Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Coral Sea Phantom

The third photo in our Navy Carrier series shows an F-4N Phantom, hook down, overflying the USS Coral Sea. Unfortunately, there is no date or other information on the back of this print. [Update...see Ran's comments below regarding probably timeframe for this photo.]

The Coral Sea, a Midway-class carrier, was originally commissioned on October 1, 1947. After a major re-fit that gave her a jet-era angled deck, she was recommissioned on January 25, 1960. She made a number of WestPac cruises, and participated extensively in the Vietnam War, as well as in operations during the fall of Saigon and the Mayaguez incident. She later saw service during the Iranian hostage crisis and, in 1986, launched her aircraft on combat sorties into Libya. In 1982, Coral Sea appeared in the movie The Right Stuff.


  1. Tail code NK identifies this an an aircraft of CVW-14, I believe.

    CVW-14 was embarked on the Coral Sea from 79 to 85, but it only had F-4 aircraft until 83.

    The 111 on the nose corresponds with either the VMFA-323 Death Rattlers in the 79-80 cruise, or the VF-154 Black Knights in the three deployments between 81 and 83.

    The VMFA-323 tail markings seem to be red bands with white diamonds, whereas this plane bears the red and black flash of VF-154.

    This narrows it down to 81-83.

    The BuNo on the tail is 150438, which was purchased as one of the 649 F4H-1 procured, but is also one of the 228 converted to F-4N, under Project Bee Line. Curuously, this bird was retired to MASDC on 8/19/82, so I think one can narrow this image down to the span on 5/4/81 to 3/23/82. Alas, she was scrapped 9/17/04.

    This aircraft served as the CAG bird, bearing AE/200 on the USS Roosevelt in 1974. Here she is in that guise (http://lh6.ggpht.com/-TWgO1dF2IaQ/TD48pvzZloI/AAAAAAAACCg/XznlAm179Qk/150438-f-4n-vf-84-ae200-sep75-pmc.jpg).

    1. Wow, Ran, fantastic information! Thanks so much for the research help! -Alan

  2. This is an F4-N. VF-154 flew these on two deployments that I made. These were the 81-82 WesPac and the 83 around the worls cruise.
    David Hickey, ATCS, retired