45 Years ago today..
F-4J-35-MC Phantom II “Showtime 104” of Fighter Squadron (VF) 96 pictured on a catapult on board the carrier USS Constellation (CVA 64) steaming in the Gulf of Tonkin during Operation Linebacker, May 10, 1972.
Sadly, everything you see is now but a memory.
The Fighting Falcons of VF-96 have been inactivated since 1 Dec 1975 while the last combat rated Phantoms (the F-4S’s of VF-202) were retired in 1987 although some were converted to QF-4 target drones and kept around at at NAS Point Mugu as late as 2004.
Speaking of which, BuNo. 155787, shown on the cat above, was converted to a F-4S model and was transferred to the AMARC boneyard as 8F0285 9 July 1987, remaining one of the very last Phantoms in Navy service with the aforementioned VF-202. She took a few more rides under remote control as QF-4S drone “106” and was stricken in 2000, likely expended in a live fire shoot.
As for Conny herself, she was put out to pasture in 2003 after 42 years of very active service. She has been in the breakers since last year.