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Old Viper Tester

Cruise Missile Chase Mission

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In watching giemme's WIP of a 1/72 F-4C, I've been adding some info on the F-4, at least as I knew it in the 1980s. Sometimes I get carried away and can kill a thread with too much extraneous information, so this topic is to relate some info that giemme's thread has brought to the front of my little brain without dragging his thread way off course.

The 6510th Test Wing at Edwards AFB maintained a relatively large fleet of F-4 variants for flight test support: RF-4Es for the USAF Test Pilot School curriculum, an F-4D used a a "Pacer" aircraft for pitot static calibration flights of other test aircraft, and a flight of F-4Es for the Cruise Missile safety chase mission. All of the F-4s were fair game for use as safety or photo chase missions against F-15s, F-16s, B-1s, etc. They were also used as radar targets for F-15s and F-16s, sometimes carrying electronic threat simulator pads such as ALQ-188 variants. Cruise missile chase was a rather unique mission...

The Air Force Flight Test Center inherited a flight of early model F-4Es when the Thunderbirds gave up their Phantoms in favor of T-38s because of the 1970s oil "crisis". These aircraft had several modifications that would have to be removed to turn them over to operational units. It was just easier to turn them over to Air Force Systems Command, which was used to operating modified and odd-ball aircraft.

 

66-0319 6512ts ED R-2508 19850121 20cr

 

The long-range missions would consist of up to six F-4s and a KC-135 tanker. The first chase pair would meet the launch B-52 near the launch point (ALCM) or orbit the submarine launch point (SLCM) in the Pacific. The tanker and other chase aircraft would loiter at points along the intended missile path to the impact or recovery location.

The F-4s would follow the missile as it went through its paces, when fuel would become low, they would radio for the next pair to rendezvous and pick up the chase, once the new pair were chasing the missile, the relieved pair would head for the tanker, this tag-team act would continue until the missile crashed, was "terminated", or impacted on the range target.

ALCM Chase

 

Take-off

66-0377 6512ts ED KEDW 19850528 13cr

 

The upper wing surfaces were painted white to facilitate finding the team chasing the missile waiting to be relieved, since most of the chase was as low-level and the air refueling and loitering was done at around 25,000 ft.

66-0377 6512ts ED R-2508 19850528 34cr

 

Note that the white extended below the wing leading edge.

66-0291 6512ts ED R-2508 19850107 34cr

 

Note '289 sports a small grey deer silhouette on the splitter plate. Denotes a "kill" after hitting a deer on landing at Eglin AFB while on a cross country mission. For a while, the aircraft had the legend "DEER SLAYER" on the cannon fairing in two-inch high black letters.

66-0289 6512ts ED KEDW 19840831 06cr

 

Over the mines near Boron CA

66-0329 6512ts ED R-2508 19840728 15cr

 

Returning from Dugway

66-0289 6512ts ED R-2508 19840831 08cr

 

Final approach in the lead

66-0289 6512ts ED KEDW 19840831 12cr1

 

roll-out

66-0319 6512ts ED KEDW 19850121 23cr

 

Sven

Edited by Old Viper Tester
re-established links to images.

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Great shots, really good.

Was the underside of the wings also painted white or just the tops?

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Was the underside of the wings also painted white or just the tops?

Just the top surfaces were white. The white did wrap around the leading edge flaps and around the wing tips.

The ALCM Chase Flight jets were: 66-0286, 66-0289, 66-0291, 66-0294, 66-0315, 66-0319, 66-0329, and 66-0377.

Two other jets were given names, temporarily, besides Deer Slayer:

“Dopey” – In 1983, the ALCM chase flight maintainers thought it a good idea to name each aircraft. Local lore has it that since there were eight aircraft, a Snow White and the seven dwarfs theme was selected. Unfortunately, they started with “DOPEY” on s/n 66-0291. The powers that be were not amused and “DOPEY” was the only aircraft to receive a dwarf name - simply stenciled in black, 2-inch high capital letters, centered on the gun fairing. I doubt many of the other names in the series would have met with approval either. What kind of a name for a Phantom is “Snow White” anyway? The name “DOPEY” remained for about two years.

“The Love Machine” – For reasons that remain a mystery, aircraft 69-0329 carried the name “THE LOVE MACHINE” on the gun fairing in 1991. This was after the aircraft was sporting the Albino Rhino scheme for more than a year. The lettering was small, 1-inch high, in black capital letters.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v29/Phantomtoo/TestOps/66-0329%20911100%206512ts%2033_zps0y6bmrmx.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v29/Phantomtoo/TestOps/66-0329%20911100%206512ts%2038_zpsuq58cc5q.jpg

Note that all the ex-Thunderbirds had the short cannon fairing with no gun port.

All of the AFFTC phantoms went to white and red-orange hi-viz markings in 1987-88. From then on being referred to as Albino Rhinos.

'319 showing the underside leading edges in white.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v29/Phantomtoo/TestOps/66-0319%206512ts%2019850121%2019_zpsvcp50cti.jpg

'281 underside and the left external tank with a replacement nose.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v29/Phantomtoo/TestOps/66-02916512ts850075b.jpg

"My" aircraft...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v29/Phantomtoo/TestOps/66-0289%206512ts%2019900703%2008_zpsf9kmq5wu.jpg

Not ALCM chase jets, but other Albino Rhinos...

63-7409 with a white radome

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v29/Phantomtoo/TestOps/63-74096512ts89050303.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v29/Phantomtoo/TestOps/65-06706512ts89062114.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v29/Phantomtoo/TestOps/66-74836512ts850200.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v29/Phantomtoo/TestOps/66-74836512ts85020008.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v29/Phantomtoo/TestOps/66-0384%206512ts%2019920204%2027_zpsgm4pjqeh.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v29/Phantomtoo/TestOps/66-0384%206512ts%2019890605%2009_zpsud0bmilu.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v29/Phantomtoo/TestOps/66-7483%206512ts%2019850200%2014cr_zpsiaeuooho.jpg

This one was always an Albino, YF-4E 65-0713. Referred to as The sweetheart, it was pretty much an F-4D from the cockpit aft bulkhead to the tail, and an F-4E from that bulkhead forward. Most of the time it carried a shark mouth (I think Hasegawa released a 1/72 kit with those markings). It would lose the shark mouth when it went for depot maintenance, but when it returned to Edwards the mouth would be re-applied.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v29/Phantomtoo/TestOps/65-07136512ts84041122.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v29/Phantomtoo/TestOps/65-07136512ts84041116.jpg

Sven

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Wonderful pics and stories, thanks for sharing them Sven. Maybe you can talk Giemme into building a white Phantom!

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I agree with Cookie, wonderful photos and stories. :thumbsup:

Maybe you can talk Giemme into building a white Phantom!

Yeah, sure, every modeler's favorite color to spray! :frantic::banghead::banghead:

Ciao

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Fascinating information and photos, thanks very much for sharing.

Andrew.

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Posted (edited)

Hi All, 

I was stationed at Edwards in the Avionics Maintenance Squadron, Comm shop, from August 1981 through  summer of 1983, and do not recall any of the F-4E ALCM chase planes being named. Must have happened after I left.

I hadn't thought much about  713, as my favorite was always 744- the white/orange RF-4C. I recall being told it was the fastest F-4 ever because of the fast nose, gloss paint, and tweaked engines, but that was probably just a story.

But I have since have a new-found admiration for her, as she was Chuck Yeager's last active-duty aircraft, was the prototype "E", as well as the testbed for the "G" Wild Weasel. Retired in the early 1990s,  65-0713 is now preserved at Edwards.

 

One of my pre-digital pics of 713, circa 1982

uXjnXBzl.jpg

Edited by gehills937@gmail.com

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Looks like I need to refresh the image links from Photobucket to Flickr.

 

Sven

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Thanks for your recollections of the ALCM missions, I knew what they were doing, but didn't know several of the details.

 

A couple of things, from my memory, which is not perfect:

I don't recall any RF-4Es at Edwards

I also don't recall working on a "D" model.

 

My recollection was the ALCM planes were F-4E (ex-thunderbirds- the odd, T-bird equipment being LF-ADF (for some unknown reason))

The test pilot school flew the YF-4E - 713, RF-4C 744, T-38s (which were also used as targets for various planes being tested).

My friend got an "Incentive flight" to re-enlist. 

He flew, back seat in a Talon, as a target for an F-15, and took my camera with him.

spacer.png

With a female, major, test pilot.

She had to be one of the first women at the test pilot school.

There was one (gloss-grey) F-4C, loaded with orange prototype equipment.

And a few T/A-37s to train pilots in spin recovery.

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Hi Grant,

 

I'm not aware of any RF-4Es ever being at Edwards. The newer J79 installation was already well known from the F-4E program, so just a few test flights were flown out of St Louis. The USAF never owned any of the RF-4Es and the only foreign F-4s that were tested at Edwards were the F-4Fs for West Germany under the Peace Rhine program.

 

I only recall two D models at Edwards: 64-0952 and 65-0670. I think '670 may have been a pacer bird, but my memory is fuzzy on that.

 

Yes, the entire ALCM flight were ex T-Birds. None of them had radar or a gun, and the most aft fuel tank (#7?) locked out - the T-birds used it for oil to create smoke.

 

In TPS, we only used '713 for practice. There were two RF-4Cs that were dedicated to the stability and control part of the TPS curriculum: '744 and '850.

 

The A-37Bs were used for spin familiarization, but they were also used in the first part of the TPS curriculum for performance testing.

 

There were dedicated T-38s used for TPS, they were the ones with the large nose boom: 63-08135, 68-08153, 68-08154, and 68-08205.

 

The TPS class was divided up into different teams for each phase of the curriculum. I had the A-37B for performance, the RF-4C for flying qualities, and the NT-33 for the final, which in my case was variable stability and control.

 

The first female test pilot, Jackie Parker, didn't graduate TPS until 1989.  It wouldn't surprise me if the pilot was Maj Connie Engel. I don't remember what job she had on base, but she was married to Richard Engel. He was Chief of Academics at TPS and then the commander of the F-16/LANTIRN CTF in the early '80s and later came back to be the wing commander and then AFFTC commander. He and Connie were both great people. Connie flew T-38s and she took most of the incentive flights. I flew with her quite a few times on test support missions. Just a bit of trivia - Connie was the first woman to graduate USAF Undergraduate Pilot Training.

 

Two F-4Cs were in ADC Grey in the early '80s: 63-7408 and 68-0409. '408 came back from depot is SEA colors in late 1983/early 1984. '409 was painted white in 1984.

 

If you do a search in this forum, I've done posts here on the NA-37B mission and on F-4C 63-7408.

 

Cheers,

Sven

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4 hours ago, Old Viper Tester said:

Hi Grant,

 

I'm not aware of any RF-4Es ever being at Edwards. The newer J79 installation was already well known from the F-4E program, so just a few test flights were flown out of St Louis. The USAF never owned any of the RF-4Es and the only foreign F-4s that were tested at Edwards were the F-4Fs for West Germany under the Peace Rhine program.

 

I only recall two D models at Edwards: 64-0952 and 65-0670. I think '670 may have been a pacer bird, but my memory is fuzzy on that.

 

Yes, the entire ALCM flight were ex T-Birds. None of them had radar or a gun, and the most aft fuel tank (#7?) locked out - the T-birds used it for oil to create smoke.

 

In TPS, we only used '713 for practice. There were two RF-4Cs that were dedicated to the stability and control part of the TPS curriculum: '744 and '850.

 

The A-37Bs were used for spin familiarization, but they were also used in the first part of the TPS curriculum for performance testing.

 

There were dedicated T-38s used for TPS, they were the ones with the large nose boom: 63-08135, 68-08153, 68-08154, and 68-08205.

 

The TPS class was divided up into different teams for each phase of the curriculum. I had the A-37B for performance, the RF-4C for flying qualities, and the NT-33 for the final, which in my case was variable stability and control.

 

The first female test pilot, Jackie Parker, didn't graduate TPS until 1989.  It wouldn't surprise me if the pilot was Maj Connie Engel. I don't remember what job she had on base, but she was married to Richard Engel. He was Chief of Academics at TPS and then the commander of the F-16/LANTIRN CTF in the early '80s and later came back to be the wing commander and then AFFTC commander. He and Connie were both great people. Connie flew T-38s and she took most of the incentive flights. I flew with her quite a few times on test support missions. Just a bit of trivia - Connie was the first woman to graduate USAF Undergraduate Pilot Training.

 

Two F-4Cs were in ADC Grey in the early '80s: 63-7408 and 68-0409. '408 came back from depot is SEA colors in late 1983/early 1984. '409 was painted white in 1984.

 

If you do a search in this forum, I've done posts here on the NA-37B mission and on F-4C 63-7408.

 

Cheers,

Sven

I love the personal or more human aspects of these post as they add so much more to the very interesting but impersonal technical aspects (which are very interesting in their own right).

Thanks for taking the time to post.

 

Duncan B

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Yes, thank you, very much.

Like I said, I knew what I knew from my, very limited, (read low-ranking) perspective.

It is great to hear these higher level/rank, details.

It adds depth to my memories.

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