Hobbymaster 1/72nd scale HA19008 McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II 20th Anniversary Phantom “First In Phantoms” BuNo.153777, VF-74, Oceana NAS, 1981. Buy now online at Flying Tigers.
The F-4J was the last version produced for the USN and USMC. The “J” version was basically an upgraded “B” version with new radar and avionics as well as a better engine that required a longer afterburner nozzle. One of the most noticeable changes to the “J” version is what isn’t there; the infrared seeker under the nose was deleted. Also missing was an internal gun but Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles were used for intercepting. Between 1966 and 1972 there were 522 F-4Js built. The F-4J had the distinction of scoring the only USMC air-to-air combat victory in Vietnam and it also was the last US operational aircraft in South East Asia. In mid 1970 the F-4 Phantom II was being replaced by the new and improved F-14 Tomcat.
VF-74 “Bedevilers” were the first USN squadron to be deployed with the F-4 Phantom II. In July 1961 VF-74 traded their Douglas Skyrays for the F4H-1/F-4B thereby becoming the “First In Phantom”. During the next twenty years VF-74 would fly three variants of the Phantoms 13 times on Mediterranean cruises and twice to SEA. In those twenty years 15777 spent time with other squadrons but by 1981 returned to VF-74 and given the special scheme “20 years 1961 – 1981 First In Phantoms”. In 1984 15777 was sent to the bone yard.