Losses and Aviation Safety

This U.S. Navy F-4B was able to make an emergency landing aboard USS Ranger after her radome was destroyed by Vietnamese AAA

F-4B emergency landing

The main image of this article shows a U.S. Navy McDonnell F-4B Phantom II (BuNo 150643) of Fighter Squadron VF-142 Ghostriders. VF-142 was assigned to Attack Carrier Air Wing 14 (CVW-14) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Constellation (CVA-64) from May 5, 1964 to Feb. 1, 1965.

CVW-14 flew the first strikes of the Vietman War. On a photo reconnaissance mission to the Thanh Hoa Bridge, the F-4B 150643 of the fighter cover (call sign “Dakota 207”, pilot Fred Ferrazzano) was hit by a 57 mm shell at an altitude of 150 m. This hit destroyed the nose cone, parts of it being ingested by both J-79 engines and (as was later found out) the main spar had been twisted with the shock of the hit.

The F-4B pilot was able to do an emergency landing aboard the USS Ranger (CVA-61). Due to the damage the plane was later broken up for spare parts at Subic Bay, Philippines. Note that the aircraft is carrying an AIM-9B Sidewinder missile.

F-14B without radome

Noteworthy, 26 years after this incident, another VF-142 aircraft, this time a Grumman F-14B Tomcat (BuNo 161433) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), had to make an emergency landing when the nose cone came off because of a latching mechanism failure at a height of 8,200 m over the Persian Gulf.

During the departure the radome came in contact with the canopy and broke out the forward glass and shattered the windscreen. The pilot suffered a broken right collarbone and glass in both eyes, but managed to bring the jet back to the ship for a perfect two wire landing.

Forward visibility was restricted to looking through a three inch hole in the left windscreen since the rest of the forward glass was so badly cracked. The pilot was LCDR Joe Edwards and the RIO was LCDR Scott Grundmeier. LCDR Edwards was medevac’d to Bahrain for eye surgery then home to the US.

Both crew members received Distinguished Flying Crosses for their remarkable achievement.

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

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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