The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II first flew 60 years ago. It became the mainstay of the US Air Force and Navy, and was exported to countries all over the world. It's still in front-line service in Greece, Turkey, Iran, South Korea and Japan. However, the last-named country is about to phase it out at last, after 50 years of service. An F-4 squadron will be converting to the F-35 later this year.
In preparation for the phase-out, aviation photographer Carl Wrightson and Rich Cooper, head of the Center of Aviation Photography, made a pilgrimage to Japan for a final photo shoot of the JASDF Phantoms. The Aviationist has a collection of some of their beautiful images, including this one (click it for a larger view).
The article accompanying the images is well worth your time, if you're an aviation enthusiast.
For fans of the F-4 Phantom, here's a twenty-minute video showing takeoffs and landings of some JASDF aircraft early this month, in mid-winter. There's some spectacular footage and sound, all in 4K, so watch it in full-screen mode and save a copy, if you can.
Great big roaring beasts, aren't they? I understand someone once said that the F-4 is proof that, given enough thrust, you can make even a brick fly! Despite their ungainly appearance, the Phantoms have built up an enviable combat record over the decades they've been in service, and can still draw a crowd of enthusiastic admirers whenever one shows up. They've earned their stripes the hard way.