Home » The VF-142 F-4B that was able to make an emergency landing aboard USS Ranger after her radome was destroyed by Vietnamese AAA

The VF-142 F-4B that was able to make an emergency landing aboard USS Ranger after her radome was destroyed by Vietnamese AAA

by Till Daisd
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VF-142 F-4B emergency landing

A U.S. Navy McDonnell F-4B Phantom II (BuNo 150643) belonging to Fighter Squadron VF-142 Ghostriders appears in the article’s featured photograph. VF-142 served with the aircraft carrier USS Constellation (CVA-64) from May 5, 1964, to February 1, 1965, as part of Attack Carrier Air Wing 14 (CVW-14).

The first strikes of the Vietnam War were launched by CVW-14. A 57 mm round struck the F-4B 150643 of the fighter cover (call sign “Dakota 207,” pilot Fred Ferrazzano) at 150 meters when it was on a photo reconnaissance mission to the Thanh Hoa Bridge. The main spar had been twisted by the impact, which also shattered the nose cone and caused portions of it to be ingested by both J-79 engines.

It was aboard the USS Ranger (CVA-61) that the pilot was allowed to recover. The aircraft was later disassembled in Subic Bay, Philippines, for spare parts because of the damage. Consider that an AIM-9B Sidewinder missile is being carried by the aircraft.

VF-142 transition from the F-4B to the F-4J

Home of M.A.T.S. states that the Ghostriders conducted four WestPac deployments between May 1964 and May 1968, with one deployment on the USS Ranger (CV-61) and the remaining deployments aboard the USS Constellation (CV-64). Two MiG-21s, one MiG-17, and an An-2 Colt aircraft were shot down by VF-142 crew members during these cruises. Additionally, the squadron received three COMNAVAIRPAC Battle Efficiency “E” Award.

On August 11, 1969, the Ghostriders, converted from F-4B to the more modern F-4J aircraft, made another deployment for WestPAC aboard USS Constellation. The squadron received the Naval Aviation Safety Award in 1969–1970 and the Battle E Award in 1968–1969. For their sixth combat deployment to Vietnam, VF-142 and USS Enterprise (CVN-65) deployed in June 1971.

VF-142 F-14B emergency landing

That time a VF-142 F-14 Tomcat with missing radome made an emergency landing aboard USS Eisenhower

Remarkably, another VF-142 aircraft, this time a Grumman F-14B Tomcat (BuNo 161433) on board the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), had to make an emergency landing when the nose cone came off due to a latching mechanism failure at a height of 8,200 m over the Persian Gulf, 26 years after the incident depicted in the post’s featured image.

The radome struck the canopy during departure, shattering the windshield and breaking out the front glass. Despite suffering a fractured right collarbone and glass in both eyes, the pilot successfully returned the jet to the ship for a flawless two-wire landing.

With all the forward glass so badly damaged, the only way to see forward was through a three-inch hole in the left windscreen. LCDR Joe Edwards flew as the pilot, and LCDR Scott Grundmeier served as the RIO. LCDR Edwards was medevac’d to Bahrain for eye surgery, then home to the US.

For their outstanding accomplishments, both crew members were awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses.

Photo by  Commander Fred Ferrazzano / U.S. Navy and U.S. Navy via HOME OF M.A.T.S.

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