Forging Phantom memories
I was pleased to see a VF-213 Black Lions F-4J on the cover of the March/April 2023 issue. I was a Black Lion from January 1970 to 1973 during which I made two combat deployments, one of which included Linebacker I. Those Phantoms took me to and brought me back from 288 combat missions (if I was counting).
Not to be nit-picky but there is one major error in Mr. Kolasa’s model: We never carried MERs (Multiple Ejector Racks) on the outboard wing stations. Never. You really paid a penalty in aircraft maneuverability if you got into a dogfight. If we were going to carry air-to-ground ordnance it would be either six Mk.82 500-pounders or four Mk.20 Rockeyes on TERs (Triple Ejector Racks) on the inboard station, along with four Sidewinders and four Sparrows on fuselage stations. I’ve included a few pictures from that time I thought you might enjoy.
I was amused at Mr. Kolasa’s comment of “other squadrons had more ‘flamboyant’ markings.” It brought to mind VF-51’s “Screaming Eagles.” We always joked about their Phantoms being decorated as a supersonic can-opener. – Jerry “KarateJoe” Watson Commander USN (Ret)
Ed.: Thanks for sharing your experiences with the Phantom and the photos as well! We sent your letter to Greg, and he responded with his characteristic sense of humor:
“Oh, I see Jerry’s game: He’s trying to goad me into a dogfight, knowing that he’d wax my ass because of all those Mk.82s on my outboards! Nice try, Jerry, but it won’t work!
“Seriously, I’d be an idiot to engage with someone who was actually there. As for his