Phantom FG.1 (1968-1989) (RN & RAF)

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SKB
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Phantom FG.1 (1968-1989) (RN & RAF)

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Image
^ Phantom FG.1 of 892 Squadron on HMS Ark Royal (R09), 1972.

Introduction
In 1964, a total of 140 new build Phantoms were ordered for the Fleet Air Arm to serve as the Royal Navy's primary fleet air defence aircraft, combined with a secondary strike capability. These were procured to replace the de Havilland Sea Vixen then in service in the role, with the intention that they operate from the decks of four brand new or modernised aircraft carriers. At the time, the Royal Navy's carrier force consisted primarily of five fleet or light fleet carriers of differing sizes and ages:

HMS Victorious - commissioned 1941; rebuilt 1950-1957
HMS Eagle - commissioned 1951
HMS Centaur - commissioned 1953
HMS Ark Royal - commissioned 1955
HMS Hermes - commissioned 1959

Of these, only Eagle and Ark Royal were big enough to accommodate the Phantom, and so plans were put in place to rebuild the two ships to enable the operation of the aircraft. At the same time, plans were in place to construct two new aircraft carriers to a new design, termed as "CVA-01"; the requirements for the intended force of four carriers meant that up to five squadrons of Phantoms were planned to be purchased. However, in its 1966 Defence White Paper the Government decided to cancel CVA-01 (as well as cancelling TSR-2), which led to a reduction in the total procurement order for the Royal Navy's Phantoms, from 140 down to 48. The intention was to form a pair of operational squadrons, each of twelve aircraft, that would operate from the two remaining, heavily modernised fleet carriers.

The Royal Navy received its first F-4K Phantoms, which received the British designation FG.1, in April 1968. These were assigned to 700P Naval Air Squadron, which was to serve as Intensive Flying Trials Unit. Upon completion of the successful flight trials, 767 Naval Air Squadron was commissioned in January 1969 as the FAA's training squadron. This was followed at the end of March 1969 by 892 Naval Air Squadron, which commissioned as the Royal Navy's first operational Phantom unit, intended to embark in Ark Royal once her three-year refit had completed in 1970.

At the same time as the Fleet Air Arm was receiving its first aircraft, the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment had three FG.1s delivered to its 'C' Squadron for flight deck trials aboard Eagle. Two sets of trials were successfully carried out in March and June 1969; the first set was a set of approaches and touch and go landings, while the second set of trials involved full up catapult launch and arrested recovery. As a result of the reheat from the Spey turbofans, the ship's jet blast deflectors (JBD) were not used; instead a steel plate was fixed to the deck to absorb the heat of the engines building to launch, with fire hoses needed after each launch to prevent them melting.

Ark Royal had entered refit to accommodate the Phantom in 1967; this involved amongst other elements the installation of water-cooled JBDs and bridle catchers. Once this was complete, Eagle was then scheduled to undergo a similar modernization. However, in 1969, the planned refit of Eagle was cancelled. As a consequence, it was then decided to further reduce the FAA's Phantom fleet to just 28 aircraft. The remaining 20 aircraft were then allocated to the Royal Air Force.

In 1970, Ark Royal embarked 892 NAS as part of her air group for the first time. However, the first operational use of the Royal Navy's Phantoms had come in 1969, when 892 NAS had embarked for training with the US aircraft carrier USS Saratoga in the Mediterranean, and had undertaken air defence missions alongside the ship's own F-4Js. During Ark Royal's first three-year commission, 892 NAS, which had initially had RNAS Yeovilton as its home base, moved to RAF Leuchars where, during the periods when it was not embarked, undertook Quick Reaction Alert duties alongside 43 Squadron. The Phantom served in the Fleet Air Arm until 1978, when Ark Royal was finally withdrawn from service, leaving no ship left in the Royal Navy capable of operating the type. The final catapult launch from Ark Royal was a Phantom of 892 NAS on 27 November 1978 during the disembarkation of the air group following the ship's final deployment; the squadron's aircraft were delivered to RAF St Athan in Wales where they were then handed over to the RAF.


Image
^ RAF Phantom of 74 Squadron, in 1984.

Royal Air Force
Following the cancellation of the planned refit of HMS Eagle to allow her to operate the Phantom, a total of 20 airframes that had originally been ordered for the Fleet Air Arm were diverted to the Royal Air Force to serve in the air defence role. At the time, the RAF's primary interceptor was the English Electric Lightning, which suffered badly both in terms of range, loiter time and weapons fit, all of which hampered its effectiveness, especially in long interceptions of Soviet Air Forces and Soviet Naval Aviation bombers and reconnaissance aircraft over the North Sea and North Atlantic. So, it was decided to form a new Phantom squadron at RAF Leuchars, the UK's most northerly air defence base, to take advantage of the improvements that the Phantom provided over the Lightning - it could carry more fuel, and could thus fly further for longer; it was fitted with a more powerful radar; and it could carry more missiles (up to 8, compared to 2 for the Lightning). On 1 September 1969, 43 Squadron was formed at Leuchars, operating as part of the UK's northern QRA zone alongside the Lightnings of 11 Squadron and, from 1972, more Phantoms from 892 Naval Air Squadron.

Following the withdrawal of HMS Ark Royal in 1978, the Phantoms of the Fleet Air Arm were turned over to the RAF and used to form a second squadron at Leuchars. At the time, 111 Squadron was stationed there operating the FGR.2 version of the Phantom, having been there since 1975. In 1979, the squadron converted to the ex-Navy aircraft, dispersing its existing airframes to other Phantom units. Both 43 and 111 Squadrons retained the FG.1 until 1989 and the subsequent entry into service of the new Tornado F.3.

Name: F-4K Phantom FG.1
Powerplant: 2 x Rolls Royce Spey 203 low-bypass turbofan
Speed: 1,386 miles per hour (2,231 km/h) at 40,000 ft
Service Ceiling: 57,200 feet (17,400 m)
Range: 1,750 miles (2,820 km)
Weight: 31,000 pounds (14,000 kg) empty, 58,000 pounds (26,000 kg) maximum
Wingspan: 38 feet 5 inches (11.71 m)
Length: 57 feet 7 inches (17.55 m)
Height: 16 feet 1 inch (4.90 m)
Number Built: 52

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SKB
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Re: Phantom FG.1 (1968-1989) (RN & RAF)

Post by SKB »

Ark Royal carrier operations

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SKB
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Re: Phantom FG.1 (1968-1989) (RN & RAF)

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The engines of the British version of the Phantom FG.1, (the Rolls Royce Speys) were also used in the Thrust SSC supersonic car, which still holds the World Land Speed Record set on 15 October 1997. It achieved an average speed of 1,228 km/h (763 mph) and became the first car to officially break the sound barrier.



Thrust SSC's driver, Andy Green is expected to drive the British built 'Bloodhound SSC', a new supersonic car which is hoped to surpass 1000 mph.

marktigger
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Re: Phantom FG.1 (1968-1978) (RN FAA)

Post by marktigger »

if they had bought the whole planned buy they could have goten rid of the lightning earlier

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SKB
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Re: Phantom FG.1 (1968-1989) (RN & RAF)

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Pathé news film of Phantoms in service

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