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Posted 9/27/2007 Printable Fact Sheet
Phantom II 1
McDonnell Douglas F-4C-16-MC "Phantom II" S/N 63-7424
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McDonnell Douglas F-4C-16-MC "Phantom II"
S/N 63-7424

Crew:   Two
Engines:   Two General Electric J79-GE-15 turbojets; 17,000 lbs thrust each in afterburner
Wingspan:   38 ft 4 7/8 in
Length:   58 ft 3 3/4 in
Height:   16 ft 3 in
Weight:   max: 58,000 lbs; empty: 28,496 lbs
Speed:   max: 1,433 mph
Range:   ferry: 2,000 miles; combat: 538 miles
Service Ceiling:   56,100 ft
Armament:   4 AIM-7 Sparrow AAMs, 4 AIM-9 Sidewinders, up to 16,000 lbs ordnance
Cost:   $2,200,000 (approximate)

This F-4C-16-MC, S/N 63-7424, was manufactured by McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation in St Louis, Missouri, and accepted by the USAF on February 3, 1964 after test flights by McDonnell Douglas pilots. Two days later, the aircraft burned on the ground with only fourteen hours on the airframe. 

Heavy damage was sustained by the center wing section and the underside of the aircraft. At that time the Ogden Air Logistics Center Directorate of Maintenance was in need of an F-4 aircraft for hands-on training, so it was agreed by all responsible agencies that the badly damaged aircraft would be turned over to Air Force Materiel Command and that OOALC would repair it.

In June 1964 a recovery team was dispatched from Hill AFB to recover the F-4. With the assistance of McDonnell Douglas employees, the plane was disassembled, crated up, and carried to Utah on three flat-bed trucks. In just over one year, the OOALC Directorate of Maintenance thoroughly repaired and rebuilt the plane, making it the first aircraft to be put through the F-4 Crash Damage Repair Program at Hill. 

The restored aircraft made its second maiden flight on 25 March 1966 and was subsequently assigned to the Area Support Group for flight test support. There it was modified with special wiring, instrumentation, and antennas for its new duties.

But the plane's unusual history did not end there. One day a maintenance technician was conducting a preflight checkout of the plane and stepped over into the cockpit to run the canopy down and observe the linkage to make sure it locked properly. The technician did not sit in the ejection seat, but rather stepped onto the seat and squatted down low enough for the canopy to close, then reached around and hit the canopy switch. When the canopy came down the ejection seat accidentally fired, killing the technician instantly.

Despite its rather inauspicious beginnings, "Old 424" went on to safely fly countless flight test missions over the years, spending almost its entire life at Hill as an engineering "white bird." It was used as a test bed for untold numbers of F-4 aircraft modifications and was also used to perform munitions tests on the nearby Utah Test and Training Range.

In October 1983 the aircraft was loaned to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at Edwards AFB, California, for support of flight test operations. On 29 August 1985 the plane returned to Hill to resume flight test support for OOALC. It was finally removed from the USAF inventory and transferred to Hill Aerospace Museum for static display in December 1989.

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