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F-4B 153005

F-4B 153005 made her first flight at St. Louis on April 1, 1966, was accepted by the Navy on May 3 and assigned the next day to VF-121 at NAS Miramar, California. After a couple of months supporting the West Coast training program she moved across the Miramar ramp on July 13, 1966, to join VF-114. The Phantom was to stay with the ‘’Aardvarks’’ for the rest of her relatively short operational career, deploying on the 1966-67 and 1967-68 cruises on the KITTYHAWK (CV-63). Fate and the perils of combat caught up with the aircraft on December 27, 1967, when it was lost in action over North Vietnam. ‘LINFIELD 205’ disappeared without a trace whilst conducting a loft bombing run under a 1000 feet overcast during a weather and armed reconnaissance mission along the coast of North Vietnam near Cape Falaise, some 25 miles north of Vinh, North Vietnam. Both crew, LCDR Leonard Murray Lee, and LTJG Roger Burns Innes, joined the ranks of the missing.

NH-205, BuNo.153005 of VF-114 seen on the KITTYHAWK during her 1966-67 Westpac combat cruise. Her fincap fairing reveals that it was one of four squadron aircraft equipped with the AN/APR-24 Radar Homing And Warning (RHAW) system. The AN/APR-24 system was not a success, as illustrated by this report in the squadron's command history for 1966: "The four APR-24 systems have proven to be completely unsatisfactory for F-4B utilization. It is unsuited for the complex electronic environment existing in the Gulf of Tonkin and is extremely difficult to maintain. As of the end of calendar year 1966 we are anticipating removal of the system unless marked improvement is recognized’’.

(A. B. Stocker via Richard Davies Collection)

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