Although the F-4 Phantom II was the most important fighter-bomber to see action with all three American services during the Vietnam War, it was essentially a US Navy design, and the carrier-borne squadron crews were its main operators in combat.
The aircraft pioneered the use of long-range, radar-guided missiles in combat, although the majority of its Vietnam missions involved ground-attack with a variety of innovative ordnance. From 1968 to 1973 the Phantom II was the standard US Navy fighter in Southeast Asia, having replaced several other types. Its performance and versatility enabled it to perform a variety of different missions, and switch roles as necessary, in the assault on some of the world's most heavily defended territory.
Including detailed color profiles and first-person commentary from active participants in the F-4's naval combat history, this is a detailed study of the US armed services' most famous post-war fighter.
Read an extract of US Navy F-4 Phantom II Units of the Vietnam War 1969-73
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Recap This chapter will very briefly recap on the combat introduction of the Phantom II by the first US Navy squadrons to be involved in the South East Asia conflict in 1964-65 Chapter 2 Bombing Halt Operations US Navy Seventh Fleet operations off Vietnam continued during the 1968 'bombing halt', after which President Nixon began his policy of 'Vietnamization' Chapter 3 Increasing Action 'Protective reaction' strikes continued into 1971 with attacks by F-4s on anti-aircraft artillery positions protecting the trails network in South Vietnam, extending into North Vietnam where the increasing defences prompted calls for more destructive US responses Chapter 4 Combat For All From the beginning of 1972 it was clear that a North Vietnamese advance into South Vietnam was likely. MiG activity increased and the US Navy flew almost 100 'protective reaction' strikes in the first quarter of the year against the massive North Vietnamese presence on the borders of the South. Six Phantom II squadrons were on station at the start of the year Chapter 5 Linebacker Two additional aircraft carriers were ordered to Yankee Station in mid-1972 for Linebacker, bringing four more Phantom II squadrons (including one US Marines Corps F-4J unit) to battle. Successes against VPAF MiGs continued throughout the rest of 1972 Appendices: - US Navy F-4 wartime squadron deployments, dates and carriers in 1969-73 - Plates Commentaries Index