Beautiful 1:48 scale Sundowners F-4B Phantom II by Andrew Perry
Sundowners McDonnell Douglas F-4B Phantom II: The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor and fighter-bomber originally developed by McDonnell Aircraft for the United States Navy.
Proving highly adaptable, it first entered service with the Navy in 1961 before it was adopted by the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force, and by the mid-1960s it had become a major part of their air arms.
Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981 with a total of 5,195 aircraft built, making it the most produced American supersonic military aircraft in history, and cementing its position as an iconic combat aircraft of the Cold War.
The Phantom is a large fighter with a top speed of over Mach 2.2. It can carry more than 18,000 pounds (8,400 kg) of weapons on nine external hardpoints, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs.
The F-4, like other interceptors of its time, was initially designed without an internal cannon. Later models incorporated an M61 Vulcan rotary cannon. Beginning in 1959, it set 15 world records for in-flight performance, including an absolute speed record and an absolute altitude record.
The USN operated the F4H-1 (re-designated F-4A in 1962) with J79-GE-2 and -2A engines of 16,100 lbf (71.62 kN) thrust and later builds receiving -8 engines. A total of 45 F-4As were built; none saw combat, and most ended up as test or training aircraft.
The USN and USMC received the first definitive Phantom, the F-4B which was equipped with the Westinghouse APQ-72 radar (pulse only), a Texas Instruments AAA-4 Infrared search and track pod under the nose, an AN/AJB-3 bombing system and powered by J79-GE-8,-8A and -8B engines of 10,900 lbs. of thrust dry and 16,950 lbs. of thrust with afterburner with the first flight on 25 March 1961.
649 F-4Bs were built with deliveries beginning in 1961 and VF-121 Pacemakers receiving the first examples at NAS Miramar.
The USAF received Phantoms as the result of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s push to create a unified fighter for all branches of the US military. After an F-4B won the “Operation Highspeed” fly-off against the Convair F-106 Delta Dart, the USAF borrowed two Naval F-4Bs, temporarily designating them F-110A in January 1962, and developed requirements for their own version.
Unlike the US Navy’s focus on air-to-air interception in the Fleet Air Defense (FAD) mission, the USAF emphasized both an air-to-air and an air-to-ground fighter-bomber role. With McNamara’s unification of designations on 18 September 1962, the Phantom became the F-4 with the naval version designated F-4B and USAF F-4C. The first Air Force Phantom flew on 27 May 1963, exceeding Mach 2 on its maiden flight.
The model Andrew depicted represents an F-4B from VF-111. Fighter Squadron 111 (VF-111), also known as the Sundowners, was a fighter squadron of the United States Navy. Originally established as Fighter Squadron 11 (VF-11) on 10 October 1942, it was redesignated as VF-11A on 15 November 1946, redesignated as VF-111 on 15 July 1948 and disestablished on 19 January 1959. On 20 January, another squadron, VF-111 (1956-95) then assumed the designation until its de-establishment in 1995.
In November 2006, VFC-13 Detachment Key West was redesignated as VFC-111, taking on the Sundowner insignia and callsign.
The Scale Model section of The Florida Pilot is a relatively new one. There are so many talented modelers out there that put thousands of hours of work into these masterpieces, I think I have an obligation as a journalist to bring some light to their efforts.
The historic value and research value that goes into a build like this one, and others, make these kinds of story features a win-win-win. Please contact me if you’d like to feature a model in this section. Many thanks go out to Michał Wołowczyk for his cooperation in helping me put this together. I think there’s a good chance you will be seeing more from Andrew.
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