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A69 McDonnell-Douglas F-4E Phantom

The McDonnell-Douglas 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.

In Australia, problems with the General Dynamics F-111C aircraft ordered by the RAAF in 1963 delayed their delivery, and ageing of the Canberra bombers in service necessitated a stop-gap measure to fill the void. As a result, the United States Government offered to lease the RAAF 24 brand-new F-4E Phantom aircraft from the US Air Force 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 on 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 aircrew and groundcrew for the aircraft's flying characteristics and ease of servicing respectively. 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 have needed to be purchased to support the aircraft.

During their Australian service only one Phantom was lost in an accident and the remaining 23 were returned to the US Air Force in 1973.

TECHNICAL DATA: McDonnell-Douglas F-4E Phantom


Two-seat ground attack and air superiority fighter.


Two 8120 kg (17 900 lb) thrust General Electric J79-GE-17A afterburning turbojet engines.


Empty 13,757 kg (30,328 lb); Loaded 28,030 kg (61,795 lb).


Wing span 11.71 m (38 ft 5 in); Length 19.20 m (63 ft); Height 5.02 m (16 ft 5.5 in).


Maximum speed 2390 km/h (1290 kt); cruise speed 919km/h (496 kt); max rate of climb 18,715m (61,400ft)/min; Service ceiling 62,250ft (18,975 m); Range 3184 km (1718 nm) with drop tanks; Combat radius 1145 km (618 nm) on interdiction mission.


One General Electric M61 20 mm six-barrel cannon; Up to 7257 kg (16 000 lb) of stores including bombs, missiles and rockets.

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