After 40 years of service the last F-4F Phantom will retire from the German Air Force. In a two-day event, organized by the Luftwaffen at F-4 base Wittmundhafen in the most northern part of Germany, the public says goodbye to the last of the Spooks.
On Friday 28 June, spotters from all over Europe gathered at the gates of Wittmundhafen for a special spotters day. The event, only accessible with an accreditation, would only be a static display with no flying. On Saturday a public day was planned with a small airshow to conclude the celebrations.
Friday the weather was terrible with light rain the whole day. Despite of the weather photo opportunities of the Phantoms were great. The Luftwaffe to special care of placing the aircraft in front of the shelters with no barriers around them. They would even supply aircraft stepladders for great angled shots. Placement of the other visitor’s, Belgium F-16s, Spanish Hornets, German Eurofighters, Tornado’s, Hawks and Skyhawks, was a different game, with barriers placed to close to the aircraft so taking good shots was hard.
Saturday, against all odds, the weather was better. Although getting to the base was a logistical nightmare as most of the parking lots had changed overnight into mud pools. But flying a formation of 4 special color phantoms made up for this. The “Heritage Flight” shows the color scheme’s of the different decades of F-4 in the Luftwaffe, dating from the 70s up to now. See a detailed description of the special aircraft present at the end of this article.
C.15-34 / 12-50, EF-18
The Jagdgeschwader “Richthofen” JG71 will now operate the Eurofighter. The aircraft will also be fitted with the distinctive red “R” sign on the fuselage. The first Eurofighter (30+83) is already at Wittmundhafen to take over the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) tasks of the Phantom.
To celebrate the end of the Phantom in the German Luftwaffe, several aircraft were painted in special schemes to represent the different decades of operation.
37+01 Painted in an attractive gold and blue “Phinal Pharewell” color scheme. This aircraft will be preserved at the entrance of Wittmundhafen airfield. 37+01 was in fact the very first F-4F to leave the factory with up to 7400 hours on the clock.
38+01 Wears the well known German “Norm 72” camouflage scheme of the early 70s. The green and gray scheme was developed for the F-4s air-to-ground role. Very distinctive with the huge serials on the fuselage.
38+33 The gray-gray color scheme, better known as “Norm 81” was introduced in the 80s and represented the air-to-air missions flown in this decade. This airframe has only 6500 hours and is one of the “youngest” of the fleet.
37+22 The latest schema is the overall gray scheme called “Norm 90” which was used until today.
38+13 If you ask me, one of the most attractive paint schemes ever. This Flight Test Phantom flying with WTD61 is painted black with an orange checked flag on the rear fuselage and tail. It bears the titles “Don’t let me die. I want to Fly!”
38+28 “45 Jahre in Schortens” celebrated 45 years of F-4 operations from Jever and Wittmund.
Special thanks to the German Luftwaffe and Gerben Wessels.