the war in South East Asia occurred as a result of a simple electrical malfunction. The Atlantic Fleet carrier Forrestal. On the morning of the 29th, as a launch was underway, a stray voltage ignited a Zuni rocket pod suspended under F-4B 153061. One of the rockets fired and zoomed across the deck to hit a Skyhawks fuel tank, causing a chain reaction of explosions and fire on the flight deck. The aircraft on the deck was soon well ablaze the fire fed by over 40,000 gallons of aviation fuel together with bombs and other ordnance. Bombs detonated blowing holes in the armoured deck through which fell burning fuel and ordnance that set the fire to six lower decks. After the inferno was eventually brought under control the next day, a total of 134 men were dead, sixty-two more injured twenty-one aircraft destroyed with another thirty-four damaged.
The book continues in the same way throughout with plenty of pictures, all of which all contain captions explaining what is happening/happened to give really good information, This only lead me to delve for further information because I wanted to find out what had happened after the event and not because the caption did not explain enough.
There are some fantastic photos in this book covering so many different scenarios and different phantoms as well as other planes like the Tu-16, Tu-22 Blinder, plus an assortment of other aircraft.
The section on the phantom f-4K, F-4M, FGR.2 is very interesting albeit not as long as I would have liked, but just like the chapters before it fantastic photos with fantastic pictures with enough captions to understand what is happening.


If you are like me and you are a Phantom freak, this is a must-buy book both Pen & Sword and Author Martin W Bower have produced a great book that will appeal to anyone with an interest in military aviation and history. I enjoyed this book and I hope that Pen & Sword may look to do a flight craft of this particular plane more aimed at the modellers. That said this is still a great read and some stunning pictures of what is a very popular plane and appreciated by its pilots and crew.
Fascinating subject and a plane personal to my family with two family members having flown them in two separate countries I was lucky to grow up listening to the various flying stories
Highs: Iconic plane with a huge following and this book is written in a way that it is easy to pick up and keep reading.
Lows: Just not enough of it
Verdict: A book that anyone can pick up and find fascinating facts about this iconic plane would I recommended it to you, yes I would.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 1526705761
  Suggested Retail: 14.99
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Aug 25, 2020
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Pen & Sword Books!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Adie Roberts (In_War_and_Peace)

I am disabled after a terrorist bomb I have in the past made models for TV and film and work with local museums making new models for display. I also take on commission builds for people

Copyright 2021 text by Adie Roberts [ IN_WAR_AND_PEACE ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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