McDonnell-Douglas F-4E Phantom 67-0237
The F-4 Phantom was one of the West's most widely used aircraft types since World War II. Over 5000 Phantoms were produced, serving with more than 30 nations. Problems with the General Dynamics F-111C aircraft ordered by the RAAF in 1963 delayed their delivery, and aging of the Canberra bombers in service necessitated a stopgap measure to fill the void. As a result, the United States Government offered to lease to the RAAF 24 brand new F-4E Phantom aircraft from the USAF at heavily discounted rates pending the delivery of the F-111C. The Australian Government reluctantly accepted the offer and the project was named 'Peace Reef'. The official contract was signed 22 June 1970 with the aircraft being delivered to Australia in September and October of that year.
Phantoms were based at RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland with Nos 1 and 6 Squadrons and were popular with both aircrew and groundcrew for the aircraft's flying characteristics and ease of servicing. Australia even considered cancelling its order for the F-111Cs and purchasing Phantoms, but this proved to be too expensive, as a fleet of KC-135 tankers would need to be purchased to support the aircraft. During their Australian service only one Phantom was lost in an accident and the remaining twenty-three were returned to the USAF in 1973.
In addition to the Phantoms operated by the RAAF, a number of RAAF pilots also flew the Phantom while on exchange duty with the USAF during the Vietnam War.
Accepted by the US Air Force on 29 May 1968, F-4E 67-0237 served with the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing until November 1976, and subsequently with the 21st Combat Wing until October 1978.
In March 1989, 67-0237 was flown to Oakland, California for shipment to Australia aboard HMAS Tobruk. Upon arrival in Australia, the aircraft was transported by road from the Brisbane docks to RAAF Base Amberley for repaint and preparation for display by No 3 Aircraft Depot. Upon completion of this work, the aircraft was again loaded aboard HMAS Tobruk for shipment to Geelong. On 5 November 1989, the aircraft was moved to Point Cook by road, and the aircraft was formally presented to the RAAF by the USAF Museum on 11 February 1990. The aircraft is painted as 69-7208, one of the RAAF's 24 Phantoms operated by Nos 1 and 6 Squadrons. 69-7208 was converted to F-4G configuration upon its return to the US, and was serving with the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines until retirement in the early 1990s.