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Why Is The Phantom A Twinseater?  
User currently offlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3564 posts, RR: 29
Posted (8 years 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 4115 times:

Certainly, as a multi-role plane, I understand that the Phantom was also designed for ground attacks. But many places it was still mostly destined to be a fighter, at least that is the case in Germany.

So why is it that all Phantoms are twin-seaters? Were the electronics not so advanced in the beginning that two people are needed to control it?

What is the job of the backseater in a F-4F or F-4E? Could he also fly the plane from the back?

20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineEBJ1248650 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1932 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (8 years 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 4115 times:

Quoting TheSonntag (Thread starter):
Certainly, as a multi-role plane, I understand that the Phantom was also designed for ground attacks. But many places it was still mostly destined to be a fighter, at least that is the case in Germany.

So why is it that all Phantoms are twin-seaters? Were the electronics not so advanced in the beginning that two people are needed to control it?

What is the job of the backseater in a F-4F or F-4E? Could he also fly the plane from the back?

In USAF F-4C, D and E aircraft, the backseater had flight controls and could fly from the back. Not sure that's true of the RF-4C and I don't know that the F-4G could be flown from back there. The Navy and Marine F-4B, J, N and S models didn't have dual controls. Navy and Marine F-4s had dedicated mission specialists in the back seat to run radar and other equipment while the pilot flew the airplane from the front.

In any case, it was decided that it was necessary to have a two man crew to handle the flying and the operation of radar and electronic countermeasures equipment. You're right in your belief the electronic equipment wasn't as automated as it is today. Bear in mind the F-4 was initially designed in the middle 1950s. Even the F-111, designed in the '60s, had to be a two man crew airplane because again the systems weren't automated to the extent they are today.

And it's interesting the French are firmly convinced the Rafale strike fighter must be a two seater; they are certain there's enough to do in a low level high speed attack on a surface target to keep both crew members busy while not allowing a single crew member to be overwhelmed with his workload.

Hope this helps.



Dare to dream; dream big!
User currently offlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3564 posts, RR: 29
Reply 2, posted (8 years 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 4093 times:

Quoting EBJ1248650 (Reply 1):

Hope this helps.

Indeed it did, thanks a lot. I saw a report on TV about the F4-F where they said that the radar could only be switched on from the back. Also, certainly 4 eyes see more than 2, so I do not think at all it is a bad idea to have a twin-seater. Still, it is not usual for fighters anymore. The Eurofighter is a single-seater, even though the few double-seat Eurofighters used for training have the same capabilities with only a very small payload penalty.


User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12134 posts, RR: 51
Reply 3, posted (8 years 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 4091 times:

I might add the USN F-14A was also a two seater. It came around in the early 1970s. The USN decided they needed a REO for the radar and the weapons could be operated from either seat. At the same time the USAF F-15A came out as a one seater.

The F-4 was a truely multi-mission aircraft. It was used as a bomber as well as a fighter and an interceptor, so it needed a crew of two. Other airplanes of the same period, like the F-100, F-101, F-102, F-105, F-106, and A-4 were mostly single mission, single seat airplanes also from the 1950s.


User currently offlinePtrjong From Netherlands, joined Mar 2005, 3929 posts, RR: 18
Reply 4, posted (8 years 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 4073 times:

The early interception radars were demanding to handle. The F-86D, F-102 and F-106 were very much tailored to defending US airspace against bombers, so the pilot could afford not to look outside much. Most all-weather interceptors had a radar operator though, and some still do (Tornado ADV, MiG-31)

Peter Smile



The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad (Salvador Dali)
User currently offlineRAPCON From Puerto Rico, joined Jul 2006, 671 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (8 years 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 4027 times:

The old radars did not provide a digital presentation and so the raw signal required a trained crewmember interpret and operate both the radar and the accompanying weapons system.

The pilot has to concentrate on the flying.



MODS CAN'T STOP ME....THEY CAN ONLY HOPE TO CONTAIN ME!!!
User currently offlineEBJ1248650 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1932 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (8 years 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 4027 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 3):
I might add the USN F-14A was also a two seater. It came around in the early 1970s. The USN decided they needed a REO for the radar and the weapons could be operated from either seat. At the same time the USAF F-15A came out as a one seater.

The modern F-15E is also a two seater, and though its electronics are state of the art, it's long range and multiple capabilities necessitate a two man crew.

Frankly, I don't think we're going to see the two seat tactical fighter go away for a long long time. As enemy defenses and countermeasures become ever increasingly sophisticated, the work load for fighter crews will grow all the more and even with the most up to date electronics, it's going to take a skilled back seater to maintain a clear picture of the tactical situation and keep the mission success more a reality than a mere possibility.



Dare to dream; dream big!
User currently offlineF4wso From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 974 posts, RR: 11
Reply 7, posted (8 years 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 4002 times:

The original concept was for a single seater. I think the reason it went to two seats was for more autonomous intercept ability instead of the F-102/F-106 that were heavily dependant on ground station guidance. This is just a conjecture as I never really wondered why, just glad it did have two seats. The USAF started out with a pilot in the rear which is why there was a set of flight controls back there versus the Navy using a non-pilot RIO. Later on, the USAF switched to navigators called Weapons Systems Officers (WSO) or Guys In Back (GIB). The Weasels had Electronic Warfare Officers sometimes called Bears. I am not sure about the reason for that. When I was in navigator training, it seemed the folks picked for EWO training were those that could get excited listening to a dial tone on a phone  Smile

The RF-4C had flight controls in the rear. The pilots were good about letting the backseaters fly. We even had training requirements to fly at least ten minutes on a certain number of sorties every six months. That was one training requirement that everyone got more than the minimum requirements.

Gary
Cottage Grove, MN, USA



Seeking an honest week's pay for an honest day's work
User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13186 posts, RR: 77
Reply 8, posted (8 years 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 3911 times:

The orignal single seater, gun armed interceptor for the US Navy, soon became a gunless, twin seater, armed with a powerful radar and Sparrow missiles.
It never started out as multi role.

These early weapon systems were much more crew labour intensive.

I would guess the very quick adoption of a more multi role mission, first by the USMC, then the USAF, was due to the F-4 outperforming anything in service then.
The USAF adopted it (for a short time as the F-110A), after a fly off with their then tactical types, winning out in all significant areas, including range/warload as well the the stuff of breaking records-which it did too.

Germany, originally specifying only AIM-9's and the gun, also originally wanted a unique single seat config.
But not for long, changing to the normal seating well before any metal was cut.


User currently offlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3564 posts, RR: 29
Reply 9, posted (8 years 1 week 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 3897 times:

Thanks all for the info... Certainly the twin-seat config was one of the main reasons why the Phantom was suited for so many different missions. As far as I know, even the German F-4s were used as fighter-bombers, too.

Today they only remain in the fighter role, so it seems the career of this airplane ends with what it was originally planned for. Of course, other states might use them for many years to come. Are there any plans when the last state will retire the F4s? Sounds almost like the "When will Northwest retire the DC9" questions.

I wonder whether the developers in the 1950s would have believed that this plane is still flying around...


User currently offlineSP90 From United States of America, joined May 2006, 388 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (8 years 1 week 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 3774 times:

Heck, even the advance F-302 air and space interceptor in Stargate is a twin seater. They have all the state of the art electronics on that thing and still need one guy to do the flying while another took care of the radars.

User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12134 posts, RR: 51
Reply 11, posted (8 years 1 week 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 3731 times:

Quoting EBJ1248650 (Reply 6):
Frankly, I don't think we're going to see the two seat tactical fighter go away for a long long time.

I don't know about that. The F/A-18E, F-22A, F-35A/B/C, and EuroFighter are all single seaters, as are many of the newer Russian models. The only new "fighter" that I can think of that has two seats is the EF-18G, but it's primary mission is ECM, and is only a fighter for self defense.


User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13186 posts, RR: 77
Reply 12, posted (8 years 1 week 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 3715 times:

Many of the French AF and some of their naval Rafale fleet, will be twin seat, in the strike role.
Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 3's may well have plenty of twin seaters too, again in the strike role.

So it seems that in this role (and F-15E was another example), two are often better than one.
Even with more automated ECM systems, even with much more user friendly radars, FLIR/designators etc.


User currently offlineTexfly101 From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 351 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (8 years 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 3608 times:

I went back into my library and pulled out Thornborough's excellent book on the Phantom, "The Phantom Story". In it he states that John McDonnell, having lost out in the competition for a new navy fighter to Chance Vought's dogfighter, the F-8 Crusader, sent an unsolicited offer of an all purpose fighter. That offer ended up in a Navy Letter of Intent for an airplane known as the single seat F3H-G, that was signed up for two prototypes. Further talks with the Navy formulated that they wanted a fleet defense fighter to perform a 3 hour CAP. It was to be armed with long range guided missiles and had to have all weather, "night fighter" capablities ala the Air Force's F-89, and F-94. As stated before by several people in this thread, the radars of that time deemed that someone had to be exclusively assigned to them for effective operations. So McD redesigned the airplane to be a twin engine, two person, all missile configuration. It was designated the F4H-1. And the Phantom resulted from that design. So in essence, the Phantom ended up as a two seat aircraft due to the fact that McD lost the original competition to a single seat aircraft. Which was actually a very lucky thing for the Navy as they got the excellent F-8 Crusader "The Last of the Gunfighters" and the F-4 Phantom, probably the best all around, fighter airplane of that era.

User currently offlineDeltaDC9 From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 2844 posts, RR: 4
Reply 14, posted (8 years 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 3514 times:

It is easy to forget that the Phantom was designed starting in 1955, first flight was 1958, and went active in 1960 and flew for us until 1996 and for ohers to this day. This is absolutely amazing to me.


Dont take life too seriously because you will never get out of it alive - Bugs Bunny
User currently offlineDeltaDC9 From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 2844 posts, RR: 4
Reply 15, posted (8 years 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 3510 times:

Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 9):
Today they only remain in the fighter role, so it seems the career of this airplane ends with what it was originally planned for.

Actually that is not correct. It ended its active service with the US as a Wild Weasle attacking enemy SAM sites and was very very good at it.

BTW, they are serving us to this day as unmanned drones.



Dont take life too seriously because you will never get out of it alive - Bugs Bunny
User currently offlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3564 posts, RR: 29
Reply 16, posted (8 years 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 3492 times:

Quoting DeltaDC9 (Reply 15):

Yes, of course, but in Germany it is still the only airplane guarding German airspace, since the Eurofighter is only getting introduced now. I don't know whether the RF-4E is still used in some countries, and whether Turkey and Greece still use it in the Fighter-Bomber role, but at least in Germany, it is only used as a fighter anymore... Probably the role it was least suited for.

Of course, with the AMRAAM as primary armament, I would guess the Phantoms are not as harmless as one might think. They were even used to protect the Baltic airspace last year.

Of course, the step from the Phantom to the Eurofighter is a rather big one nevertheless. Lets see if the Eurofighter will have a servicetime which is as long as the servicelife of the Phantom.


User currently offlineTexfly101 From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 351 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (8 years 1 week 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 3484 times:

Quoting DeltaDC9 (Reply 14):
It is easy to forget that the Phantom was designed starting in 1955, first flight was 1958, and went active in 1960 and flew for us until 1996 and for ohers to this day. This is absolutely amazing to me.

yep, so right, probably never as veratile and longlived an airplane. The only reason why the B-52 doesn't get my vote is that is always has been a bomber, never having to cross the lines of CAP, dogfighter, close air support, SAM suppression, recon, target drone, etc...add in the fact that the users outside the US are too long to list. And over 6 decades...As DeltaDC9 says, an absolutely amazing service life.


User currently offlinePtrjong From Netherlands, joined Mar 2005, 3929 posts, RR: 18
Reply 18, posted (8 years 1 week 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 3475 times:

Quoting DeltaDC9 (Reply 14):
It is easy to forget that the Phantom was designed starting in 1955, first flight was 1958, and went active in 1960 and flew for us until 1996 and for ohers to this day. This is absolutely amazing to me.

I'm not disputing the F-4's merits, but its lifespan is not unique. At least two other 1950s fighters are still with us, the Mirage III and the MiG-21 (not to mention the MiG-19). The MiG-21 will likely outlive the F-4.

Peter



The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad (Salvador Dali)
User currently offlineDeltaDC9 From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 2844 posts, RR: 4
Reply 19, posted (8 years 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 3449 times:

Quoting Ptrjong (Reply 18):
I'm not disputing the F-4's merits, but its lifespan is not unique

I was making the point that the two man cockpit was mostly due to its early design and requirements to be multi purpose.

Quoting Ptrjong (Reply 18):
At least two other 1950s fighters are still with us, the Mirage III and the MiG-21 (not to mention the MiG-19). The MiG-21 will likely outlive the F-4.

The F-4 outclasses both those planes and will likely outlive them in Air Forces that can afford to do more than nurse those Migs.

Like I said, we used them on the front line until 1996 to achieve air superiority with great effect paving the way for the F-117s, F-16s, and F-15s. You did not see superpowers using either the Mirage III or Mig-21 in that capacity at that late date.

Just because third world nations nurse them along, that doesn't really say much. Museums do the same. Combat records are what matters.

Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 16):
but in Germany it is still the only airplane guarding German airspace

Another example of the F-4s status as a front line fighter even today.



Dont take life too seriously because you will never get out of it alive - Bugs Bunny
User currently offlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3564 posts, RR: 29
Reply 20, posted (8 years 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 3415 times:

Quoting DeltaDC9 (Reply 19):
Just because third world nations nurse them along, that doesn't really say much. Museums do the same. Combat records are what matters.

Of course, but we should not really underestimate the MIG 21 in this respect, it certainly showed its worthiness in several wars, as well.

The status of the F-4 in Germany certainly is surprising, I do not think it was planned to be used for as many years as it finally ended up. Of course, it is somewhat ironic, too, that it was equipped with the radar of the F/A-18, the airplane which replaced the Phantom in the navy.

Unfortunately I don't know how well the German F-4s perform in simulated battles against the Mig-29 and F-16s of other Nato countries... This would be really interesting to know...


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