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British Phantoms

British Phantoms Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2013 Title British Phantoms
Author Patrick Martin Publisher AirDOC
Published 2012 ISBN 978-3-935687-84-3
Format 160 pages, hardbound MSRP (Euro) €39.95 less 7% VAT for non-EU customers

Review

AirDOC just released a new title from their 'Double Ugly! Books' series providing a nice coverage of the Rolls-Royce-powered Phantoms in British service. This is the first of two volumes covering the British Phantoms with this first installment bringing the aircraft into service and operations through 1978. The second installment will pick up the story of the RAF Phantom story from 1978 through the type's retirement in 1992 and includes the introduction of the F-4J(UK) as a stopgap airframe after the Falklands War.

This title starts with the history of aircraft development for the Royal Navy and RAF leading to several cancelled programs and the selection of the F-4 airframe as the basis of common platform. Development started with replacement of the General Electric J79 engines with a pair of Rolls Royce Spey and the degree of re-engineering that McDonnell-Douglas completed to accommodate the new engine. The Spey was a more powerful afterburning turbofan engine compared to the turbojet design of the J79 which helped to compensate for the shorter deck length of the HMS Ark Royal and HMS Eagle.

From there, the Royal Navy's requirements led to the designator of F-4K while the RAF's requirements were compiled into the F-4M. Like the US Navy's F-4B/J, the F-4K would be catapult-launched from the HMS Ark Royal (the Royal Navy's last conventional aircraft carrier). Unlike the US Navy's catapults, the Ark's catapults had a shorter stroke which required the F-4K's nose gear to be extended and provide a distinctive nose-up attitude at the end of the catapult stroke. This was one of many distinctive differences that were engineered into the F-4K and F-4M before they were delivered into British service. The F-4K would become the Phantom FG.1 (Fighter-Ground Attack) while the F-4M would become the Phantom FGR.2 (Fighter-Ground Attack-Reconnaissance).

This title follows the aircraft as they enter service and their evolution through operational experience in the years that followed. The author follows the FG.1 aboard HMS Ark Royal as well as those FG.1s that had been allocated to HMS Eagle before that vessel's upgrades were cancelled and were subsequently transferred to the RAF. Likewise, the author provides a look at the RAF's FGR.2 in its NATO strike role before transitioning into Air Defence.

This title is well-illustrated with color and B&W photos of the aircraft in service with excellent examples of the different squadron markings and some special colors carried during this period of operations. Like the previous F-4 titles in this series, this coverage of the British Phantom is very well done and will be an outstanding reference to the aviation historian and modeler alike.

This title is available directly from AirDOC's website http://www.airdoc.eu/.

My sincere thanks to AirDOC for this review sample!

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