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'Nite Owl' Spey Phantoms

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McDonnell Douglas Phantom F-4M - 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Ubon, Thailand, 1980


During late 1966 with the USA getting more and more embroiled in the Vietnam war it was decided to re-equip several USAFE units with the licence-built British Rolls-Royce Spey powered F-4M so as to release older tactical aircraft such as the F-100D and F-105D for Vietnam where attrition was now a very serious issue. 


McDonnell Douglas had already brought together a UK sub-contracting team consisting of BAC, Hawker Siddeley, Rolls-Royce (engines) and Shorts with final assembly and flight testing being carried out at St. Louis but, with one eye on the European market, McDonnell Douglas moved final assembly to Brough (North Humberside) with flight testing at Holme on Spalding Moor. This decision came a bit late for the Royal Navy whose F-4K aircraft continued to be assembled and flight tested in the USA but all F-4M's were produced in the UK with all odd production numbers being allocated to the RAF and all even numbers to the USAFE with Lakenheath and Bitburg becoming the first USAFE wings to re-equip with the type.


Entering service with the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing based at RAF Lakenheath in England in 1970 the F-4M's received a modest upgrade during 1973-1974 to emerge with the Marconi ARI18228 RWR mounted on the fintip and also gained 'slimer' formation-keeping strip lights. The USAF F-4M's had a relatively long career with USAFE and were eventually replaced by F-15E's during 1990 and just missed out on participation in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.














Some evocative piccies here - please check them out.


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New slimers added, spelling of Nite Owls amended (lol - two nations divided by a common language) and a cute little stencilled owl added.

Edited by Spinners
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