HISTORY OF 145310
Our Phantom F4 (145310) was delivered to the Navy in August 1959 and was the 11th pre-production Phantom to be built. It was used in different tests to include weapons trials, carrier work, and some “Sageburner” trials. One of its more memorable performances was demonstrating its bombing capability. On April 22nd, 1961, it carried twenty-two 500 pound MK 83 live bombs and dropped them at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Observing that day was President John F. Kennedy. It was this demonstration that later sold the Phantom to the U.S. Air Force, filling its need for a hefty fighter-bomber.
This load allowed for no external fuel and limited its combat radius. Later, a mix of fuel plus bombs resulted in the F-4 being capable of delivering 8-10 bombs on target at a reasonable distance from the carrier. During one of the weapons tests in 1961, 145310 launched a sidewinder missile and burnt the paint clean off the bottom of the wing, landing gear door, and pylon. Also, in 1961, 145310 suffered an engine failure in flight, but the aircraft landed safely. In 1964, the Navy was finished with its F-4 test aircraft and 145310 saw its last flight in September of that year. It retired with less than 1,000 flight hours, and it would then spend the next 35 years in different storage locations throughout the United States.
It had been declared military surplus, processed through DRMO, GSA, stricken from the inventory and basically was reduced in stature to scrap. It sat as a gate guard at one point, spent time in a East Coast museum storage yard, and eventually migrated west to Southern California. One lucky day in 2000, a former Phantom Crew Chief and a couple of friends with financial backing, found 145310 in acceptable condition, and for an undisclosed amount purchased the aging Phantom. And, so the journey begins for a newborn museum and this tired warrior to begin a new adventure together.