McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II...

...Air Superiority Legend, from The History Press

Title:  McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II

Author: Mark A. Chambers

Publisher:  The History Press

ISBN:  978-0-7509-8279-5

A paperback, landscape format book by Mark A. Chambers holds a magnificent collection of photos covering the long service life of one of the classic Cold War jets, the F-4 Phantom II.  Originally focussed on carrier operations it became an equally capable land based aircraft and was very much a multi-role aircraft.  The front cover grabs your attention with a lovely photo of an example in the well known South East Asia camouflage used over Vietnam, with tan/green/dark green upper surfaces and pale grey undersurfaces.

Inside, the book is split across 11 chapters, starting off with the background story of the manufacturer, McDonnell Aircraft Corporation and its' move to become the McDonnell Doulas Corporation.  This moves on to the Design and Development story, and its' subsequent entry into operational service in 1961 with the US Navy VF-121.  A brief mention deals with the Cuban Missile Crisis, when though the Phantom saw no service, they were part of the deterrent in the area aboard the USS Enterprise.  Action followed as US Navy Phantoms took part in their early missions over North Vietnam, following the Gulf of Tonkin Incident.  The USAF deployment of the F-4 came about in December 1964.  This section is accompanied by a good selection of archive photos showing the USN and USAF Phantoms in action, though from this period the photos are largely black and white rather than colour though this changes for the later period when colour pictures take over.  The detail shown in these, including the well known protective revetments used on airfields in Vietnam will be  very useful references for modellers.

A more peaceful role for chapter 6, that of a display aircraft.  Both the US Navy Blue Angels and USAF Thunderbirds display teams used the Phantom for a number of years.  Chapter 7 covers the use of the F-4 by the Israeli air force in various periods of combat in the Middle East.  In chapter 8 the topic moves on to the Cold War, and with a good selection of photos here showing specific details which modellers will especially like.  Chapter 9 examines the subject of Export Phantom IIs, one of the signs of the success of the F-4.  Japan, Israel, Germany, the UK (Royal Navy and RAF) and a number of other countries were all buyers.  Chapter 10 sees the Phantom still operational in 1990, particularly in the role of Wild Weasel anti-SAM and photo reconnaissance operations.  Everything is then rounded off with the final years of Phantom operations and where preserved examples can be found.

The heart of the book is the 'phabulous' collection of photos profiling the long career of the F-4 Phantom II and deserves to be popular not just with fans of this famous cold war jet but plenty of inspiration for aircraft modellers as well.  Very nicely done and one I happily recommend to add to your bookshelf.

From The History Press, who kindly provided my review copy.

Robin