The Real Phantom Menace

More than 35 years before George Lucas made it good, real Phantoms were wreaking havoc from the skies over Vietnam.

In operation with the US Marines, Navy and Air Force, the McDonnell Phantom F4 became the Americans’ mainstay for ground attacks against the North Vietnamese army and the Vietcong.  Its huge bomb payload was a real menace to troops and equipment – and often civilians.

However, in air-to-air dogfights against the much lighter and more agile MiG-21, it was out-manoeuvred by its Soviet ballerina-like opponent.

Equipped with just Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles, which did not help very much at closer-range combat, its lack of a gun was its Achilles heel.

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