Pen & Sword's McDonnell/Douglas F-4 Phantom II

Author/Artists: Geoff Coughlin


Pen & Sword


$28.95 from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 96 pages, softcover, 11.5 x 8.5 inches, 200 illustrations. ISBN: 978-1-3990-8642-4

For many, the main US fighter of the Vietnam War was the F-4 Phantom II. It is with this aircraft that those who became aces were successful. It is also a plane that was operated by fairly large number of nations. It also was built by larger numbers than any other US post war fighter, and and aircraft used by the USN, USMC, and USAF as their premire fighter all at about the same time.

Designed as a fleet defense interceptor, it was felt that missiles were good enough to bring down its expected targets, which was Soviet bombers. Unfortunately, the F-4 was never used like that and it was found that an inordinate amount of skill and luck was needed to combat the foes it was up against during Vietnam. Gun pods proved to be less than useful and it wasn't until fairly late in the conflict that a Phantom was designed with an internal gun. Even then, the gun wasn't used that successfully as a later version of the Sidewinder missile proved to be a bit more effective.

The aircraft was also used for tactical reconnaissance as the speed of the RF-4 was such as to make catching it an extremely difficult task. Phantoms were built under license in Japan (F-4EJ) and in the UK (F-4K/M). The British F-4s were designed to use the British Spey turbofan, an engine of increased thrust over the J-79. However, the aircraft required larger intakes and this reduced its top speed. The F-4 is gone from most military services with only Turkey, Iran, and South Korea still operating the type.

This book is written by an author who is no stranger to many as he's written a lot in the past. In line with other books in this series, we are provided with the background and development of the aircraft along with a brief look at the various nations that have operated the type. Also part of this series is a modelers section. In this case it is fair extensive taking up half of the book. There are a variety of kits featured as well as a number of modelers. The vast majority of the builds are of 1/48 and 1/32 kits with only a lone 1/72 offering. These articles are mostly photos and not the more in depth articles that one is generally accustomed to seeing from other sources. However, I feel that their purpose is more to inspire and at that, they do their job well.

In all, it is a book well worth picking up. It reads well and has a lot of full color photos of the real deal, which is always nice.

July 2022

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Review book courtesy of  Casemate Publishers where you can order your copy at this link

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