Accident McDonnell Douglas F-4B Phantom II 151403,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 94364
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Date:Friday 9 April 1965
Type:Silhouette image of generic F4 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
McDonnell Douglas F-4B Phantom II
Owner/operator:VF-96, US Navy
Registration: 151403
MSN: 365
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:South China Sea, off Hainan Island -   China
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:USS Ranger (CVA-61)
Destination airport:
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
The outcome of VF-96’s (and the F-4B’s) first MiG engagement remains uncertain.Lt(jg) Terry Murphy and “rookie” Ens Ron Fegan were section leaders for a VF-96 BARCAP on April 9, 1965, replacing an F-4B (BuNo 151425) that had crashed shortly after being launched from the USS Ranger

The rapidly rearranged Combat Air Patrol entered its orbit as two separated sections, each on different radio frequencies. Murphy and Fegan, in “Showtime 611”(BuNo 151403), took their section close enough to Communist Chinese Hainan Island for four Chinese navy Shenyang F-5s from the Nanhai Naval Air Group to be launched from Lingshui Naval Air Force Base.

Turning to investigate the contacts on their radar scopes, Murphy and Fegan became separated from their wingmen, Lt Howie Watkins and Lt(jg) Jack Mueller, who in turn were attacked by a MiG 17F. The latter disengaged its afterburner and turned back for a second run at the F-4. Moments later, Murphy apparently fired an AIM-7 AAM at a MiG during a vertical manoeuvre, but he was not contactable again, until an aircraft (possibly mistakenly identified as a MiG by Mueller) was seen falling away into the clouds in flames.

Meanwhile, all three of the remaining VF-96 F-4Bs became involved in individual dogfights, and at least four AIM-7 and three AIM-9 launches were attempted, although all missiles either failed to track or did not leave the aircraft. According to the pilot of the No 4 MiG-17F, Capt Li Dayun (interviewed in 1994 by a Joint Task Force investigator), “Showtime 611” was hit by one of these malfunctioning missiles and crashed just offshore, killing its crew.

He reported thatthe four MiG pilots never received permission to fire, and claimed that all returned to base, although Murphy’s crew was subsequently awarded a MiG kill. The engagement was then “buried” so as to avoid provoking an international incident, but some problems that would arise over and over again in future combats were revealed for the first time.

Poor communications, lack of flight formation integrity, unreliable missiles, and out-of-parameters missile launches were to befrequent themes for the next seven years, as was the determination of the Chinese to defend their airspace. There were also other cases where Phantom IIs were accidentally fired on by “friendly” missiles.

note: This message is unconfirmed


Revision history:

16-Nov-2011 18:44 Dr. John Smith Updated [Registration, Cn, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Country, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
16-Nov-2011 19:04 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
29-Mar-2013 21:22 Uli Elch Updated [Aircraft type, Location, Narrative]
04-Nov-2015 08:54 niukou23 Updated [Narrative]

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