Aviation Art Prints depicting the McDonnell-Douglas Phantom in British Service.
The McDonnell-Douglas F-4 'Phantom' family has served a myriad of air arms in a career that has lasted more than 50 years. Now approaching the end of its frontline service, we have decided to produce the "Phantom Portfolio" with a view to representing each British squadron to use this much-loved jet fighter.
Britain's use of the F-4 family began in 1968 with two separate marks, the F-4K and F-4M (designated FG.1 and FGR.2 by the UK) being purchased for use by both the Fleet Air Arm and land-based RAF Squadrons. These aircraft were unique in that they were fitted with Rolls Royce Spey engines, replacing the original GE J79 fitted to all other F4s. The cancellation of the re-building of the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle allowed 20 FG.1 aircraft to be delivered to the RAF's 43 Sqn from new. The FGR.2 began its career with 6 Squadron in the ground-attack role and it was not until 1974 that 111 Squadron became the first FGR.2 unit to operate the aircraft in the Air Defence role. With the withdrawal of HMS Ark Royal in the late 1970s, her complement of F-4K (FG.1) aircraft were also transferred to the RAF.
Squadrons were gradually re-equipped until a total of 14 squadrons operated the Phantom. After the Falklands War of 1982, a permanent air defence capability was required on the islands, so a squadron was dispatched to the area, thus leaving a gap in the Air Defence of Great Britain. To fill this gap, 15 F-4J (ex US Navy) aircraft were acquired and 74 squadron re-formed to use them. The aircraft would equip the squadron until 1991 when it was re-equipped with standard FGR.2 aircraft.
The final RAF squadrons to use the Phantom were 74 Sqn and 56 Sqn, based at RAF Wattisham, the last of their FGR.2 being retired in late 1992.