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Phantom Tailhooks and Parachutes


Billy54

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I have a couple of questions concerning F-4 or Phantom tailhooks and parachutes and was curious to know if the forum had any answers.

 

First tailhooks on non naval Phantoms. Were they left on the aircraft to act as an emergency "slow down" device when an unexpected or unusual landing was encountered? If so were there any examples of this being the case? If not was there any thought or consideration given to removing the tailhooks?

 

Parachutes, I know that the Japanese used them on their F-4s, did any other country use them? Is anyone aware of any F-4 parachute models available in 1/72 scale?  

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Phantoms in Air Force (ie non carrier based forces) had tail hooks for airfield runway emergency arrestor cable (usually known as RHAGs) use, this had become common place for high-performance US and NATO combat aircraft by the late 1950s, such as on F-100s, F-104s, 105s, Lightnings etc.  Many of these aircrfat hada hook that could be deployed form the cockpi but not raisable from the cockpit, I believe the Phantom retained down and up control.

There are definitely pictures of RAF Phantoms performing runway cable engagements,

There's a couple (pics 2 & 4) in the link here of RAF Phantoms using the hook,

https://fightercontrol.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=145344

 

My understanding is that all Phantoms were built as brake parachute capable, but certainly seen US, German, British (inc Royal Navy) and Greek Phantoms deploying brake chutes.

 

35883210836_ded2b5235f_h.jpg

F-4E Phantom AUP 01618 by James Thomas, on Flickr

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IIRC all Phantoms retained the wing fold capability - albeit some being hydraulicly powered and the rest being muscle powered; I once read that it was cheaper to keep the wing fold than redesign and change the production lines.

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2 hours ago, 71chally said:

Phantoms in Air Force (ie non carrier based forces) had tail hooks for airfield runway emergency arrestor cable (usually known as RHAGs) use, this had become common place for high-performance US and NATO combat aircraft by the late 1950s, such as on F-100s, F-104s, 105s, Lightnings etc.  Many of these aircrfat hada hook that could be deployed form the cockpi but not raisable from the cockpit, I believe the Phantom retained down and up control.

There are definitely pictures of RAF Phantoms performing runway cable engagements,

There's a couple (pics 2 & 4) in the link here of RAF Phantoms using the hook,

https://fightercontrol.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=145344

 

My understanding is that all Phantoms were built as brake parachute capable, but certainly seen US, German, British (inc Royal Navy) and Greek Phantoms deploying brake chutes.

 

35883210836_ded2b5235f_h.jpg

F-4E Phantom AUP 01618 by James Thomas, on Flickr

 

Thank you, I appreciate your response and accompaning images. Do you know if all airfields that were Phantoms bases were RHAG capable?

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2 hours ago, Billy54 said:

 

Thank you, I appreciate your response and accompaning images. Do you know if all airfields that were Phantoms bases were RHAG capable?

Don't know about worldwide, but most RAF and USAF UK airfields had RHAGS/cables.

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BAK-12 is the name of the cable system and there is also a portable system for airfields that are not equipped. 

If you search for RAAF F-4 (s/n 69-7234) landing accident that occured in 1970, you will get some good info on when the runway cable doesn't work as advertised. 

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On my first operational check ride in Germany, summer 1984, our jet had a utility hydraulic system failure.  The checklist says, "Land as soon as practical."  So we went to Neuberg AB and spent a few days there.  With Utility Hyd failure you lose nose wheel steering and brakes, among other stuff.  We used the tail hook to catch the approach end cable.  The failure was due to a wing leading edge slat hydraulic line fracturing and spewing hydraulic fluid somewhere over the Low Fly 7 area.

Another time, Hahn AB had some new cable systems installed on the runway, 1986-ish.  The cables handled F-16s well enough, but they wanted to verify the cables could handle the heavy iron.  My pilot and I flew over and did a series of high-speed taxi runs and engaged the cables multiple times.  The "bottom" of the hook, that contacts the ground, was very shiny after that.  (All of the soot from the engine exhaust was scraped off.)  That's one thing that nobody seems to model correctly, if you're doing a shipboard Navy jet.  They use the hook on every landing and it would be scraped clean on every landing.  (Or it collected melted tire rubber?  I don't know for sure.)

 

The tail hook was the same on all Phantom models.  There is a handle in the front cockpit to lower and raise the hook hydraulically.  For airshow "Low and Slow" passes, with gear and flaps down, most pilots would also lower the hook.  After the pass everything was returned to the normal flying configuration.

 

All Phantoms also had the capability to carry a drag chute.  US Air Force jets always carried the chute and we used it on every landing.  The USAF flight manual states a 25 knot crosswind landing limit for drag chute use.  The drag chute was also used for inflight out of control and spin recovery procedures, so I guess the Navy jets always carried one too.  

 

For wing folding, Navy jets and the USAF C and D models had hydraulic actuators to raise and lower the outer wing panels.  Navy jets had a switch in the cockpit, the USAF jets (C,D) had a switch in the left main gear well.  E and G models could be manually raised.  For USAF jets, there is a manual locking pin that the crew chief took care off.  As part of the preflight the crew verified the wing fold was locked by visually checking that the "unlock warning pin" was flush with the upper inner wing.  If unlocked, the pin stuck up about an inch above the wing skin, just inboard of the wing fold.  There are cases of F-4s taking off and the outer wing panel(s) folding up.  The cases I know of were: a single panel folding on an F-4E at Clark AB during takeoff.  The jet immediately rolled toward the folded wing side.  The backseater ejected with just enough upward angle to survive, the front seater did not.  There was a double failure on an F-4E out of Keflavik.  There are photos on the web, from a chase plane, showing the jet inflight with both outer wings sticking up.  I think I remember that those guys were able to land back at Kef.  

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13 hours ago, iainpeden said:

IIRC all Phantoms retained the wing fold capability - albeit some being hydraulicly powered and the rest being muscle powered; I once read that it was cheaper to keep the wing fold than redesign and change the production lines.

All the FGR2s were mandraulically powered wing fold, almost all the FG1's were hydraulically powered however there was at least one that wasn't (which I discovered to my horror when having to fold it up with a speed brace and muscle power). If I remember correctly it was one of the prototypes (or more accurately pre-production I guess?) that had been brought up to full spec and delivered to 43 Sqn.

 

Duncan B

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15 hours ago, plastiksurgeon said:

 

Thank you! I shall be ordering one of them later today.

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14 hours ago, Jay Gee said:

BAK-12 is the name of the cable system and there is also a portable system for airfields that are not equipped. 

If you search for RAAF F-4 (s/n 69-7234) landing accident that occured in 1970, you will get some good info on when the runway cable doesn't work as advertised. 

 

Thank you, I did research that RAAF F-4 incident. You know it had slipped my mind that Australia flew F-4s while waiting for their F-111s.

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8 hours ago, Mark V said:

On my first operational check ride in Germany, summer 1984, our jet had a utility hydraulic system failure.  The checklist says, "Land as soon as practical."  So we went to Neuberg AB and spent a few days there.  With Utility Hyd failure you lose nose wheel steering and brakes, among other stuff.  We used the tail hook to catch the approach end cable.  The failure was due to a wing leading edge slat hydraulic line fracturing and spewing hydraulic fluid somewhere over the Low Fly 7 area.

Another time, Hahn AB had some new cable systems installed on the runway, 1986-ish.  The cables handled F-16s well enough, but they wanted to verify the cables could handle the heavy iron.  My pilot and I flew over and did a series of high-speed taxi runs and engaged the cables multiple times.  The "bottom" of the hook, that contacts the ground, was very shiny after that.  (All of the soot from the engine exhaust was scraped off.)  That's one thing that nobody seems to model correctly, if you're doing a shipboard Navy jet.  They use the hook on every landing and it would be scraped clean on every landing.  (Or it collected melted tire rubber?  I don't know for sure.)

 

The tail hook was the same on all Phantom models.  There is a handle in the front cockpit to lower and raise the hook hydraulically.  For airshow "Low and Slow" passes, with gear and flaps down, most pilots would also lower the hook.  After the pass everything was returned to the normal flying configuration.

 

All Phantoms also had the capability to carry a drag chute.  US Air Force jets always carried the chute and we used it on every landing.  The USAF flight manual states a 25 knot crosswind landing limit for drag chute use.  The drag chute was also used for inflight out of control and spin recovery procedures, so I guess the Navy jets always carried one too.  

 

For wing folding, Navy jets and the USAF C and D models had hydraulic actuators to raise and lower the outer wing panels.  Navy jets had a switch in the cockpit, the USAF jets (C,D) had a switch in the left main gear well.  E and G models could be manually raised.  For USAF jets, there is a manual locking pin that the crew chief took care off.  As part of the preflight the crew verified the wing fold was locked by visually checking that the "unlock warning pin" was flush with the upper inner wing.  If unlocked, the pin stuck up about an inch above the wing skin, just inboard of the wing fold.  There are cases of F-4s taking off and the outer wing panel(s) folding up.  The cases I know of were: a single panel folding on an F-4E at Clark AB during takeoff.  The jet immediately rolled toward the folded wing side.  The backseater ejected with just enough upward angle to survive, the front seater did not.  There was a double failure on an F-4E out of Keflavik.  There are photos on the web, from a chase plane, showing the jet inflight with both outer wings sticking up.  I think I remember that those guys were able to land back at Kef.  

 

Thanks Mark, that was an interesting and informative post. It seems your hydraulic issue was similar to the issue that the RAAF F-4E had in the incident Jay Gee mentioned above. I also appreciated your comment on the "bottom" of the tailhook. Great post by you!

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You had to count your fingers after manually folding or extending the outer wings. Easy to lose one or two if you weren't careful. Holding the tailcone shut and latching it was also an art form. We listen very carefully to our retired crew chiefs when we have to fiddle with our charges.

 

When RHAGs were installed at RAF Woodbridge, they trialled it with an F 111 as that was the heaviest USAFE machine with a tailhook at the time.

Aside from airshows, that was the only time 'Varks landed at Woodbridge/Bentwaters

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In the early days of 23 squadron's deployment to the Falklands in 1982 after the war I think they used the RHAG system for every landing on the temporary runway; it helped that the Phantom was designed to land on carriers and therefore the structure was strong enough to cope. I suspect most of the land designed fighter would only se the hook as a last resort in an emergency - maybe not a single use item but probably not to be used in every landing.

 

I was at Waddington when the Phantoms were deployed there as Coningsby was having a new runway. A 56 squadron a/c popped the chute about 10 feet up - good job the Toom was designed to slam down on a carrier deck!

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Due to the number of excellent responses I have received so far I am seriously contemplating building an F-4EJ landing with the parachute deployed. After studying a number of you tude videos I am unsure if the airbrakes were used when landing. Below is a link to a couple of the many you tube videos which show Japanese Phantoms. So my question is were air brakes used on the Phantom when landing or were they used but just not visible in these videos?

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Billy54 said:

 

Thank you! I shall be ordering one of them later today.

If you search my 1/32 F-4J build that's the parachute from those guys.

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Speedbrakes on landing?  I sat in the back so didn’t actually land the jet, so I couldn’t tell you with 100% confidence, but I’m 99.8% sure they were closed and not used. Whenever I flew the approach I didn’t use them. Minor pitch and throttle adjustments were all that were needed once established on final. 
I have seen F-15s and F-16s use the speedbrakes on landing. Maybe that’s what you’re thinking of?  F-4 had the drag chute to slow us down. 
Off topic trivia…. I worked with an Air National Guard F-16 pilot and he took me out to see the jets and fly the simulator. He said the pilots would put a pencil mark on the lower speedbrakes to leave evidence that they did not scrape them on the runway when they landed with the speedbrakes open. At the nose up pitch attitude at landing, the lower speedbrakes could easily be damaged if you were just a bit too nose high. 

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I just skimmed through the F-4E flight manual that’s available on the F-4 Phantom Society’s web site and there’s no mention of using the speed brakes in the section on normal landing procedures.

 

Ben

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