by Tommy H. Thomason

Monday, August 21, 2017

F-4 Phantom ACLS Radar Reflector

ACLS is the initialism for Automatic Carrier Landing System. For more, see http://thanlont.blogspot.com/2011/07/look-no-hands.html

Up until now, I'd never seen a good picture of the radar reflector as incorporated on the F-4 Phantom although I'm sure there must be one or more in the F-4 books that I don't have. This was the best I could come up with. There was a door under the nose and a corner reflector extended from the compartment it was housed in.

Thanks to Angelo Romano, we now have one:
It took me a few minutes to figure out how it folded up even with this illustration in hand, which depicts the reflector from behind:
If you look closely at Angelo's picture above, there is a line on the panel on the left (on the right side of the F-4) that shows where it folds in half. It is then sandwiched between the upper panel and the one on the right to form a very compact package that can be stored in the space available.

8 comments:

  1. Hi Tommy, great detail shot. Thanks for making it available.

    Was this device only fitted to to F-4B's and Navy F-4Gs?

    I can't recall ever seeing it on any of the hundreds of F-4J or even N photos I have.

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    1. That photo with the Red Shirt in it is an F-4J, you can tell by that small radome with the labeling "Static System Drain" on it. That is the "little bump" on the bottome of an F-4J radome. (or F-4S, it had the same feature on the radome)

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    2. My guess is that the reflector only extended when the ACLS was selected. I have a few pictures of Phantoms on approach to the carrier with it extended. One is shown in the post.

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  2. It wasn't used on the F-4B, the F-4G was the conversion to test it and implement it.

    It started on the F-4G conversions from F-4B, then was used on the F-4J, later on it was used on F-4N and F-4S. (the first F-4G didn't have a door, the reflector was permanently mounted on that one)

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    1. No that's incorrect. Some F-4Bs were modified with ACLS for example VF-14 & VF-32 transitioned to "new" reworked F-4Bs in October 1972 that had been modified with ACLS & Data Link (also ALR-45/50 RHAW/ECM). I have an image of F-4B 152222 AB205 landing aboard JFK in 1973 with the Radar reflector deployed. Can't see a way of posting it here though?

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    2. Peter - if you send the photo to me I'll add it to the post with a credit to you. Thanks, T

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  3. Hello,
    three good pictures can be found in Danny Coremans Book: Uncovering the US Navy Q/F-4B/J/N/S Phantom, page 133. But not with the excellent background information provided here :-)

    Regards,

    Martin

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    1. Thanks - I have several F4H books but not that one.

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