MotoArt's newest addition to the PlaneTags fleet is the McDonnell F-4B Phantom II, the versatile and adaptable fighter that remained in the frontlines for more than half a century. Learn more about the Phantom II and how we found BuNo 148369.
The F-4 Phantom is a twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor and fighter-bomber. It was highly adaptable and used extensively in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War as the principal air superiority fighter for the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Marines. It had a top speed of over Mach 2.2 and set several world records for its performance and speed. It was the backbone of American military air power throughout the 1980’s, eventually being replaced by newer aircraft and phased out by 1996. Between 1958 and 1981, 5,195 F-4s were built, setting a long standing record for the largest production run of a U.S. built supersonic fighter. The F-4 has been flown by the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds demonstration teams. It has also seen service in eleven other countries including Australia, United Kingdom, Egypt, Israel, Japan, and South Korea. Although most of these countries have retired their F-4s, even today after more than 60 years since its introduction, the F-4 is still in service in some countries.
The McDonnell FH Phantom is a twinjet fighter plane that was built for the U.S. Navy and flown for the first time during World War II. The Phantom was the first jet deployed by the US Marine Corps and the first aircraft propelled solely by jets to touch down aboard an American aircraft carrier.
The F-4 Phantom was built in response to the U.S. Navy’s need for a superior attack fighter. McDonnell Aircraft began development by redesigning the Navy’s carrier based fighter F-3H Demon with improved performance and capabilities. McDonnell proposed a supersonic “Super Demon” to the Navy in 1953. While the Navy felt their supersonic fighter, the Vought F-8 Crusader, met their requirements but requested a full scale mockup. McDonnell built the F-4 as an all-weather fighter-bomber. They also added a second crewman for the AN/APQ-50 radar and the F-4 became an all-weather interceptor for the Navy. The Phantom made its first flight in 1958 and went into service in December 1960. The USAF would develop their own variant, the F-4H, as a fighter/bomber. The Air Force variants were the F-4C and F-4H. The Navy’s Phantoms were designated the F-4B.
The F-4 Phantom II broke many records over its service lifetime. Between 1959 and 1962, the Phantom II set 16 world records, five of them not broken until years later with the F-15 Eagle. Here are just a few early records:
BuNo 148369, built as a block 6 F4H-1 Phantom, was delivered to the U.S. Marines in May 1961. Redesignated as an F-4B, ‘8369 would be assigned to numerous squadrons during its career including the VMFAT-101, VX-4, and H&MS-13 where it was deployed to Chu Lai Air Base, Vietnam. ‘8369 was struck off charge in 1974 after 1,644 total hours. It was later assigned to NATTC Memphis, TN as a ground trainer, and was said to have served with the USN Fire School. While the tail section was at one time preserved at the Flying Tigers Museum in Kissimmee Florida, the rest ended up in a private aircraft collection in St. Louis, MO.
Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 (VMFAT-101) was commissioned at Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro, CA. Jan. 3, 1969, as part of Marine Combat Crew Readiness Training Group 10, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. VMFAT 101 trained naval aviators and flight officers in the use of the F-4 Phantom II, and later the F-18 Hornet. They won several safety awards, as well as the coveted Marine Corps Aviation Association Robert M. Hanson Award as Marine aviation’s finest fighter squadron. The Sharpshooters trained their last F-4 replacement crew in May 1987, and by July the squadron delivered its remaining Phantoms to be stored at Davis-Monthan AFB. The squadron amassed over 125,000 flight hours over the 18 years spent training Marine and Navy crews.
VX-4 Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Four, later redesignated in January 1969 as Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 4, was originally charged with the development of airborne early warning systems during the early 1950s. Over the years, they were commissioned to conduct evaluations of air-launched guided missiles, Doppler navigation systems, operational test and terrain clearance radar, and air-to-air distance measuring equipment. In the early 1960’s they began working with the F-4 Phantom to perform operational tests and evaluate airborne fighter weapons, including AIM-7M Sparrow, AIM-9M Sidewinder, and AIM-54C Phoenix missiles, radar warning devices, and self-protection jammers. After almost 30 years of service in the squadron, the F-4 Phantom project was over, with the venerable fighters replaced with the F-14D Super Tomcat.
MAG-13 became a unit of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan in June 1965 before being deployed to Chu Lai Air Base in South Vietnam in September 1966. MAG-13 provided support for the III Marine Amphibious Force. The group included VMFA-314, VMFA-323 and VMFA-542 all operating F-4B Phantoms. In December 1965, VMFA-542 was replaced with VMFA-115 while VMFA-232 and VMFA-334 arrived in early 1969 with the new F-4J's. The F-4s returned from South Vietnam in 1971 and went to MCAS El Toro. Thank you to Rob Schneider for research and these records for BuNo 148369 .
Photo by Laurie Skrivan, St. Louis Post Dispatch
Dan Bissell is a private aircraft collector in St. Louis, MO. He owns dozens of aircraft, which he began collecting in the early 1990s and storing them at his business at Bissell Auto & Body truck repair shop. His collection of military planes were mostly purchased through government auctions, where he bid against recyclers who were bent on scrapping them. He dreams of opening a museum someday to satisfy the curiosity of people who stop by asking to see his collection. His grandfather and father were pilots who flew during WWI and WWII. Bissell grew up with a love and fascination for airplanes, learning about them and building models and remote control airplanes. As an adult, he began collecting military aircraft engines, which led to trips to the Davis-Monthan AFB military aircraft boneyard outside Tucson, AZ. His first major aircraft purchase was a F-105 Thunderchief, which led to the B-52, F-86, T-33, MiGs, and an F-4 among others. The F-4, BuNo 148369 interested MotoArt owner Dave Hall. “The F-4 Phantom II is one of the most requested aircraft for PlaneTags,” says Hall. “We were elated to find this in Dan Bissell’s collection and glad to partner with him to create F-4 PlaneTags.”
Take a look at these photos of BuNo 148369 from Dave Hall’s collection. These were taken in 2022 as the team took the material off on site.
The McDonnell F-4B Phantom II PlaneTags will be released on Thursday, September 15, 2022 at 12pm PDT on planetags.com and on the PlaneTags app. Sign up to be notified automatically when new PlaneTags are released.
The F-4 Phantom joins the fighter PlaneTags collection. Read more about some of the incredible fighters that MotoArt has had the honor and opportunity to create PlaneTags from.