Phantom in the Cold War, RAF Wildenrath 1977-1992

The author served as a navigator in the RAF and flew with the Phantom from Germany, also serving in Conversion training units, and commanded the Falklands Phantom detachment. The text provides a detailed view of Phantom operations during the Cold War and is supported by a great many photographs through the body of the book, including some stunning full colour images – Most Highly Recommended.


 

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The Phantom was the outstanding fighter aircraft for the US and its 
Allies through much of the Cold War. It was a large, powerful machine 
that concentrated on carrying missiles, rockets and bombs, able to 
operate from aircraft carriers and land bases. In Vietnam, the large 
and often smoky Phantom was at a disadvantage against the small MiG-21 
used by North Vietnam and led to the US Navy setting up its famous 
Top Gun school to train fighter pilots in dog fighting and operating 
against dissimilar fighters. It also highlighted the need to continue 
to equip fighters with cannon as well as bombs and missiles.

The British decided to adopt the Phantom but this was not without 
difficulty. The FAA needed a long nose wheel leg to provide the angle 
of attack required when catapult launching from HMS Ark Royal. The 
politicians decided they needed some British component and this 
resulted in a demand to replace the engines with Rolls Royce engines 
that required changes to the Phantom's rear contours and  presented 
airflow challenges, adding cost and delay without providing any real 
benefit. When it became necessary to augment Phantom numbers MoD 
ended up buying additional machines to straight USN specifications.

The author has provided an excellent account of RAF Phantom 
operations from RAF Wildenrath, Germany, between 1977 and 1992, 
which was a very important stage of the Cold War, leading into the 
period of Glasnost and the break up of the Soviet Union.