This article refers to the F-4 Phantom as it appears in "The Empire's Twilight" and not the real world.The Commonwealth Aircraft Corportaion Phantom is a twin engined, two seat multi role combat aircraft. The F-4 Phantom II was designed in the United States during the late 1950s and became the stalwart of the United States Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps during the 1960s and 1970s. It was so successful that it was widely exported and served as the basis for the Commonwealth variant built by the multi-national Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC).
Commonwealth PhantomsEditWhile land based fighter development within the Commonwealth steamed ahead without stopping for breath the carrier based fleet of aircraft seemed slow to catch up. Therefore the decision was made to acquire Phantoms as a stop-gap until the newer generation of Commonwealth naval fighters became available. License agreements were drawn up thanks largely to the brief warming of relations between the Commonwealth and the United States in the immediate aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Because of a law which states that all imported military equipment must have a degree of technology from Commonwealth sources the Commonwealth Phantoms were powered by Rolls-Royce Spey turbofans. These actually decreased overall performance while increasing range.
Phantom FG.1 (FG.51)Edit
Initial production variant the Mark 1 featured the Spey 201 engine, a folding nose radome to be able to operate off of some of the New Commonwealth's smaller carriers and a large number of avionics changes compared to the US version. A handful of aircraft were fitted with a telescopic sight taken from the viewfinder of a Chieftain tank to aid in visual identification but this was not an ideal premise. This was the most widely used variant. Royal Navy machines were designated FG.1 while Commonwealth examples received the standard 5X designation making them FG.51s.
A small number of FGR.2s were tested by the RAF but ultimately the organization lost interest in the aircraft preferring instead the Avro Arrow and BAC Eagle TSR.2 to meet its fighter and bomber needs. The FGR.2 differed only in that it was wired to carry a Vinten Reconnaissance pod. After evaluations were completed in 1969 the aircraft were turned over to the Royal Navy who distributed them to reconnaissance sections among their main squadrons. At least five FGR.2s served during the Falklands War.
Phantom FG.3 (FG.53)Edit
Even before the 1982 Falklands War broke out some of the shortcomings of the CAC Phantom were well known. Off its own initiative Wilkins Heavy Industries penned a comprehensive upgrade of the aircraft in the hope of attracting orders. The FG.3 featured the "Super Spey" turbofan engine that was a radical redesign eliminating many troublesome parts while increasing overall performance. Leading edge wing flaps dramatically improved low speed agility but had to be locked shut above 320 knots. The fuselage was reinforced to prolong the useful life of the airframes and the avionics were thoroughly upgraded. While only 12 served in the Falklands War increasing numbers appeared during the years of the Namibian Bush War and by the time of the '91 Disaster it was the New Commonwealth's primary naval fighter.
New Commonwealth OperatorsEditSupermarine Scimitar FAW.4.
Royal Navy Phantoms provided the shield to the task xforce sent to retake the Falkland Islands and this sometimes meant they had to mix it with Argentinean F-4E Phantom IIs operating from the Argentinean mainland. Superior weapons and tactics meant that Commonwealth Phantoms always came out on top although some were lost in close-in dogfights with the nimbler F-5 Tiger and Mirage III.Supermarine Scimitars.
Unfortunately the South African Phantom pilots were not yet qualified on the aircraft when HMSAS Princess Royal was sent to enforce a blockade against Togo in 1977 following a steady decrease in relations. The embargo ended the following year. They were however qualified by the time of the 1982 Falklands War with both squadrons deploying aboard South Africa's two carriers. With their distinctive two-tone grey schemes and Springbok roundels they were easily recognisable and developed a fearsome reputation in combat with Argentine and American Mercenary pilots.
Royal South African Air ForceEdit
The RSAAF was unwilling to commit itself to the expense of acquiring the Avro Arrow citing that it did not have to face advanced Soviet fighters but rather their "dumbed down" export versions. Therefore the RSAAF took the step of acquiring Phantoms to meet their air defence needs having been impressed by the aircraft in service with the Navy. The first RSAAF examples arrived in 1978 and were identical to their Navy counterparts.