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A-13  --  F-4 PHANTOM

THE CLOCK

This is the airplane clock from the Cold War age, the military specifications led to the creation of only one timer clock for the whole Department of Defense, all the US airplanes in this period were equipped with this clock.

All this clocks made under this specifications and requirements, such as having independent chronograph, having a minimum of 15 jewels, at least power for 8 days, or for example, having a variation of 75 seconds in 6 hours at 35 degrees Celsius and many more specifications, are known after the name of A-13.

The producing companies, meeting these requirements, created the clock, it had to be certified by defense.

The main manufacture companies were Waltham in USA, and in Sweden Wakmann (the Breitling brand in USA), Lemania, and Thommen. The machinery of the Swedish clocks is very similar, whereas Waltham´s is only used by her, on the outside meeting with the standards are all the same.

THE AIRPLANE

The F4 PHANTOM was a legend in his days, produced initially for the US NAVY in 1960, already before entering in service, it marked records of height and speed.

When it was tried against the F 106 of the US Air Force, it was so superior that for the first and last time the US Air Force ordered a plane from the NAVY, 582 planes of a new version of aerial superiority was bought by the Air Force.

In total, over 5,000 Phantoms were built, 36 of the model C were used by the Spanish Air Force.

It turned out very controversial that this fighter was built without cannon, something incredible in this period, the NAVY thought that classical aerial dogfight combats were over, that aerial war would be with missiles at a bigger distance than the range of the cannon, the Phantom had 8 SideWinder missiles of short range and 2 Sparrow of long range, they were wrong, the Sparrow ones were not reliable and were limited by engagement rules, finally, in Vietnam was observed that dogfight combats were still being produced, and something worse, if your teammate had a MIG on his tail, you couldn’t use a Sidewinder to shot it down because the missile didn’t know who was the friend and who was the foe, you could shot down your teammate. In 1966 F4s were added a pod with a cannon.

In 1967 the combination of weaponry and the new combat tactics produced the creation of the “Top Gun dog fighting school”, quickly the results of this school were demonstrated in Vietnam, and the F4 was attributed 277 combat victor downs.

THE COCKPIT

The instruments and the controls in the cockpit were well sized and situated.

The hardest part was to operate the weapons management system; you had to have a degree in switchtology.

The best thing about the F4´s cockpit was the repeater radarscope in the front seat because it gave you in a single look the situational awareness of the combat.

The radar was operated by the RIO (Radar Interceptor Officer) seated in the back. This radar, that had a range of more than 100 miles, was one of the biggest advances in the F4. Although it wasn’t used a lot in Vietnam, the ace Cunningham’s shot downs were made very close using the Sidewinder.

 

F-4   PANTHOM   ACES

Randy Cunningham, and his RIO William Driscoll, are with 5 victories the first and only aces of Vietnam war. Both had been part of the first crews to pass by the school of the Top Gun.

The first shoot down, was made with the SideWinder despite having 2 MIGS blocked for the Sparrows, due to the lack of reliability of the Sparrow, Cunningham preferred to get closer and use the Sidewinder. With the second shoot, they made their first shot down. 4 months later, the 8th of May in 1972, the second shoot down was made, and 3 days later it made 3 more, adding a total of 5.

The fifth one is part the mythology of this plane because, in first place, it was thought that the pilot of the Mig 17 was the coronel Tomb, the ace of the Vietnamese Air Force, many years later it was confirmed that it wasn’t been him, and in the second place, because of the way that Cunningham shot down the Mig. In a determined moment of the combat, both planes were going up vertically side by side incapable of getting a shooting position. In this moment, Cunningham completely stopped the motor and pulled out the speed brakes, winning the tail to the Mig and shooting it down afterwards.This scene is shown on the film Top Gun, but instead of using an F-4, they use an F-14 Tomcat, emblematic plane used in the period of the film’s making.

Returning back to the USS Constellation, they were hot by a land missile. The plane couldn’t be controlled correctly because it had both hydraulic systems damaged and all the fire warnings sounding, but to avoid landing on enemy land and being turned into prisoner, it continued flying as it could almost head down, until everything failed and the plane started a flat spin, moment in which they jumped near the coast, and in the water, they were rescued quickly by a helicopter.

From the book FOX TWO by Randy Cunningham

 

 

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