Home Cold War Era That Time US Navy F-4s Scored Plenty of Kills against then Brand-New USAF F-15s in Mock Air Combat

That Time US Navy F-4s Scored Plenty of Kills against then Brand-New USAF F-15s in Mock Air Combat

by Dario Leone
Unique Photos Show VF-202 F-4 Phantoms with F-15 Kill Marks

Holloman had just received the new F-15A Eagle and didn’t know how to use them yet, thus, the old hats in the F-4s cleaned house on them. Sadly, the markings did not stay on very long.

Brought to my attention by Kent Haktanir, a reader of The Aviation Geek Club, and originally taken by famous aviation author and photographer Bill Spidle on the NAS Dallas ramp shortly after VF-202 F-4N fighters returned from a detachment to Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), the unique photos in this post feature some Superheats Phantom with several F-15 kill marks.

That Time US Navy F-4s Scored Plenty of Kills against then Brand-New USAF F-15s in Mock Air Combat
F-4N (BuNo. 151463) from VF-202 Superheats adorned with eight black and two white F-15 kill markings. The black markings indicate confirmed kills, while the white markings are for probables that were scored in mock aerial combat with Eagles stationed at Holloman AFB.

Holloman had just received the new F-15A Eagle and didn’t know how to use them yet, thus, the old hats in the F-4s cleaned house on them. Sadly, the markings did not stay on very long.

That Time US Navy F-4s Scored Plenty of Kills against then Brand-New USAF F-15s in Mock Air Combat
A close-up of 152277’s splitter plate. There are eight black and two white silhouettes painted here.

Unfortunately, according to Spidle, the only story we got from the crews is that “They flew the Eagles like the Phantoms, no self respecting Phantom driver does not know how to defeat a Phantom.”

That Time US Navy F-4s Scored Plenty of Kills against then Brand-New USAF F-15s in Mock Air Combat
Another close-up on a VF-202 F-4 splitter plate. Once again, there are eight black and two white silhouettes painted here.

Keit Snyder, a native of Dallas Fort Worth, pretty much said the same thing: “Bill Spidle shot those on the NAS Dallas ramp shortly after the jets returned from a Det to Holloman. HO had just gotten Eagles, and didn’t know how to use them yet, the old hats in the F-4s cleaned house on them. Markings did not stay on very long.”

That Time US Navy F-4s Scored Plenty of Kills against then Brand-New USAF F-15s in Mock Air Combat
This close-up of F-4N BuNo. 150492 only displays six kills.

Noteworthy this is not the first story that appears on this site in which pilots of the then new F-15 Eagle underestimated their opponents.

That Time US Navy F-4s Scored Plenty of Kills against then Brand-New USAF F-15s in Mock Air Combat
152277 was one of the Phantoms from VF-202 that carried F-15 kill markings. This photo was taken at NAS Dallas Texas, on Nov. 11, 1978.

Several months ago, we reported of another interesting episode in which 2 experienced F-104 Starfighter drivers scored four simulated kills against a brand-new F-15B from 555th Fighter Squadron “Triple Nickel” based at Luke AFB in a single training sortie (you can read the whole story here).

That Time US Navy F-4s Scored Plenty of Kills against then Brand-New USAF F-15s in Mock Air Combat
An overall shot of 153056. She also displayed eight black Eagle kills and one white probable on her splitter plate.

Andy Bush, one of the Starfighter pilots and former instructor of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Fighter Weapons School (FWS) who took part in the dissimilar air combat training (DACT) sortie flown against Luke’s Eagle, recalled in the aftermath of the mock dogfight:

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“The debriefing was a hoot. I especially liked the part where the Nickle guy played his recorder and we heard the backseater say “Break, we just got gunned again!”

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“Of course, all of this should not have happened. The F-15 should have had us for lunch. But they didn’t, and it was all because they didn’t play to their strengths…and they severely underestimated their opponents. They didn’t do that again and that was a good thing.”

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Photo credit: Bill Spidle

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