JASDF F-4 Phantoms by David Draycott

This second instalment of In Focus features sadly, the soon to be lost sight of Japanese Air Self Defence Force F-4 EJ Phantom IIs, which have been in service for almost 50 years.  Originally there were eight Squadrons (or Hikotai), but since 1994 there have been just four: 8, 301, 306 and 501 (operating the RF-4E).

The following images give some indication of how the F-4s looked and operated in the latter years of their service life and remind us how they will be nothing more than a fond memory by the end of 2021.

David Draycott (580 call sign Diddy), a most talented modeller and globe trotting photographer, has very kindly provided the images and commentary.  More recently, Dave has been contributing to the fantastic series of Aircraft in Detail Books by Duke Hawkins, which are highly recommended as modelling references.

F4EJ Kai 47-8328, of 8 Hikotai "Panthers", on approach to Misawa AB in formation on December 3rd 2007. 47-8328 was painted in a trial camouflage scheme for evaluation on the Mitsubishi F-2 and obviously requiring some touch up. It was destined to return to its original grey scheme. Photo © D. Draycott.

F4EJ Kai 87-8414 of 302 Hikotai being prepped for demonstration at the Naha Air Show, Okinawa on December 9th 2007. 302 Hikotai moved North to Hyakuri AB the following year, switching roles with F15CJs. Photo © D. Draycott

RF4EJ Kai 47-6905 lifts off from Hyakuri AB on November 11th 2009. 501 Hikotai maintained their aircraft in pretty good condition so it was unusual to see one of their aircraft looking so tatty! Photo © D. Draycott

F4EJ Kai 47-8430 of 301 Hikotai participating in a Phantom “role demo” at the Nyutubaru Air Show on December 6th 2009. Photo © D. Draycott

F4EJ Kai 87-8413, taxiing out for departure at Hyakuri AB on November 11th 2009. Note the drill round of JASDF air to air missile (Mitsubishi AAM 3) which is similar in size and function to the AIM 9 Sidewinder. Photo © D. Draycott

F4EJ Kai of 301 Hikotai landing back at Nyutubaru AB after a thunderstorm on December 5th 2011. The aircraft is in standard air to air configuration of centreline tank and short range AAM 3 drill rounds. Photo © D. Draycott

F4EJ Kai 07-6433 of 501 Hikotai departs Hyakuri AB. Although these aircraft are dedicated to reconnaissance roles, they are converted from F4EJs and hence carry a centreline reconnaissance pod as they don’t feature the standard RF4EJ nose profile and cameras. Photo © D. Draycott

F4EJ Kai 37-8320 of 301 Hikotai taxiies out for a mission from Hyakuri. Note the gunnery trailing target under the starboard wing. Photo © D. Draycott

F4EJ Kai of 301 Hikotai, tail no 07-8434, taxiing onto the Nyutubaru ramp during the Nyutubaru Air Show on 6th December 2009. Photo © D. Draycott