by Tommy H. Thomason

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Early Phantom IIs Redux

In the process of developing a reference package for a resin kit manufacturer who is interested in producing a conversion to the early F4H Phantoms, I annotated some pictures to illustrate the differences. For the original post, click HERE. (I also revised the configuration matrix posted there based on Rex's comments. The only error corrected was the number of bombs on the #11's demo, 22 instead of 24.)

Here is a summary of the major external differences that make up the combinations and permutations:

1) 24", no IR sensor
2) 24" with IR sensor
3) 32" with IR sensor

Engine inlets
1) Hooded on top
2) Hooded modified to eliminate the hood (see second Sageburner)
3) Not hooded

1) No holes in aft ramp (XF4H only?)
2) No boundary layer discharge chutes
3) Boundary layer discharge chutes at top and bottom of ramp
4) Boundary layer discharge chute at bottom only

1) Flush NACA-type inlet on lower forward fuselage
2) Scoop inlet on lower forward fuselage

1) First five aircraft: No inboard leading edge flap; there were two RATs, one in the inboard leading edge of each wing
2) The rest of the F-4As and F-4Bs had an inboard leading edge flap and a RAT incorporated in the left mid fuselage.

Tailhook Fairing
There was a fairing behind the tailhook on the first several aircraft. It was removed early in development on the first F4H and not incorporated in production.

The original stabilator had a symmetrical leading edge. Probably as part of the redesign of the wing to provide increased lift for aircraft 6 and subsequent, a cambered leading edge was added. Interim stabilators have a zig-zag pattern at about 20% chord where they were modified. Production stabilators incorporated the cambered leading edge in the basic structure.

F4H-1 First Flight

F4H-1 First Flight Top View

F4H-1 In Development
Note that the "second pitot" was actually the source of air for the flight-control-system feel bellows.

F4H-1 No 4, 4 December 1959

Tailhook and Tailhook Fairing

I've modified this drawing since I first posted it yesterday to improve the shape of the tailhook and the fuselage aft of the hook as well as make some changes to the leading edge of the fin. Note that while the basic shape is based on MacAir drawings, they don't agree to within a line width and the details were added by reference to photographs. Slavish adherence to this drawing by a modeler would be inappropriate.

This is the best picture I can find of the original tailhook fairing, here in the May 1958 on the first F4H

However, although it was removed on the first F4H by December 1958 as shown here, it was still present on #6 during its first at-sea carrier trials.

This is the early tailhook. Note the flat bottom just aft of the afterburner nozzles.

This is the production tailhook, in this case on an F-4K.

F4H Carrier Qualification

F4H Carrier Trials Rudder

The bottom of the rudder was cut out, apparently to insure no interference with the stabilator when the rudder was fully deflected and the stabilator was full trailing edge up. This was not carried forward to production.


  1. I'm a modeller and I have in true my plans a 1/48 F-4H1.
    I need to know if are there images that show how was the exact shape of the modified titanium cone/keel in the first F-4H1, I speak of the zone that go from the tail hook end to the chute door.
    I have read that in the first F-4H1 there was a more bulged version of the keel but I have never seen a detailed image of that zone. More, I would to know when this detail has been changed.
    Hope You can help me.
    Thank You by Graziano from Italy.

  2. Excellent question. I hadn't noticed that change. I've updated this entry to illustrate it. Thanks.

  3. Sir it's again me, Graziano from Italy.
    Thank You for to have solved the "mistery" of the fairing.
    In the my research for info on the F-4H1 I have another question for You.
    Is possible for you to find detailed images of the ejection seat installed in the firts prototypes?
    I have seen many photos of the seat but in not one image it was clearly visible in detail.
    Thank You again!

  4. All I have, other than photographs that show the headrest, is a McDonnell illustration of the seat that I included in the earlier blog entry:

    Note that it lacks the seat cushion and back-pack parachute that would have been in the seat.

  5. Any info on McDonnell model 225. Their F-14 proposal , I found an artist rendering on Internet.What a beauty looks like it could fly circles around the Tom Cat.

    Jeff Joseph. Ex Grumman, McDonnell, Vought Tech Rep

  6. According to Spangenberg's oral history:
    We paid the contractors to submit proposals for the VFX, including Grumman, North American, McDonnell Douglas and General Dynamics. The proposals were submitted, we evaluated them, and Grumman was a hands down winner.

    However, to meet the rules that were being handed down by OSD, it was determined that we should carry two people through until we negotiated complete contracts. McDonnell Douglas was selected to provide the competition for Grumman.

  7. I recall Spangenberg’s oral history on the development of the F-14 and when he was referring to McDonnell’s entry he was calling it the “F-4 Thingee” like he was referring back to the F-4J(FV) which had a high mounted variable sweep wing which wasn’t the low wing 225 or ultimately 225A in the competition. I’ve seen other writers refer to the 225 as another F-4 version and the only fixed wing entry in the competition which actually the North American VFX proposal.

    Supposedly the 225 just met the requirements and was cheaper than the Grumman 303 so that was why it was still hanging in. The performance proposal for the 225 is still available and I have to wonder if the 303 proposal is still available to see if there is anything odd like when looking at the F-111B SCWIP.

  8. Please can you help with the following. I have started making a model of the XF4H-1 using your data but as soon as I started some more questions arose.
    Regarding the top view.
    1. There appears to be 'something' between the fuselage and the splitter plate. Was it a support of some kind and how far did it extend.

    2. What is it on the top of the fuselage behind the canopy. It looks like an additional transparency of some kind.
    Picture here (I hope!)

    Regarding the side view

    Was the instrument panel fairing on the prototype much smaller than that of the F4B
    John Rieley

  9. 1. There were two different things between the fuselage and the splitter plate, small horizontal stand-offs and a large wedge that diverted the fuselage boundary layer air above and below the nacelle. You can get some idea of this here: and here: Note that the early F4Hs had a thinner splitter plate. The narrow fixed ramp was at a 5º angle versus 10º for the wider production ramp and the variable ramp behind the fixed ramp was 10º (or 9º according to some sources) on the prototype versus 14º for production.

    2. The dark area immediately aft of the rear canopy is an access panel that was only on the early flush canopy airplanes.

    The cover over the instrument cases and wiring forward of (or from the pilot's viewpoint, behind) the instrument panel was omitted on some of the flight test airplanes.

  10. Thank you. I knew about the large wedge. It was the smaller stand-offs that I wanted to know about.

  11. On the F4H-1 was there an integral boarding ladder like on the other models? From the way things look to me the fuselage appears somewhat shorter than on the production models (I would imagine it is because of the 24" radome) and it doesn't appear that there is room between the sparrow well and panel 6L for the stairs. Every picture I see of the F4H-1 has a removable boarding ladder.

    Kim Simmelink

  12. The integral boarding ladder was basically the same from the first F4H to the last. The removable ladder made it a little easier to go up and down, particularly for a mechanic carrying an avionics box or flight instrument. There was a very small difference in the lower right kick-in door required because the ramp introduced with the 48th F4H extended a bit farther forward (see

  13. Am I correct in that "F4H-1 First Flight Top View" shown above is showing the aircraft with rounded wingtips? Was this only a feature on this first aircraft?

  14. The wingtips on the first Phantom were painted red, with the inside edge curved between the leading edge and the aft outboard corner of the wing tip. Red appears dark in a gray-scale photo and in this instance gives the impression that the wing tip is curved when it is really not.

  15. Tommy,

    You may want to change the annotations on the photos that point to the pitot tube: the lower "tube" that was added to the F4H-1 was not a pitot, but was the ram air inlet for the bellows (part of the the stab trim system). The pitot tube was moved to the front of the long nose F-4E, and the bellows tube remained in its original position.