The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a two-seat, supersonic long-range all-weather fighter-bomber. The aircraft was designed as a USN Fleet defense aircraft and entered service in 1961. The F-4 soon became one of the few aircraft to be utilized by the USN, USAF and USMC. The Phantom could carry a varied payload and armament so it was well suited to do just about any job. Because of its large nose and ruggedness the F-4 earned the nickname “Rhino”, along with others that were less flattering. The F-4 went on to serve in no less than 11 other countries. Production ended in 1979 with 5,201 aircraft manufactured in 14 different versions.
McDonnell Douglas produced 175 F-4F Phantom IIs for the West German Air Force with the maiden flight taking place on May 18, 1973. Deliveries of the F-4F began in September 1973 and lasted until April 1976. These aircraft were assigned to two interceptor wings, JG-71 “Richthofen” and JG-74 “Molders” and two ground attack wings, JBG-35 and JBG-36. In 1999 F-4F 37+86 was given a special paint scheme to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of JG-71 “Richthofen”. The colors represent the red ofManfred von Richthofen and the tulip of Erich Hartmann.