McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II

A picture of the McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II

The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II was designed as a missile-armed fleet defense fighter for the United States Navy.  In 1962, the U.S. Air Force selected the F-4 for its own use as both a fighter and a fighter-bomber.  Originally designated F-110 by the Air Force the plane became the F-4C under the unified designation scheme ordered by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.  The F-4E is a greatly improved version of the Phantom with numerous improvements to the engines and electronic systems.  The most recognizable change is the addition of an internally mounted gun for air-to-air combat mounted under the nose of the aircraft.  This addressed the greatest combat weakness of the Phantom.  The F-4E is the most produced version of the Phantom with a total of 1,387 built for the U.S. Air Force and foreign customers.

Service History

Built by McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis, MO and delivered to the Air Force on December 16th 1967.

December 1967           To 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing, Eglin AFB, Florida.

February 1969             Returned to McDonnell Douglas factory for modifications for use by U.S. Air Force “Thunderbirds” demonstration team.

May 1969                    To 4525th Fighter Weapons Wing, Nellis AFB, Nevada.  Accepted by Thunderbirds on May 3, 1969.


38 ft 5 in.


63 ft


16 ft 6 in.


55,957 lb (loaded)

Maximum Speed

1,485 MPH

Service Ceiling

62,250 ft


1,885 miles


Two General Electric J79-GE-17 turbojets with 17,900 pounds of thrust each



McDonnell Douglas

United States Air Force Flight Demonstration Squadron “Thunderbirds,” Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, 1973


Serial Number

December 1974           To 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, George AFB, California.

December 1976           To 37th Tactical Fighter Training Wing, Luke AFB, Arizona.

February 1977             To 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, George AFB, California.

October 1978              To Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB, California.

January 1986               Converted to NF-4E for use as a chase plane for cruise missile development.

September 1989          To 6510th Test Wing, 6512th Test Squadron, Edwards AFB, California.

March 1992                 To Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona for storage.

April 1994                   Loaned to Pima Air & Space Museum by the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Pima Air & Space Museum

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