F-4B 152318

The conflict in South East Asia put a lot of pressure on West Coast resources and Atlantic fleet squadrons were occasionally tasked to augment the effort. These efforts ultimately led to F-4B Bu.No.152318 being called upon for what turned out to be her only exposure to combat. The aircraft joined VF-14 at NAS Oceana in January 1966, from new production, taking up the AB-107 code / modex slot and deployed with CVW-1 / VF-14 on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) for her WESTPAC cruise, which lasted from Jun 21, 1966 to February 21, 1967. Official records indicate that, apart from the usual maintenance periods, she was operational for the whole cruise and contributed some 110 sorties / 180 flight hours to the squadron’s efforts. Remarkably, she appears to have suffered no battle damage (or at least none that was officially reported).

‘CAMELOT 107’ seen during a training flight from NAS Atsugi on October 13, 1966 in full ‘TOPHATTERS’ regalia during two weeks ashore while USS Franklin D. Roosevelt was in port at Yokosuka, Japan, for a much needed break from duty on the line. The aircraft was one of four squadron aircraft equipped with the Melpar AN/ALR-24 Radar Homing and Warning System, as evidenced by the fin tip fairings. This was an early, rushed development to aide in survivability against the SAM threat in North Vietnam, however, proved to be very unreliable and ineffective. (Unknown photographer via Richard Davies Collection)

A U.S. Navy Douglas A-4C Skyhawk from Attack Squadron VA-172 'BLUE BOLTS', seen returning to the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, after completing a strike over North Vietnam on August 20, 1966. Parked in the foreground are three F-4B Phantom from fighter squadrons VF-14 ’TOPHATTERS’ (Bu.No. 151018, 152318) and VF-32 ’SWORDSMEN’ (Bu.No. 152320), and an A-4E from VA-12 ‘FLYING UBANGIES’ (Bu.No. 150023). All aircraft were assigned to Attack Carrier Air Wing 1 (CVW-1) aboard USS Franklin D. Roosevelt for a deployment to South East Asia from June 21, 1966 February 21, 1967.

(Official USN photograph)