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RAF

T hatt heMcDonnel lDougl asF 4Phant om i sanavi at i oncl as s i ci ss ur el y beyond ques t i on.I n manywaysi twast he or i gi nalmul t i r ol e combat ai r cr af tandf oral mos tt hi r t yyear st hePhant om wast hebackboneoft he RoyalAi rF or ce’ sai rdef encecapabi l i t y;aper i odwhi chs aw ust hr ough t hedar kand t hr eat eni ngdaysoft heCol d War .Davi dGl edhi l lwasan F 4 navi gat oratt hi st i me and hasr ecent l ypubl i s hed a bookon t he s ubj ect ,s o,t ol ear nmor eaboutl i f ewi t ht hePhant om,Gar et hSt r i nger wentt omeethi m.


AFPhant om: ACol dWarNavi gat or ’ sS t or y

T he avi at i on wor l di sact ual l ya r el at i vel ys mal l one –es peci al l ywhenyous pend anyamount oft i meatRoyal Ai rF or cebas es-andt odayhas hi ghl i ght ed t hatf actbeaut i f ul l y.If i nd mys el f s i t t i ng i nt he cr ew r oom att he Bat t l e ofBr i t ai n Memor i alF l i ght ,atRAFConi ngs by,wi t h Dave Gl edhi l l ,havi ngcover edapr es seventear l i eri n t hedayandar r angedt omeethi m her e,t hanks t ot hehos pi t al i t yoft heBBMF .

Notonl y wasDave bas ed atConi ngs by f or manyyear s ,ont heF 4Phant om andT or nadoF 2 /F 3,buthe’ sal r eady,wi t hi nmi nut esofar r i vi ng, mett woort hr eepeopl eheknowsf r om hi spas t l i f e,s uchast heBBMF ’ sS qnL drRus sRus s el land F l tL tAnt ony Par ki ns on,bot hf or merF 4 and T or nado men t hems el ves .Dave even gota T yphoont r i pbef or eher et i r ed,andt hes oundof t hem comi ng and goi ng out s i de punct uat es

Mai ni mage-XV426car r yi ngadr i l l weaponl oad ( DaveGl edhi l l )


what wi l lt ur ni nt o a l engt hy - and t ot al l y f as ci nat i ng-i nt er vi ew,aboutanai r cr af twhi chi s al mos tuni ver s al l yadmi r edt ot hi sday.

Col dWarWar r i or I ’ m noti nt endi ng t ot el lt he F 4Phant om’ sl i f e s t or y her e -t hathasbeen done many t i mes bef or e -butr at hert r y,t hanks t o Davi d,t o conveyaf eel f orwhati twasl i ket ooper at et he ai r cr af tdur i ngt heCol dWar ,as i gni f i cantper i od i nt he RAF ’ s95year sofhi s t or y,and i ndeed f or wor l dhi s t or yi t s el f . “Col dWarl i f er evol vedar oundex er ci s es , ”Dave t el l s me,“T hey woul dr amp up i nt er ms of i nt ens i t y and t he f i nalday was ,i nevi t abl y,a s i mul at ed nucl ear at t ack. T hat f ocus s ed ever yone’ s mi nds ;i t was al lver y vi vi d.T he gener al bel i efwast hatt hatwashow Wor l dWar T hr ee,i fi thappened,woul d concl ude.We al l knew t hati twoul dbeahugechal l engeandt he t hr eatf el tver yr eal . “WhenIwasbas ed i nGer manyweus ed t of l y bor derpat r ol s-wewer eonl yabout20mi nut es f l yi ngt i meaway-andononedayweheaded t owar dsHambur g.Ourf i r s tr unwasf i ne,but ,as we came backdownt he ot herway,ourRWR ( Radar War ni ng Recei ver )s t ar t i ng gi vi ng us i ndi cat i ons ,andi tl ookedt omel i kei twasf r om a Mi Gf i ght er . “Att he s ame t i me,ourT ACAN ( T act i calAi r Navi gat i ons ys t em)s t ar t edpoi nt i ngt owar dst he eas t-asi ft odi r ectust hatway-andl oudr ock mus i ccamebl ar i ngovert her adi o,bl ocki ngour cont r ol l er ’ scal l sf orust ot ur n away f r om t he bor der .I twasal la coor di nat ed at t emptt ot r y and make uspenet r at eS ovi etai r s pace and caus eadi pl omat i ci nci dent . “F or t unat el yi twasa l ovel ycl eardayand we coul dt hes eet hebor der ,s ower eabl et os t ay on t he cor r ects i de,butt hatwas a pr et t y det er mi ned ef f or tt o make uscr os sover-and t hr eat sl i ket hatwer ever y,ver yr eal . ”

S o,t hatput si tal li nt ocont ex t ,t hen,es peci al l y f oranyr eader st oo young t or emembert hos e days ,orper hapsf ort hos e who f eelt hatt he Col d Warwass omewhatphoney.I twas n’ t– and t he RoyalAi rF or ce’ sF 4Phant omswoul d have been att he cut t i ng edge ofanyact i on t hatt ookpl ace. Dave’ sf i r s tencount erwi t ht he j etcame when he wasf r es hf r om RoyalAi rF or ce navi gat or t r ai ni ng. “Ihad want ed t of l y Ni mr ods ,buthad been ‘ per s uaded’t hatf as tj et swast hewayf or war d and, wel l , one chap on my cour s e got Buccaneer ,I gotPhant om,andal l t her es twent t oheavi es ,s oIwasact ual l yver yl ucky!

No.228OCU “I s t ar t ed her e on t he OCU ( Oper at i onal Conver s i on Uni t )atConi ngs by,i n 1975,j us tas t hePhant om wasf or mi ngupi nt heai rdef ence r ol e.Icoul dn’ twai tt ogether e,andonmyf i r s t day Ir ememberIwasi nt he Of f i cer s ’Mes s , l ooki ngoutoft hewi ndows ,andt hi sbi gol ’br ut e t ax i ed pas tand It hought ,‘ T hi si si t ;t hat ’ swhat I ’ m her ef or ! ’T hatf i r s ti mpr es s i onneverl ef tme. T hes quat ,ugl i nes soft heai r cr af tgotme,andI wasr eal l yl ooki ngf or war dt oget t i ngs t ar t ed. ” However ,t he l eap f r om J etPr ovos t ,aspar tof Dave’ st r ai ni ng,t oF 4,wasacons i der abl eone, ashewasaboutt of i ndout . “T hel ear ni ngcur vewasi ncr edi bl ys t eepand,i n act ualf act ,t her ewasver yl i t t l epr epar at i onf or ai rdef encewor k,andal l I hadr eal l ydonei nt he J Pwasl ow l evel ,wi t hamapandas t opwat ch! T het r ai ni ngdi di mpr oveast i mewenton,butwe had r ecei ved no avi oni cst r ai ni ng,norr adar t r ai ni ngpr i ort ot heOCU. ”

Ri ght-A ver y young Dave Gl edhi l lj oi ns 56 ( F i ght er )S quadr ondur i ngt heS quadr onbui l dup atRAFConi ngs by ( vi aDaveGl edhi l l )


XT 907,at wi ns t i ckt r ai nervar i antoft heF GR2Phant om wear st he228OCU/ 64( Res er ve)S quadr on col our s( L i nds ayPeacock) T he cour s e commenced wi t h gr ound s chool , “endl es ss i mul at ort r i ps ” ,emer gency t r ai ni ng and t hen i nt ot he ai r cr af tf ort he Bas i c Radar Phas e,whi chl as t ed about15hour sand whi ch was f ol l owed by a ‘ br eak’ f or ai r combat t r ai ni ng. “Ever yt hi ng changed att hi spoi nt !I tal lwent f r om bei ng qui t e beni gn t o bei ng t ot al l y t hr eedi mens i onaland you had t o under s t and how t o cal lt he f i ght ,how t or eactand,al s o, whatyourcapabi l i t i eswer ecompar edwi t ht he ai r cr af tyouwer ef i ght i ng.Ont hecour s ei twas nor mal l yanot herPhant om;f orr eal i tmi ghtbea Mi G21 and you had t o under s t and why t hat wasdi f f er entandwhatt her i s kswer e. ” “T hatl as t edf ors i xs or t i es ,ors o,andt hecour s e f i ni s hedwi t ht heAdvancedRadarPhas e,whi ch cover ed hi gh f l yi ng t ar get s ,s uper s oni ct ar get s andal i t t l ebi tofl ow l evel .T hatwasi t ;i tal l l as t ed f orat ot al of30or40hour sandyouwer eof ft oa s quadr on! ” Aswel lasa s t eep l ear ni ng cur ve,Dave al s o f ound t hati twasa bi g phys i calj ump t ot he F 4. . . .

“I tr eal l ywas ,mai nl yduet ot heki twehadt o wear .I nt heJ Pwedi dn’ tevenweara gs ui t , andnow wehadt ogetus edt ot hatandt he i mmer s i ons ui tandal i f ej acket .I twasheavy, hotand ver yr es t r i ct i ve –ass omeone once s ai d:you wer et r us s ed up l i ke a Chr i s t mas t ur key. “T he ai rcondi t i oni ng i nt he Phant om was awf ul ,andt her ewer en’ tevenanycont r ol sf or i ti nt he back,s o‘ Bi ggl es ’up f r onthad t o adj us tal l t het emper at ur esand,i nvar i abl y,i fi t wasr i ghtf orhi m,i twaswr ongi nt heback! “T he l i ne [ cur vat ur e] of t he canopy al s o cr eat ed a f al s e hor i z on whi ch t ook s ome get t i ngus edt o.Whenyouwer ef l yi ngs t r ai ght andl evel i tf el tasi fyouwer ecl i mbi ngs oyour body’ si nt er nalgyr os wer e nevercor r ect l y al i gned.Yyouhad t o accl i mat i s et ot he f act t hatyouwer en’ ti ncont r oloft heai r cr af tand youal s o had ver yl i mi t ed f or war d vi s i on.T he r es ul t-al otofnavi gat or swer eai r s i ckandt he wor ki ng envi r onment was n’ t gr eat ,t o be hones t . ”


No.56Squadr on“ T heF i r ebi r ds ” Dave’ sf i r s tpos t i ngwast oNo.56S quadr on,t he F i r ebi r ds ,whi chhad act ual l ys t ood up wi t ht he Phant om atConi ngs by,bef or emovi ngdownt o RAFWat t i s ham i nS uf f ol k,wi t h Dave f ol l owi ng cl os el ybehi nd,j us tacoupl eofdaysl at er . “UKAi rDef ence,t hatwaswhati twasal labout atWat t i s ham,andwehadar eal l ygoodmi xof peopl ewi t hal otofguyst r ans f er r i ngacr os sf r om gr ound at t ack,a f ew f r om t he L i ght ni ng and t hen a number ,l i ke me,s t r ai ghtt hr ough f r om t r ai ni ng. “T hewhol es quadr onwass t i l lonabi gl ear ni ng cur veatt hi spoi nt–l ear ni ngwhatt hePhant om coul d do,and al s ot he f undament al sofai r def ence.Al otoft hegr oundat t ackchapswer e us i ngqui t ebas i ct act i cs ,whi l et heai rdef ender s whohaddonei tbef or ewer eadapt i ngt os ome of t he mor e advanced pr of i l es t hat t he Phant om wascapabl eof . ”

J oi ni ng a ‘ new’ s quadr on was cer t ai nl y ex ci t i ng f orDave,but i t was n’ t al lgood news … “Becaus ei twasnew,t her e wasver yl i t t l e r ot at i onofper s onnel .Wher easpeopl ewoul d nor mal l ybecomi ngandgoi ngonas quadr on ever ymont h,t hatdoes n’ thappenwheni t ’ s al lnew,s o Iended up bei ng t he J uni or Navi gat orf orabout18mont hs !T hatwasno f unatal l–Ir ant he s quadr oncof f ee barf or t hatwhol eper i od,al ongwi t ht heJ uni orPi l ot ! ” F undament al l yt hough,Davewass t r ai ghtout oft r ai ni ngandf oundhi ms el font hef r ont l i ne, def endi ngt heUKf r om pot ent i al i nvader s ,and t hatwas n’ tabaddeal atal l . “I twasbr i l l i ant !Ont hewhol eIwoul ds ayt hat I wasl i vi ngt hedr eam andi twascer t ai nl yver y di f f er entf r om bei ng ats choolwhi ch,att hat t i me,hadn’ tbeent oomanyyear sbef or e! ”

XV437f l i esoveras now cover edNor f ol k( DaveGl edhi l l )


S o,l at e 1970s ,t hen,and wi t ht he F 4 oper at i ng ex cl us i vel y asan ai r def enderf ort heRoyal Ai rF or ce–how goodwasi t ? “I twasver ygood,no ques t i on.Att hatt i me i twasEur ope’ sonl yPul s e Doppl err adar equi pped f i ght erwi t ha t r ue headup capabi l i t yatl ow l evel .T heAmer i canswer eus i ngt hePhant om i nEur ope,butt heywer eE model sandonl yPul s eequi pped,s ot hatcapabi l i t ywasonl yavai l abl eat medi um l evel .Not hi ng r eal l y changed t o af f ectt he RAF Phant om’ s pos i t i onunt i l t hei nt r oduct i onoft heF 15AEagl e. “I t ’ si r oni cI s uppos e,t hatt hes ocal l edMRCA( Mul t i Rol eCombatAi r cr af t ) wasbei ngdevel opedatt hatt i me,whi chwoul devent ual l ybecomet he T or nado,butanMRCA i sex act l ywhatt hePhant om was .T heRAFus edi t asf i ght er ,bomberand r econnai s s ance ai r cr af t ,and i tdi di tal lt hos e t hi ngsver ywel l ,s omuchs ot hatyoucoul dar guet hatt heJ aguar ,whi ch pi ckedupont hel as tt wooft hos er ol es ,wasact ual l yas t epbackwar ds . ”

Above -56( F )S q XV500 i s pus hed har dened ai r cr af Wi l denr at hdur i ng L eap ( DaveGl edh

Ri ght-A 56( F )S q t ax i es back af t er Wat t i s ham ( L i nds a

L ef t - XV437 i n coas t s out at ( DaveGl edhi l l )

T opl ef t-XV437atv a s now co ( DaveGl edhi l l )


S quadr on Phant om ed back i nt o a af ts hel t er at RAF gEx er ci s ePhant om dhi l l )

S quadr on Phant om erl andi ng at RAF s ayPeacock)

i n f ul l af t er bur ner Bl akeney Poi nt

tver yl ow l evel over over ed Nor f ol k


XV469i saccept edf orQui ckReact i onAl er taf t erbei ngl oaded

T he Phant om was capabl e t hen, yes , but r el i abl e?Nots omuch! “T heavi oni cswer epower f ul ,butt heywer et he ol d,t r ans i s t ort ypet echnol ogy,and t heybr oke r egul ar l y.You woul d qui t e of t en getai r bor ne and t her adarwoul d go down,of t enduet oa t r ans mi t t erpr obl em.S omuchpowerwasgoi ng outoft he f r ontend t hatt he ol d el ect r oni cs s i mpl ycoul dn’ tcope.I nar ound1980ar el i abi l i t y pr ogr ammewasbr oughti nand s omeoft hos e ol derpi ecesofequi pmentwer e upgr aded,s o t hi ngsi mpr oved.

anal ys e and r es pond t o war ni ngs as t hey happened.I fa hos t i l ef i ght erl ocked on,now you knew and you coul dr eact .T hen mor e def ens i veai dsappear edwi t hachaf fandf l ar e s ys t em and al s o a vi s ualacqui s i t i on s ys t em whi chwasl i kear i f l es i ghts t i cki ngoutoft hel ef t hand s i de oft he cockpi t . Wi t ht hatyoucoul d i dent i f yapot ent i al l yhos t i l et ar getbeyondvi s ual r angeandengagewi t haS par r ow mi s s i l e. ”

Cr ew cooper at i onwasvi t alt ot he Phant om’ s s ucces s ,ofcour s e,andDaveex pl ai nst hatwhi l e t hatwasmos tdef i ni t el yt he cas e,t he r ol e of each cr ewman was act ual l y qui t e cl ear l y “We al s o added var i ouspi ecesofki tovert he del i neat ed –wi t ht he navi gat orr es pons i bl ef or year s whi ch, whi l e addi ng capabi l i t y, al s o f i ndi ng t he t ar geton t he r adar ,s et t i ng up t he added t ot hewor kl oad i nt heback.T hef i r s tof i nt er cept ,gi vi ng t he commandst o geti nt oa t hes e wast he RWR ( RadarWar ni ng Recei ver ) , f i r i ngpos i t i onandl ockedup,wi t ht hepi l oti nt he whi chf edaudi oi nt ot heheads ets oyoucoul d f r ontt aki ngt hes hot .I ncl os ecombat ,t hepi l ot


edwi t hweapons .Unus ual l y,t hehooki sdown.T heS par r ow l oadi ngt r ol l eys i t sbehi nd ( L i nds ayPeacock)

was ver y much i n cont r oloft he f i ghtand weapons ,unl es shel os ts i ghtoft het ar getand neededhi snavt ohel phi mf i ndi tagai n!

“Pr es umabl yyoual s os atonQRA i nt heUKand gott he chance t oi nt er ceptmar audi ng T u95 Bear sands uchl i ke?”Ias k.

“I fyou had a new pi l oti nt he f r onthe woul d us ual l yj us tl etyougetonwi t hi tand do what youneeded t o do,ashe wasl ear ni ng aswel l and di dn’ tknow any bet t er !T he ex L i ght ni ng pi l ot shadt ogetus edt ot al ki ngt ousandwer e per hapsa l i t t l e mor er es i s t antt o havi ng t he r adarcont r ol l edf r om t heback,whi l et hef or mer mudmover swer e,i nt he mai n,okay t o wor k wi t ht oo,butt her e wasdef i ni t el ya di f f er ence bet weent het hr ee!

I t ’ saques t i onwhi chi smetwi t hl aught er ,bef or e Ihaveevenf i ni s hedas ki ngi t …. .

“I ngener al ,t he bet t eryouwor ked asa cr ew, t hel es syout al ked,asyoubot hknew whatt odo andwhent odoi t . ”

“Is at on S out her n QRA f or t hr ee year s at Wat t i s ham andbel i eveme;I t r i edever yt act i c– ex t r a Q,no Q,comi ng onQ atdi f f er entt i mes , vol unt eer i ng f orQ i fs omeone needed t o go anddos omet hi ngel s e…. . “Igotone l i ve l aunch –we l aunched i nt ot he I cel and/F ar oesGap,f l ew f ors evenhour sand wegotaNi mr odwhi chnooneknew wast her e! T her e wasa Beart her es omewher e butwe neverf oundi t ,andt hatNi mr odwasoneoft he har des ti nt er cept sIeverper f or med!


Above -A 56( F ) Phant om i n f or mat i on” f r amed t hes et t i ngs un.

Ri ght-XV468i sl oa ai r t oai r mi s s i l es oper at i onal t r ai ni ng f ort he ar mour er s .

“Idi d f i nal l y get a Rus s i an when we l aunched f r om Cypr us and i nt er cept ed t wo I l yus hi nI L 38Mayai r cr af t ,butneverf r om hol di ng Q at Wat t i s ham.T hei r onyi st hatmycl os es tencount erwi t haBearcamewhen It ookaT or nadot ot heAi rT at t ooatRAFF ai r f or dandt her ewasaBearon t her amp,l i kesus ,aspar toft hes t at i cdi s pl ay!I bl aggedmywayont ot he f l i ghtdeckandf i nal l ygotupcl os eandper s onal wi t haBear ! ”

L ef t-XV426 car r y weaponsl oad pu t hever t i cal .

Al l i mages t hi s DaveGl edhi l l


)S quadr on “bat t l e ed agai ns t

oaded wi t h es dur i ng t ur nr ound s quadr on

r yi ng a dr i l l ul l sup i nt o

i s s pr ead


Pr edat i ngDave’ st i meont heS quad RAF F i nni ngl ey i n 1977.I ti ss t i l lt o ( L i nds ayPeacock)

No.92( Eas tI ndi a)Squadr on Att he end ofhi st ourwi t h56S quadr on,and wi t h 850hour sunderhi sbel t( near l yhal fofhi sf i nal 2, 000 hour sF 4t ot al )andas ens et hathehadgott heUK j obpr et t ywel ls quar edaway,Dave’ snex tpos t i ng woul d s ee hi m ex per i ence s omet hi ng “al mos t t ot al l ydi f f er ent ”–92( Eas tI ndi a)S quadr onatRAF Wi l denr at hi nGer many,t heCobr as . “I n Col d Wart er ms ,i twasal lver yr eal ,no doubt abouti t ,andver ydi f f er entf r om s quadr onl i f eover her e.T heUKbas ess t i l l f el tal i t t l ebi t‘ S econdWor l d War ’wi t hcr ewsl oungi ng ont he gr as s ,wai t i ng t o s cr ambl e,t hatki ndoft hi ng. “Near l yever yt hi ng wedi di nGer manywasatl ow l evel ,and t heonl yt i mewer eal l yf l ew atmedi um l evelwas atni ght .We f l ew i ns ome at r oci ous condi t i ons ,whi ch we us ed t o cal lBr i tVF R,aswe woul dbes t umbl i ngar oundi nt henor t her nGer man mur k wi t h ver yl i t t l e vi s i bi l i t y,and t he onl y ot her peopl e doi ng t he s ame wer e Br i t sf r om RAF Br üggenandRAFL aar br uch. “Butyouhad t odoi t ,ast heywer et hepr evai l i ng weat hercondi t i onsand i fyou di dn’ tf l yi nt hos e condi t i ons ,t henyouwoul dneverf l yatal l ! ” As t andar ds or t i e,oper at i ng under2 AT AF S OPs ( S econd Al l i ed T act i cal Ai r F or ce S t andar d Oper at i ng Pr ocedur es )woul ds ee an F 4 depar t Wi l denr at h,t r ans i tat500’t o one oft he l ow f l yi ng ar easandt hen,at250’ ,s etupaCAP( CombatAi r Pat r ol ) .T heS econd Al l i ed T act i calAi rF or cewasa NAT O mi l i t ar yf or mat i on,undert hecont r ol ofAl l i ed Ai rF or cesCent r alEur ope and wast as ked wi t h pr ovi di ng ai rs uppor tt o NAT O' s Nor t her n Ar my Gr oup. “Once we wer e s et up, anyt hi ng t hat came t hr ough t hatar ea wases s ent i al l yf ai rgame,and we woul di nt er ceptany t act i calai r cr af t .Asyou engaged,i ft hey waggl ed t hei rwi ngsi twoul d meant hatt heycoul dn’ tort heywer en’ tal l owedt o ‘ pl ay’ .I fnot ,t heywoul dt ur ni nt oyou,andt hef i ght wason!

XV481i ss eeni nt heai rdef encegr eyco andi sador nedwi t ht hel at er92S quadr o


adr on,t hi s92( Eas tI ndi a)S quadr onj etcar r i esadr i l l weaponl oad( nol i vel oadal l owedatanai r s how)at t or ecei ve t he r adarwar ni ng r ecei vermodi f i cat i on and wear st he ol d gr ey gr een camouf l age

col ours chemeatRAFWat t i s ham i n1989.Unl i ket hei mageabove,t her adarwar ni ngr ecei veri spr es ent r onr edandyel l ow chequerboar ds( L i nds ayPeacock)


XV439/ Xof92S quadr ont ax i esi natNel l i sAF B,NV,af t eraRedF l agmi s s i oni n1989.T her ef uel l i ngpr ob ( L i nds ayPeacock)


obei sex t endedf orpos t f l i ghti ns pect i onbyt hegr oundcr ew

“I twasvi r t ual l yWor l dWarT hr ee onadai l ybas i sandwhenIgot t her e,bef or et headventoft he F 16and F 15,i twasa r ealmi x of t ypes as wel l , wi t h F 104 S t ar f i ght er s ,F i at G91s and ot her F 4 Phant oms - cl as s i c Col dWarai r cr af tr eal l y. “I nt er msofr eal adver s ar i es ,t he Mi G23 was t he ai r cr af t we ex pect edt os eemos tof ,i fi tal l ki cked of ff orr eal .T he Mi G21 di dn’ tr eal l yhavet hel egs ,but t he F l ogger di d. T he Mi G25 F ox bat mi ght have been an i s s ue,atal t i t ude,butwef el twe coul d dealwi t ht hat ,al t hough i twoul d have been a t r i cky s hot .L at er ,we knew t hatt he l i kesofMi G29and S u27wer e ex t r emel y capabl e and pr obabl y had a bet t er capabi l i t yt hanourown. “Att hi st i me,t hough,t he F 4 Phant om wast he ki ng oft he s ki es and t hat per s i s t ed, cer t ai nl yi nt er msofl ow l evel per f or mance,f orevent he f i r s t coupl e ofyear saf t ert he F 15 ar r i ved.When t he Eagl esand F 16sent er ed s er vi ce i tr eal l y di d f eel l i ke t hi ngs wer e changi ng,buti twasgr adual , not i mmedi at e. Our bi gges t chal l enge was l ack of i dent i f i cat i on equi pment ,and unl es s you wer e under GCI cont r ol ( Gr ound Cont r ol l ed I nt er cept )youwer en’ tal l owed t of i r eaS par r ow mi s s i l ef r om beyondvi s ual r ange. “T hatmeantyou had t o get cl os eenought ovi s ual l yi dent i f y t het ar getandbyt hatt i meyou wer et oo cl os ef ora S par r ow s hotand woul di nvar i abl y be s ucked i nt oat ur ni ng f i ght , whi ch wasnott he Phant om’ s s t r engt h. ”


Above -XV426ab t he ci r cui tovert he hangar( t opl ef t )a ( Not e:T hegr eyai r t hepr ot ot ype“Gr e

T op r i ght-A f ul l y out s i de t he RAF S hed� .T he ai r cr a car r yi ng a cent r e oper at i onsi nt ot h Gap.

Ri ght-XV495 on Al er tatRAFWat t i s l i f ej acket sar epos i t oft hes t epsr eady

Al l i magest hi ss pr e XV426car r yi ngadr i l l weaponl oad.


boutt o br eaki nt o t he 56( F )S quadr on atRAFWat t i s ham. i r cr af tont heAS Pi s r eyGhos t ”XV474)

l yar med XV490s i t s F Wat t i s ham “Q r af ti si n “Del t a” f i t r el i ne f uelt ank f or t he I cel and F ar oes

n Qui ck React i on t t i s ham.T heai r cr ew s i t i onedatt hebas e yf oras cr ambl e.

r eadDaveGl edhi l l

RAFGer manyal s ohel dai r cr af tatr eadi nes sf ori mmedi at el aunch,j us tas i nt heUKwi t hQRA( Qui ckReact i onAl er t ) ,butcal l edBat t l eF l i ght . T her ewer et woai r cr af ti nt wohar denedai r cr af ts hel t er s ,onef r om each s quadr on,19 and 92.T hey wer es i debys i de on t he 19 S quadr on di s per s aland bot hwer emanned 24hour saday,365daysayearand hadt obeai r bor ne,i fr equi r ed,wi t hi nf i vemi nut esoft hehoot ergoi ngof f .


“I twasmayhem and,qui t eof t en,t hef i r s tcr ew t o checki n woul d gett he l aunch,whi ch was i nt er es t i ng.Occas i onal l ywewoul dbel aunched f ort r ai ni ngpur pos esand,f r om t i met ot i me,you woul dbel aunchedf oranonot i ceBat t l eF l i ght f i r i ng t o Aber por t h Range,Wal es .Igotone of t hos eandt hef i r s tcl uewast hewes t er l yvect or wewer egi ven,asi twasnor mal l yal wayseas t , t owar dst hebor der . “Wecl i mbed t ohei ghtand headed f ort heUK wher ewewer ej oi nedbyanot herai r cr af twhi ch woul d actasphot ochas e,t hi swasus ual l ya UKbas ed F 4, and we headed s t r ai ght t o Aber por t ht of i r e a mi s s i l e agai ns ta J i ndi vi k ai r bor net ar get . ”

Apai rof92( Eas tI ndi a)S quadr onPhant omst ax y outpas tRDAFF 100S uperS abr esatS kr yds t r up dur i ngas quadr onex change ( DaveGl edhi l l )

XV424( ofAl cockandBr ownef ame)r ef uel sf r om aVC10t ankerovert heS out hAt l ant i c.T heai r cr af tw


By1983, whent hi spi ct ur ewast aken, i twasqui t e XV466f l i esovert he Ar ct i c Ci r cl e dur i ng an ai r r ar et os eeagr een/ gr eycamoj etwi t ht heRWR def ence ex er ci s e f r om Kef l avi k ai r bas e modi f i cat i on and RWR chequer boar ds s i nce ( DaveGl edhi l l ) mos t had al r eady been pai nt ed i nt he ai r def encegr ey ( PaulF i l mer )

wasr et ur ni ngt oUKf r om t heF al kl andI s l andsf ors er vi ci ng ( DaveGl edhi l l )


XV408i nt hecommemor at i ve“

Al lgood f unand ex cel l entt r ai ni ng,butwhati f t hebal l oonhadgoneup?Wast hats omet hi ng t hatt he cr ewsdar ed t hi nk about ? Di dt hey wonderhow t heyandt hei rai r cr af twoul dhave per f or med?

qui ckl y. It hi nk we woul d have f i r ed ever y avai l abl e mi s s i l e and t hen, what ever and whoeverwasl ef twoul d have r et ur ned t ot he UK,s owewer en’ tex pect i ngt ol as tver yl ong!

“As f or t he UK, t hat woul d have been “It hi nkt hatvar i ed,dependi ngonwhet heryou dependant on whet her t he conf l i ct went wer epos t edi nt heUKorGer many.F ort hel at t er , nucl ear ,buti fi thadn’ t ,t hen It hi nkwe woul d we ex pect ed t he S ovi etf or cest o mar ch ont o have s t ood f i r mf ormuchl onger ,ast he s et up t he Channelpor t si n about48 hour s ,s o Wes t wasqui t er obus tdur i ngt heCol dWar . ” Ger manywoul d have been r ol l ed overpr et t y


e“Bl ueDi amonds ”col ours chemet o“cel ebr at e”t hes quadr ondi s bandmenti n1992 ( L i nds ayPeacock)

T heEndoft heRoad

andr emai ns ,hugel ychar i s mat i c,t hough.I twas af ant as t i cai r cr af tt obei nvol vedwi t handi t ’ sa g r e a t s h a me t h a t t h e r e a r e n ’ t mo r e p r e s e r v e d i n Asf ort hePhant om,s hewasr et i r ed f r om Royal he UK – whi ch i swhy we ar e now t r yi ng t o Ai rF or ces er vi cei n1992,and,des pi t ei tbei nga t ur et hatXV582‘ Bl ackMi ke’ ,cur r ent l yatRAF hugel os si nt er msoft hes i ghtands oundofwhat ens L e u c h a r s , i s mo v e d t o B r u n t i n g t h o r p e and i sabonaf i deavi at i oncl as s i c,Davef eel si twas s aved. t her i ghtdeci s i on,oper at i onal l y. “It hi nkt heai r cr af thadhadi t sdaybyt henand had been s uper s eded.T he F 4 Phant om was ,


XV486f l i esove


Checkoutht t p: / / www. br i t i s hphant omavi at i ongr oup. co. uk/f ormor ei nf or mat i onont hi s ,and ot her , pr es er vat i onef f or t s . “Asf orme,If eelhonour edt ohavebeeni nvol vedwi t ht heai r cr af tandwi l lneverf or getmyt i meon t he Phant om.I tmi ghthave been hotand uncomf or t abl e,butt he memor i esar e near l yal lgood ones . ” Gar et hSt r i ngerwoul dl i ke t ot hankDave Gl edhi l lf orhi st i me.Hi sexcel l entbook,‘ T he Phant om i n F ocus :ANavi gat or ' sEyeonBr i t ai n' sCol dWarWar r i or ’andhi sf i r s tnovel ,‘ Def ect or ’ ,canbepur chas ed bycl i cki ngont hecoveri magest ot hel ef t .Hi snewes twor k,‘ F i ght er sOvert heF al kl ands :Def endi ng t heI s l ander s ' WayofL i f e’ ,wi l lbepubl i s hedon1November .

veraNor wegi anf j or dwhi l s toper at i ngf r om S t avanger/ S ol adur i ngEx er ci s eWhi s keyT r ol l( DaveGl edhi l l )


A RAF Phantom Navigator's Story  

Republished for the 'Best of Global Aviation Magazine' series.

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