SPLASH ONE!


Hasegawa 1/72  F-4B/N Phantom II 

 

 
The Kill:  On May 6, 1972 LCDR Jerry “Devil” Houston and LT Kevin Moore flying an F-4B, BuNo 150456, of VF-51 engaged and shot down a MiG-17 trying to shoot down an A-6 striking the Bai Thuong Airfield.  Houston positioned himself behind the MiG as it maneuvered into firing position on the A-6.  Houston could not shoot as long the A-6 was out in front. He could not be sure who the Sidewinder was looking at! The CAG of CVW-15, CDR Rodger “Blinky” Sheets, piloted the Intruder this MiG decided to pick on.  CAG was a fighter pilot by trade and knew the MiG-17 had no hydraulic assisted flight controls.  At the transonic speed of the A-6, the MiG driver could not pull the control stick hard enough to maneuver the MiG! (3. p 59) “Having reached minimum Sidewinder launch range, Houston squeezed the trigger from 'dead six o'clock', about 3000 feet behind the MiG. [Devil Houston recounts]  'The AIM-9G came off and went straight down, then straight up! And as we flew through the hump-backed smoke trail of the Sidewinder, it straightened out and headed for the MiG. CAG Sheets saw the missile come off the rail and broke, having played the role of ultimate decoy to the end! The MiG couldn't break, and the Sidewinder flew up his tailpipe, blowing his tail off. We were so low that the explosion of the missile was followed immediately -just bam! bam! -by the explosion the MiG made as it impacted the Karst ridge'.  From after action reports, it appears that the MiG pilot had given such complete attention to shooting down the A-6A that he was never aware of Houston's presence.” (4. p18)
 

 

The Airplane:  When VF-51 deployed to Vietnam in 1972, their airplanes carried the famous Supersonic Eagle scheme. “Houston and Moore were flying VF-51's CAG jet when they claimed their MiG, this aircraft boasting a multi-colored rendition of the unit's famous 'Screaming Eagle' motif. Dubbed the 'supersonic can opener' by rival fighter crews, this scheme was possibly the most flamboyant worn by any F-4 unit. Jerry Houston remembers, ‘This scheme came about following a competition within VF-51 to design a squadron paint scheme. The Miramar wags said all the design lacked were mud flaps and a long raccoon tail on some aerial!'” (4. p19) 

            VF-51 placed the MiG kill on the intake splinter plate of the aircraft that scored the kill with the callsign of the pilot that got the kill. (3 p 40)   Notice the callsigns were not of the aircrew that killed the MiG; it was the pilot. VF-51 had transitioned from F-8s to the F-4 for this deployment, and the pilots that made the transition did not think much of the “fighter crew” concept.   “The transition from the F-8 to the F-4 was not all plain sailing, as 'Devil' Houston remembers, 'We had been single-seat F-8 pilots, and as such we'd ridiculed all multi-crewed aircraft, especially the "Phantom phlyers". Now we were becoming some of, well ...them! Our hardcore philosophy going in was that there wasn't then, nor would there ever be, an NFO we'd rather have than an extra 500 Ibs of fuel and the 20 mm cannons we were sacrificing by leaving the F-8s. Word of how we felt soon got about at Miramar, and it was with a great deal of reluctance that F-4 pilots and NFOs accepted orders to VF-51' ” (4.p49) *  


 

 
 
The airframe decorated in the CAG colors was BuNo 150456 during the deployment. Sometime after, the F-4B BuNo 153009 was decorated as the CAG plane.  Which brings us to… 

The Model:  The decals in the kit and all the after market ones I am aware of reflect the 153009 airframe. Pictures of BuNo 150456 are hard to come by, so I used the drawing by Mark Wiki (5) as my principle decal reference.  The MiG kill on the intake plate with “Devil” above it is my speculation based on the way VF-51 decorated other MiG killers. I cannot imagine a plane scoring a kill and not sporting a kill tally.  But, I never found a picture or drawing depicting a kill marking.* Sometimes accuracy must give way to “cool”!  I used the decals in Super Scale International (SSI) 72-111 sheet instead of the kit decals. The SSI decals’ maroon was close to a perfect match of Testors Gloss Dark Red No.1104.  The kit decals had a very slightly brown hue compared to the Testors paint. Obviously, I wanted the painted trim to match the decals. There is nothing wrong with kit decals, they look just as good as the SuperScale sheet. My decision was based on what matched the paint I had on hand. Which sheet comes closest to real aircraft? I have no idea. Sorry!  The model is out of the box except for the detail added to ejection seats and decals. To capture the difference between BuNo 153008 and 150456,  I printed custom decals using MS PowerPoint for the text and printed them on clear decal paper using a laser printer. 
 
 
 
 
The MiG kill markings came from SSI 72-145.  I painted the model with Testors Model Master enamel paint and weathered it with pastel chalk and a hard lead pencil. I detailed the missiles with the decals from the Hasegawa Weapons Set III kit and Scale-Master decal sheet SM-39. 

 
 
I think I captured the “look” of this “Old Salt” warrior. 
 
FIGHT’S ON!!!

* After I posted this model on ARC,  Mr Houston sent me an e-mail (How cool is that!!) stating this CAG plane never carried a kill marking.  He, also, expressed regret at the published NFO comments  quoted in the book.  He stated during his F-4 combat tour he come to appreciate the value of the NFO & the wisdom of the "fighter crew concept".   You can bet I kept that e-mail!

Kits: Hasegawa 1/72 scale F-4B/N Phantom II  kit # 00151

         Hasegawa 1/72 weapons set III for the AIM-7s and AIM-9Ds

         (Note: The AIM-9D and AIM-9G are visually identical.)

Decals: SSI decal sheet 72-111 CAG & CAW Phantoms

              SSI decal sheet 72-145 USN MIG KILLERS

  SSI decal sheet 72-164 Phantom data

  Scale-Master 1/72 sheet SM-39:  US Missile Markings

 Custom decals printed using MS PowerPoint . 

 

Bibliography:   

1. Detail & Scale Vol. 12 F-4 Phantom II (part 3: USN & USMC versions) by Bert Kinzey, Aero Publications, Inc, California, USA, 1983.  

2. USN Phantoms in Combat by Lou Drendel, Squadron / Signal publications, Carrollton, Texas, USA, 1988.

3. …AND KILL MIGS Air-to-air Combat from Vietnam to Gulf War (3rd Edition) by Lou Drendel, Squadron / Signal publications, Carrollton, Texas, USA, 1997.  

4. US NAVY F-4 PHANTOM II MiG KILLERS, 1972-73 Osprey Combat Aircraft Vol 30 by Brad Elward & Peter Davies, Osprey Publishing Limited, Oxford, UK, 2002.  


 

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