Photos

Dad & F-4copyrighted

A recent photo of the author with a Heritage Flight F-4E Phantom II at Tyndall AFB, FL. Heritage Flight is formed and funded by Air Combat Command of the U.S. Air Force. They fly at special events and for training QF-4 drone pilots. “QF-4” is used once the aircraft has been modified for use as a target drone.

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The F-4E model was the best for painting a shark’s mouth on because of the 20 MM Gatling gun protruding under the radome in the nose. It was the only USAF model of the Phantom to have a built-in gun.

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The pilot (front) and Weapon System Officer’s (back) canopies can be seen in the open position in the upper left of the photo. The powerful radar (for its day) was housed in the black radome in the nose. It was capable of painting targets out to about 50 miles and locking-on to targets out to about 35 miles.

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The 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron of the Air Force is based at Tyndall AFB, Panama City, FL and at Holloman AFB, NM. They have many various responsibilities. This Phantom is a “Heritage Flight” bird as described above, and all are modified with telemetry to be capable of serving as aerial targets for our fighter aircraft. The purpose is to expend real missiles to test their skills as aviators and evaluate performance of their weapon systems.

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This is another Heritage Flight aircraft with canopies down as they would be in flight. The “bomb” slung under the Phantom is really an external fuel tank that can be jettisoned when empty and engaging the enemy, such as when Pepper engaged Yellow Star in FIREHAMMER.

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F-15E performing an afterburner take-off on the left and an QF-4 drone aircraft on the right taking off on another runway. The QF-4 is manned for these test/proficiency flights and unmanned when used as a target.

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F-15E performing an afterburner take-off on the left and an QF-4 drone aircraft on the right taking off on another runway. The QF-4 is manned for these test/proficiency flights and unmanned when used as a target.

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A close-up shot of the F-4 drone aircraft that is to be used as a target since its tails are painted orange for visibility when airborne.

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A KC-10 air-refueling tanker aircraft taking off at Tyndall AFB. FL. The F-15E aircraft in photos above, were re-deploying to their home base after firing missiles at QF-4 aircraft and used this tanker to allow them to go non-stop.

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A QF-4 Phantom on landing as noted by tire smoke. The pilot would deploy the drag chute shortly after touching down in order to slow the aircraft and reduce wear and tear on wheel brakes.

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The author in Air Force issue leather flight jacket with a Heritage Flight Phantom II at Tyndall AFB, FL, February 2013. Author’s first of three Top Gun awards came in the F-4 while in training at Homestead AFB, FL, in route to Southeast Asia for the culmination of the Vietnam War as described in FIREHAMMER.

There is very little wasted space in fighter aircraft and that can be seen in the tail as well. Above the tail hook shown here is a dump mast for getting rid of fuel in an emergency situation and below that sits the drag chute door. Then we get to the tail hook used to catch the cable on runways, much like a carrier landing. The two powerful exhaust nozzles of the J-79 afterburning engines open and close to increase thrust, much like when you put your thumb over a water hose opening  to increase pressure and shoot the water farther.

There is very little wasted space in fighter aircraft and that can be seen in the tail as well. Above the tail hook shown here is a dump mast for getting rid of fuel in an emergency situation and below that sits the drag chute door. Then we get to the tail hook used to catch the cable on runways, much like a carrier landing. The two powerful exhaust nozzles of the J-79 afterburning engines open and close to increase thrust, much like when you put your thumb over a water hose opening to increase pressure and shoot the water farther.

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