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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Starting today I've inserted a new Avatar in my threads. Don't know if it was needed, but I just felt it was time to do something different.

The patch shown is from the retirement of the RF4C in 1995 from the Nevada Air National Guard which was the unit I retired from at the end of 1993. I enlisted in the Guard in January of 1975 and separated to the Retired Reserve in '93. I had a nine year civilain break after serving in the active duty Air Force.

The NVANG was flying the F101B when I joined, but was transitioning to the Phantom within a few months. Our last six RF4C's were sent to Spain and the rest to the bone yard. They are all gone now, having been used as aerial targets. You can still see one at the Susanville, CA airport and at the Reno, NV ANG base. The Phantom II was a great airplane. I had the privilege of flying in the back seat once and truly believe the pilots should probably be paying the Air Force to allow them to fly jets. It was the most fun I have had with my clothes on!

Our mission was intelligence gathering and the planes were just the tool used in gathering it. My job was imagery interpretation, intelligence analysis, and reporting. I retired as the superintendent. I think it was the most interesting job I have ever had.

Of course, the really good part was all the ammunition they issued me and the M14 I fired it in while shooting with the Nevada NG rifle team.
 

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Excellent Avatar Ted.
Having worked on F4Bs in the Marine Corps and done electronic repairs on a few RF4s when the Air Force was short of techs in Vietnam. Great aircraft. I flew back seat a few times and have to admit I got sick in the mask every time before leaving the ground.
An aircraft that can take off, pull nose up and break the sound barrier at 90 degs gets a lot of respect. That along with a 90K' plus ceiling is something else.
Burning fuel faster than it can be poured out of an open top 5 gal pail is also pretty amazing.

1967 photo of me standing next to one our squadron aircraft in 1967 at Chu Lai RVN.

[URL=https://s1180.photobucket.com/user/nf1e/media/012_zps9d9f1bc1.jpg.html][/URL]
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I am proud to say I did not get sick even though we did aerobatics over Pyramid Lake north of Reno. I even got to take the stick and do a four point roll. Come to think of it, my stomach did get a little out of sorts, but I managed to keep it all in. We flew 500 feet AGL up the Feather River Canyon looking up at the peaks (sometimes much lower). Recce pilots like to fly low and usually well below that. I remember looking at one frame of imagery shot when the plane flew by an M60 tank. I couldn't see the top of the turret which is about 13 feet high.
 

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Phantoms are a sight to behold. They used to be at all the airshows when I was a kid, but have not seen one in years.
 

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The iconic F4 Phantom was one of the best looking fighter jets ever designed I've always thought, and evidently it flew as well as it looked from what I understand.
 

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An aircraft that can take off, pull nose up and break the sound barrier at 90 degs gets a lot of respect. That along with a 90K' plus ceiling is something else.
Burning fuel faster than it can be poured out of an open top 5 gal pail is also pretty amazing.
Don't forget it was the last of the ACE makers, and it was also the only plane that could hang with the Atlas at altitude for the Moon program.
 

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I remember living in Greenbelt MD, you would often hear the unmistakable sound of J-79s in max military power.

You could walk outside, look for the smoke trails and follow them to a pair of F-4s climbing out of Andrews AFB.
 

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That there(s) is pretty darn cool.

I used to play Phantom's Five, on my Apple 2 Plus. About as far as I got. I did wear down a little hole in my thumb, though.
 

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Small world Ted. I was trained on the camera systems for the RF4C in tech school than instead of TAC I was stationed at Offutt and SAC. The systems I had to work on were all OJT, but eventually I was transferred to TAC and Bergstrom AFB TX. So I did spend most of a year working on what I was formally trained on. During that time I spent a few months working out of the 91st Reconnaissance Squadron doing technical evaluations for possible electro-mechanical camera issues with target photographs. So I found myself working along side the photo interpreters there.
 
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Discussion Starter #12
Bergstrom was a hoot. I attended a training school there on Warsaw Pact equipment identification. I enjoyed Austin too. I had some of the Bergstrom interpreters working for me during Desert Storm.

The RF4C used KA-56 Panoramic cameras, KS-87 vertical and forward, KA-91 high panoramic, and AAD-5 Infrared sensors. Most training missions were flown at 500 and 1000 ft. AGL, but most sorties during Desert Storm were flown at about 28,000 ft. Less chance of getting shot down. We often reported on targets up to 25 miles out shot at that altitude.
 

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I got there towards the end of 76 and left in the summer of 77, not long.
Those were the days of Armadillo World Headquarters and Willie's 4th of July picnics. They had just begun running Austin City Limits. Austin is a different place these days.
I understand that the KS-87 and KA-91 along with the side looking radar are today being used by our Open Skies Treaty aircraft.
Besides the KA-56 there also was a KA-55. Also a couple of high altitude fixed lens cameras with 13x13 inch format negatives. One model went back to late WW2. I think both of those were used in the Voodoo too. Some of those may not have made it to your time.
I'll always have a soft spot for the Phantom.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
As the Nevada Air Guard was getting ready to retire the RF4C one was taken at random from the flight line and set several speed records on a closed course over the Black Rock Desert. The RF was the fastest of the Phantoms. It also had better low level performance than the F15 and F16.
One of our mottos was "in thrust we trust".

The attached photo illustrates the less than desirable way to exit an aircraft. Sorry about the sideways photo. This was one of three RF4's that were lost during my time in the ANG. The other was a similar situation just after hostilities ended in Desert Storm and one was crashed while landing at the Reno airport after a total hydraulic failure. In all cases the crews ejected safely. Note the small flames at the rear of the aircraft. The cause was a failed fuel pump that sprayed excess fuel into the right engine. It was later determined that if the fuel was shut off, the fire would have gone out and the aircraft could have been saved. I wouldn't want to ride it out either. The picture was taken by another RF4. Lucky shot! I was the official photographer at the crash site. It made a nice big smoking hole and parts were scattered all around. One of my pictures was of the clock which was laying in the dirt, stopped at the exact time of the crash. Unfortunately I didn't get to keep any of the photos.
 

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I can see why with that skinny little snozz.
 

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Ted the accident you described sounds eerily similar to an RF4C crash that I was tasked along with others from my shop to go thru the wreckage that was moved to a hanger on base to ID any parts that we could. Everyone from the maintenance squadrons were represented in that inspection. There was precious little of anything that could be considered part of an aircraft the size of an F4 including slag.
What we understood was that the aircraft was on a training mission when one of the engines suddenly went into full afterburner. Fortunately both crew members egressed successfully and the F4 came to earth in a different State than the crew landed in. Fortunately in an unpopulated desert. We were told that what was left of the nose was almost 30 feet below the bottom of the crater it made.
What we could identify as likely being any parts of our camera systems would fit into a 55 gallon drum with lots of room left over.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
The one shown bought the farm when a bolt sheered in the fuel pump. I don't know what happened to the one we lost in the Persian Gulf. It caught on fire on take off and the crew bailed. The plane went down in the water. The hydraulic failure in Reno didn't seem so bad and the crew opted to try and land the plane. They lost control once on the ground and it ran off the runway. It probably would have been alright, but they hit a little rise in the grass and the plane went airborne at which time they decided to punch out. The plane came back down on it's wheels, but the nose gear collapsed and the nose augured in. They even thought about repairing it, but it never flew again.

During Desert Shield an F4 Wild Weasel ran out of fuel when they missed the check point. The crew bailed and the plane went on to land itself in the desert. They actually went out and picked it up with a flat bed truck, but it was damaged beyond repair. We were co-located with the Wild Weasel bunch as part of the 35th TAC Fighter Wing in the Gulf War. The other unit on the base was about 3/4 of the Marine Corps F18 fleet and a bunch or EA6's. At least we had beer!
 

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F4’s are one of my favorite planes, and I’ve always loved strike and reconnaissance aircraft. Even though I know it wasn’t RF4’s, I love the low level photos taken during the Cuban Missle crisis, where you can see all the weapons emplacements and Cuban troops ( and probably Russian as well) scrambling out in the open as the jet snaps it photos. Those low level runs must have been hairy.

Going to date myself here but I remember the Blue Angels flying F4’s at my first air show. Was also lucky enough to see an F4G at Paine Field in Washington in 1993. The plane and crew had flown SEAD missions in the 91 Gulf War and the planes fuselage even bore some SAM kill flags in the form of radar dish symbols. It was awesome.

It must have been quite the experience working with those jets Ted.
 
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