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MAPA commemorates a part of F-4 history

Members from 75th Civil Engineering Squadron Fire Department harvest the tail off an F-4E Phantom II Sept. 5, 2017. The Mature and Proven Aircraft division acquired the tail from the aircraft to commemorate and display at their division headquarters at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (Courtesy photo)

Members from 75th Civil Engineering Squadron Fire Department harvest the tail off an F-4E Phantom II Sept. 5, 2017. The Mature and Proven Aircraft division acquired the tail from the aircraft to commemorate and display at their division headquarters at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (Courtesy photo)

A tail that was harvested off an F-4E Phantom II is lifted onto a truck by members from the 576th Aircraft Transportation Group Sept. 5, 2017. The tail was acquired by the Mature and Proven Aircraft Division for commemoration and display at their division headquarters at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (Courtesy photo)

A tail that was harvested off an F-4E Phantom II is lifted onto a truck by members from the 576th Aircraft Transportation Group Sept. 5, 2017. The tail was acquired by the Mature and Proven Aircraft Division for commemoration and display at their division headquarters at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (Courtesy photo)

Technical Sgt. Robert Gutierrez, 388th Maintenance Squadron Corrosion/Paint Shop, paints the harvested tail of an F-4E Phantom Jan. 9, 2019. The tail was acquired for the Mature and Proven Aircraft division for display at their division office at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The tail was painted in Vietnam-era camouflage colors in honor of the 388th Fighter Wing that flew the aircraft during that era. (U.S. Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

Technical Sgt. Robert Gutierrez, 388th Maintenance Squadron Corrosion/Paint Shop, paints the harvested tail of an F-4E Phantom Jan. 9, 2019. The tail was acquired for the Mature and Proven Aircraft division for display at their division office at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The tail was painted in Vietnam-era camouflage colors in honor of the 388th Fighter Wing that flew the aircraft during that era. (U.S. Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

The newly painted tail of an F-4E Phantom stands on display at the Mature and Proven Aircraft Division headquarters at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. MAPA acquired the tail and restored it in Vietnam-era camouflage colors in honor of the 388th Fighter Wing that flew the aircraft during that time period.

The newly painted tail of an F-4E Phantom stands on display at the Mature and Proven Aircraft Division headquarters at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. MAPA acquired the tail and restored it in Vietnam-era camouflage colors in honor of the 388th Fighter Wing that flew the aircraft during that time period. (U.S. Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah --

The Mature and Proven Aircraft Division has preserved a piece of history commemorating the F-4E Phantom II, one of the airplanes the division manages.

A tail was harvested from an F-4E slated for destruction at the Hill Aerospace Museum. After repairs and a new paint job, the tail is now displayed at MAPA’s division headquarters at Hill.

“The recovery, transportation, repair, paint and display has been a true Team Hill effort,” said Angela Micheal, MAPA division chief. 

Members from the museum, the 75th Civil Engineering Squadron Fire Department, the 576th Aircraft Transportation Group, the 75th Logistics Readiness Squadron, the 388th Fighter Wing Corrosion/Paint shop, and MAPA division personnel all contributed to the tail recovery and preservation from the F‑4E tail number 68-0304.

“This F-4 tail is a beautiful commemoration to a legendary aircraft, a wonderful piece of Air Force history and more than a testament to the men and women who were part of its story,” said Micheal. “I often meet people who were a maintainer or an operator of the F-4 and they usually have a story to share about this airplane buff favorite.”

The McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II is a tandem (two-seat), twin engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet aircraft capable of performing air-to-air, air-to-ground, and photographic (reconnaissance) missions.

It can carry 18,000 pounds of weapons on nine external hardpoints, including air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs. 

McDonnell Douglas produced 5,201 F-4 aircraft from 1959 until 1979.  Beginning in 1959, it set 15 world records for in-flight performance, including an absolute speed record, and absolute altitude record.

During its 35-year history, the F-4E provided frontline air defense for the Air Force, Air National Guard, Navy, Marine Corps, and many foreign countries. It was also the only aircraft used by both U.S. flight demonstration teams, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

Hill has its own history with the F-4E. From 1969 to 1975, the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, now known as the 388th Fighter Wing, was stationed at Korat Royal Thai Air Base during the Vietnam conflict. One of the aircraft its squadrons flew was the F-4E.

In Dec. 1975, the 388th TFW was inactivated at Korat and relocated to Hill; at the same time the F-4Es also departed Korat, flying to Hill. The 388th TFW flew its first sorties in the F-4E over Utah in March 1976 and flew them until Jan. 1979, when they received their first F-16s.  

The F-4E aircraft that MAPA harvested tail number 68-0304 from became a test aircraft at Hill in April 1992 and was assigned to the former 2721st Munitions Maintenance and Test Squadron (currently 649th Munitions Maintenance and Test Squadron). Eventually the aircraft was given to the museum.

The tail was painted in Vietnam conflict era camouflage in honor of the 388th FW by the 388th Corrosion/Paint shop. The display location is in building 1285 near the MAPA division office.

Micheal said members of MAPA division will have the opportunity to sign the F-4 tail upon retirement if they desire. “This tail serves as a reminder of the rich heritage of the aircraft managed by the MAPA division and is a visible testimony to Team Hill,” she said.