The Phantom is a large fighter with a top speed of over Mach 2.2. It can carry over 18,000 pounds (8,400 kg) of weapons on nine external hardpoints, including air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs. The F-4, like other interceptors of its time, was designed without an internal cannon, but later models incorporated a M61 Vulcan rotary cannon. Beginning in 1959, it set 15 world records, including an absolute speed record, and an absolute altitude record.
The Marines received their first F-4Bs in June 1962, with the "Black Knights" of VMFA-314 at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California becoming the first operational squadron. In addition to attack variants, the Marines also operated several tactical reconnaissance RF-4Bs. Marine Phantoms from VMFA-531 arrived in Vietnam on 10 April 1965, flying close air support missions from land bases as well as from the aircraft carrier USS America. Marine F-4 pilots claimed three enemy MiGs (two while on exchange duty with the USAF) at the cost of 75 aircraft lost in combat, mostly to ground fire, and four in accidents. The F-4 continue to equip fighter-attack squadrons in both the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Reserve throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. In the early 1980s, these squadrons began to transition to the F/A-18 Hornet, starting with the same squadron that introduced the F-4 to the Marine Corps, VMFA-314 at MCAS El Toro, California. Concurrent with this transition, the Marine Corps RF-4B squadrons slowly disestablished in favor of pod-mounted systems on F/A-18 strike aircraft.
1.VMFP-3 U.S. Marine Corps, #7347
2.VMFP-3 U.S. Marine Corps. #7351
Skill Level 3
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