Cold War Era

RF-4C cockpit recording captures the moment its wingman is shot down by North Vietnamese SA-2

RF-4C Phantom tail #69-0355 went down during “Vietnam Ceasefire” ops while serving with the 14th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron of the 432nd TFW based at Udorn RTFAFB, Thailand.

The video in this post is the cockpit recording from RF-4C Phantom (callsign Dodge 1 NOT Fox as indicated in subtitles) during Vietnam War recon flight. Wingman (Dodge 2) is shot down by SA-2 Guideline missile. Capt Roger Ernest Behnfeldt was Dodge 2A (Pilot) and Captain Tamotsu Shingaki was Dodge 2B (WSO). RF-4C Phantom tail #69-0355 went down approximately 8 mi. NE of Bac Giang NVN during “Vietnam Ceasefire” ops while serving with the 14th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron of the 432nd TFW based at Udorn RTFAFB, Thailand. Captain Shingaki was captured by the NVA but was released on Mar. 29, 1973. Capt Behnfeldt was declared MIA for 15 years until his remains were recovered in 1987.

In the early 1960s, the USAF recognized the need for more tactical reconnaissance aircraft to reinforce the RF-101s then in service. The USAF chose a modification of the F-4C fighter. The RF-4C development program began in 1962, and the first production aircraft made its initial flight on May 18, 1964. The Air Force officially accepted a total of 499 RF-4Cs. 

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The RF-4C can carry a variety of cameras in three different stations in its nose section. It could take photos at both high and low altitude, day or night. The RF-4C carried no offensive armament, although during the last few years of its service some were fitted with four AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles for defense.

The 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron became the first operational unit to fly the RF-4C. In October 1965 that unit deployed to Southeast Asia to provide photographic reconnaissance of the growing conflict in South Vietnam. In the following years, RF-4Cs flew reconnaissance missions around the world, including Desert Shield/Desert Storm in Iraq in 1990-1991. The Air Force retired all of its RF-4Cs by 1995.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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