F4 Phantom - A Pilot's Story - Robert Prest

January 27, 2014

F4 Phantom - A Pilot's Story - Robert Prest

F4 Phantom - A Pilot's Story

Robert Prest

 

First Published: 1979

ISBN: 0-304-30311-9

Publisher: Cassell Ltd.

Pages: 209

Robert Prest's book, F4 Phantom - A Pilot's Story, is an autobiographical account of the author's experiences flying the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II during the 1970's whilst serving with the Royal Air Force.

Apart from a brief chapter at the beginning of the book that tells when, as a child, he first saw an F-4 Phantom and his training to become an RAF pilot, the entire book is a journey through some select  experiences chosen from his years flying the F4 Phantom II.

The book is an excellent insight into life as an RAF pilot during the Cold War period of the 1970's.  The stories Prest has chosen to recount, from what must be a huge log book, areincredibly varied and range from flying Combat Air Patrols over the North Sea close to Norway and the Arctic Circle, defending attacks on carrier forces in NATO exercises, switching to the ground attack, or "mud mover", role to simulate attacks on aerodromes in the UK, patrols in Germany along the Soviet border and protecting SEPECAT Jaguars from "enemy" Phantoms as they carry out bombing exercises show that the variety of situations in which Prest finds himself in are many and all are enthralling.

His vivid descriptions of life in an F4 Phantom cockpit actually put you in the star filled, moonless sky over the North Sea at 30,000 feet and 400 knots;  A blip on the radar screen  leads to a midnight vis-ident encounter with a 747 Jumbo '...stealing up from low in the stern..'; Coming in to land he takes you through the pilot's thought process "...On-Speed - 148 Knots... hook - checked up... harness - tight and locked...". His writing at times is eloquent and prosaic, not quite like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry but nearly. At other times his writing is the fast pace of the fighter pilot, screaming through valleys, defending ground attack aircraft or formation flying for an air show, "plugging in" for air-to-air refuelling and aerial combat exercises.

There is no combat in the book. There are no bombing runs into heavily defended, high priority targets. There are chance encounters with other NATO aircraft in Germany which quickly develop into "friendly" dog fights. There are instrumentation failures, navigation errors, weather problems, aerial gunnery exercises and, sadly but inevitably, tragic accidents involving his fellow pilots.  F4-Phantom - A Pilot's Story is exciting and enthralling enough without the combat and Robert Prest has done an excellent job in keeping the reader firmly in the cockpit of his aircraft.

Aircraft, Squadrons and OCUs

A list of the aircraft mentioned in this book and corresponding page numbers. Many types are given only a passing mention, however the historical context in which they are referred to, their geographic location or just their action could be of interest to any researcher in aviation or AvGeek in general.

The page numbers referencing the F4 Phantom II model may seem strange given that "F4 Phantom- A Pilot's Story" is entirely based upon this aircraft type. They have been included to show when the author referrers to his own aircraft directly or other pilot's Phantoms.

Soviet aircraft have their NATO Reporting Names in speech marks.

There is a printing error on page 52  which incorrectly identifies the Tupolev Tu-95 "Bear" as a Tu-16. The description Prest gives of the aircraft is unmistakably a Tu-95 with its "...four giant Kuznetsov turboprops.."; the Tu-16 has two turbojet engines.

AIRCRAFT TYPE (INC. VARIENT) Page number
Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde 135
Antonov An-12  “Cub” 49
Avro Lancaster 183, 184
Avro Type 696 Shackleton AEW 110, 111-113
Blackburn Buccaneer  24, 34, 45, 61, 75, 87, 109-113, 126, 142, 167, 195, 199, 205
Boeing 707 48
Boeing 737 130, 135
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress 67
Breguet Br. 1150 Atlantic 32
Convair F-106 Delta Dart 13, 125
Dassault MD. 452 Mystère 153
Dassault Mirage 68, 73, 127, 153, 166
Dassault Mirage 5 149
Dassault Mirage III Interceptor 151
de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk 80
de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito 185-186
English Electric Canberra T4 13, 60, 76-78, 151
English Electric Lightning (Link to an interesting E.E. Lightning promo film) 13, 47, 53, 57-58, 68, 70-72, 80-81, 93, 97-100, 127, 137, 167-168, 186, 170- 174, 189, 191, 194, 197, 199, 205
Fiat G91 149, 153
Fournier RF-4 153
Gloster Javelin 168
 Handley Page Halifax 184
Handley Page Victor  21, 22, 24, 30, 34-35, 46, 54, 61, 74-76, 101, 110-111, 115-121, 187, 189, 199
Hawker Hunter 6, 13, 61, 68, 168
Hawker Siddeley (Folland) Fo. 141 Gnat 5, 47, 61, 165
 Hawker Siddeley Harrier  25, 26, 61, 126, 149, 168, 175, 189, 199, 205
Hawker Siddeley Nimrod 32, 124, 126
Hunting P.84 Jet Provost 4, 205
Hunting P.84 Jet Provost Mk. 3 4
Ilyushin Il-38 “May” 53
Junkers Ju 87 Stuka  67
Junkers Ju-88 185
Lockheed C-130 Hercules 122, 124
Lockheed C-141 Starlifter 125
Lockheed F-104 Starfighter 15, 17-19, 49, 68, 125, 127, 147, 153, 161-165, 200, 204, 205
General Dynamics F-16A/B Fighting Falcon 147, 205
Lockheed P-2 Neptune  32
Lockheed P-3 Orion 32
LTV (Ling-Temco-Vought) A7 Corsair II 125, 152
 LTV (Ling-Temco-Vought) A7D Corsair II  152
 McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle 147, 153, 205
McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II 3, 7, 10, 21, 25, 28-29, 34, 38, 53-54, 68, 73, 77-78, 81, 85-92, 96-97, 101- 103, 107, 109-110, 113, 118, 120, 124- 125, 131-132, 135-137, 139, 141, 143- 145, 147, 149, 150, 153, 160-161, 164- 165, 167, 169-170, 173, 175, 183, 185, 186, 187, 188-195, 197-199, 200, 202, 204
 McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II XT893  10
 McDonnell Douglas F-4D Phantom II  103
 McDonnell Douglas F-4D Wild Weasel  189-190, 199
 McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II  101, 103, 125, 153
 McDonnell Douglas F-4F Phantom II  167
 McDonnell Douglas FG-1 Phantom II  102
 McDonnell Douglas FG-1 Phantom II XV577  110
 McDonnell F-101 Voodoo  13
 Messerschmitt Bf 110  184
 Mikoyan MiG  96, 130,141-142, 166
 Mikoyan MiG-21 “Fishbed”  96, 130, 142
 Mikoyan MiG-23 “Flogger”  130, 141
 Myasishchev M-4, 3M “Bison” 53
 Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter 73, 125, 147, 149, 153
 Pitts Special Bi-Plane  159-160
 Republic F-105 Thunderchief  13, 125, 166
Saab 35 Draken  147
Scottish Aviation Bulldog  124
SEPECAT Jaguar  75, 124, 126, 139, 142, 167, 175, 189- 196, 199, 205
Short Stirling  184
Sopwith Camel  77
 Supermarine Spitfire 13, 80
Tupolev Tu-126 “Moss”  53
Tupolev Tu-142 “Bear-F” ASW  53-54
Tupolev Tu-16 “Badger”  53
Tupolev TU-95 “Bear-A”  54
Tupolev TU-95/142 “Bear”  15, 20, 52-55, 127, 142
Tupolev TU-95Mr “Bear-E”  54
Tupolev TU-95RTz “Bear-D”  54
Vickers VC-10  80, 124
SQUADRONS AND OTHER AIR GROUPS Page number
No. 2 Squadron RAF 175
No. 5 Squadron RAF 189
No. 14 Squadron RAF 189
No. 19 Squadron RAF “Dolphins” 137, 157
No. 23 Squadron RAF 81
No. 25 Squadron RAF 138
No. 29 Squadron RAF 191
No. 41 Squadron RAF 165
No. 43 Squadron RAF “fighting cocks” 26, 40, 81, 101-102, 115-116, 150, 175, 187, 189
No. 56 Squadron RAF 73
No. 92 (East India) Squadron RAF “The Cobras” 127, 137, 150, 153, 157, 161, 168
No. 617 Squadron RAF 183
 892 Naval Air Squadron  81
 The Path Finders  185
No. 228 Operational Conversion Unit RAF (Phantoms) 7
No. 349 Squadron (Belgian) 152
525th Fighter Squadron USAF “The Bulldogs” 101
Aggressor Squadron 125
Escadron de Chasse 3/2 Alsace ALA 151

F4 Phantom - A Pilot's Story - Robert Prest





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