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McDonnell F-4 Phantom II cockpit layouts, instrument panels and flight instruments


The McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom II was produced to meet the US Navy requirement for a supersonic fighter. It is a supersonic, long-range, all-weather fighter bomber with two J79-GE-8s engines and a crew of two (pilot and radar operator/navigator seated in tandem). The internal fuel capacity was larger than that of any other Navy fighter jet in the 1960s. The primary armament consisted of four Sparrow 3 missiles that are partially submerged in the underside of the fuselage and four sidewinders on wing racks (source: Flight Magazine, July 1960). The wings could be folded for easy airplane storage on a carrier and a drag chute and an arresting hook reduced landing roll distances on land and aircraft carriers. The production version for the Navy and the Marines was designated F-4B in September 1962 and also included a reconnaissance version, the RF-4B.

Different F-4 versions

Different F-4 versions as shown in a mid-1960s McDonnell promotional flyer for French Government officials and press (source: Daniel Lehmann's Ad Astra Antiquariat).

Evolution of the F-4 Phantom

Evolution of the McDonnell F-4 Phantom (source: McDonnell press release presentation, 1976; Daniel Lehmann's Ad Astra Antiquariat).

After extensive testing of the Navy F-4B in 1961, the USAF decided upon the F-4 Phantom to become its main tactical fighter aircraft. This led to the development of the USAF F-4C Phantom, later followed by modified F-4D and F-4E versions. The latter version included an M61 20 mm Vulcan Gattling gun as secondary armament in addition to the missiles. The verious versions all played a significant role in air support during the Vietnam war, often supporting F-105 Thunderchief bombing raids. The McDonnell Aircraft Corporation merged with Douglas Aircraft Company Incorporated on April 28, 1967, to form the McDonnell Douglas Corporation.

Different F-4 versions on cover page promotional brochure

USAF, Navy and Marines F-4 versions as shown in a mid-1960s McDonnell promotional flyer for Government officials and press (source: Daniel Lehmann's Ad Astra Antiquariat).

The F-4E Phantom was also exported to Turkey, Iran and Israel, to Germany for the West-German Luftwaffe (designated F-4F) and used by the British RAF (F-4M Phantom FGR Mk. 2) and the Royal Navy (F-4K Phantom). Later versions for the Navy and Marines were the F-4J, which, after upgrades and other modifications, became the F-4S. Reconaissance versions were the RF-4B for the Navy and RF-4C, RF-4E for the USAF.

For an extensive overview of all F-4 Phantom models, visit Joe Baugher's web site at

Cockpit configurations, instrument panels and contractor scale models

The links below lead to pages where the cockpit layouts of various F-4 versions are displayed, as well as their flight instruments and instrument panels

F-4 Phantom power plant

The F-4 Phantom has two engines weighing about 1800 kg each. The Navy F-4B Phantom had a General Electric J79-GE-8 power plant with a military thrust of 10,900 pounds each. The engine incorporates a variable stator for the first six stages, a 17 stage compressor, 10 annular combustion chambers, a three-stage turbine, a variable area exhaust nozzle and a variable thrust afterburner. Smoke abatement measures were applied to the Navy F-4S engines.

J79-GE-8 power plant of the F-4B, F-4J and RF-4B Phantom aircraft

Navy models F-4B, F-4J and RF-4B aircraft J79-GE-8 power plant (Source: NAVAIR 01-245FDB-2-3.1 Maintenance Instructions Manual).

USAF F-4C and F-4D models had upgraded J79-GE-15 engines (10.900 pounds thrust each), whereas the F-4E incorporated two J79-GE-17 power plants, with 17,900 pounds maximum thrust.

F-4 Phantom images

The gallery below contains some pictures of F-4 Phantom aircrafts. Click on the thumbnails to get a larger versions of these images. Some of these pictures were used for aircraft recognition purposes by the RAF. The colour pictures of the German and Turkish F-4 Phantoms appear courtesy to Mr. Ad Jan Aldevogt (, who has an extensive archive of civil and military aircraft photos, including pictures taken in Eastern Block countries.

F-4M Phantom
F-4M Phantom in flight
USAF F-4 Phantom
British F-4M
F-4 and F-5 aircrafts
USAF F-4E Phantom and F-5 Tiger
German F-4 No. 3859
German F-4F
German F-4F, No. 3789
German F-4F
Turkish F-4E
Turkish F-4E
Turkish F-4E
Turkish F-4E
Turkish F-4, No. 680427
Turkish F-4E

F-4 Phantom mobile nose section for events

Joe from St. Louis or Bethalto, Illinois, has beautifully restored an F-4E Phantom cockpit section. This section has been mounted on a mobile platform and it is possible to have this F-4E Phantom cockpit on display for birthday parties, corporate events, school activities or otherwise. Joe's web site is and you can contact him at

F-4 Phantom Patches

There are many patches that were stitched by F-4 Phantom pilots on their gear. These included patches indicating certain squadron, for when a certain number of mission were completed or for hours flown, but also, for instance, to remember the 40th year of the F-4 Phantoms existence and for other events. Below are examples of a few of these patches

2-hundred missions patch F-4 Phantom Night Owl missions in Vietnam

Original patch marking two hundred Night Owl (Night Interdiction Missions) of an F-4 Phantom pilot over Vietnam (and Laos, Cambodia). Spook is displayed here in an Ace of Spades - representing the bringer of death. Image courtesy of Pierre.

Visit Program to McDonnell Aircraft Co., Swissair vice-president, 1974

The World Headquarters of the McDonnell Aircraft Company was often visited by important potential customers to be informed about McDonnell's products. The program of these visits, and the names of the persons who would be present at these meetings, were published on small black-and-white brochures. An example of such a brochure - for the visit of Mr. Konrad Lindenmanns, who was vice-president of Swissair in 1974 - to McDonnell Aircraft Company's World Headquarters in St. Louis (USA) is shown below.

McDonnell Aircraft Company visit program to Swissair, 1974

McDonnell Aircraft Company visit program to Swissair, 10 September 1974 (Source: Daniel Lehmann's Antiquariat Ad Astra, Switzerland).

At this particular visit McAir was introduced, the F-15 Eagle Program was presented, an F-15 simulator tour was made, the final assembly line and prologue room were visited and and Electronics Vital III presentation was given after a one-hour lunch.

Literature, flight and maintenance manuals

Danny Coremans from DACO Publications released an new book titled Uncovering the US Navy Q/F-4B/J/N/S Phantom in 2009. This book contains hundreds of colour pictures of the inside and outside of the different Navy Phantom II aircraft, showing technical details of fuselage, cockpit, engine, weapons systems, avionics, etc., and also contains scale drawings of the various F-4 Phantom aircraft types and their cockpits that are valuable for scale model projects.

D. Coremans (2009), Uncovering the US Navy Q/F-4B/J/N/S Phantom. DACO Publications, Belgium
Cover page of D. Coremans (2009). Uncovering the US Navy Q/F-4B/J/N/S Phantom. DACO Publications, Belgium.

I can recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Navy Phantoms. Sample pages from the book and ordering information are shown DACO's Navy F-4 Phantom book page. Please do check it out...

Below is a list of original and digital aviation books, flight and technical manual sources that served to provide information shown on different web pages.

F-4C T.O. 1F-4C-34-1-1 manual RF-4C T.O. 1F-4(R)C-1 flight manual Navair 01-245FDD-1 F-4J and F-4S flight manual Navair 01-245fdb-2-3.1 J79-GE-8 power plant manual International F-4E technical description, Report MDC-A2300 Litton LN-12 Inertial Navigation System, 1963 F-4D Inertial Navigation and Weapons Release Computer Systems, 1969 F-4E & G Interoperability loading/off-loading procedures, 1984 F-4E Crew chief's handbook P.S. 861, 1974 F-4C Aircraft TDDR-50 Series Trouble Shooting
      Manuals, 1964. Volume IV. F-4C, F-4D and F-4E aircrew weapons delivery checklist, 1973 F-4 TDDR-50.0 Trouble Shooting manual, Section 0 NAVAIR 01-245FDD-18 NATOPS Pocket Checlist F-4J Aircraft RF-4E TDDR-50RE Trouble Shooting manual

The following texts are available on CD (Adobe PDF files or HTML):

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