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This Is How The Bedevilers of VF-74 Became “First In Phantoms”

The Phabulous Phantom Was Brand New to the Fleet When McDonnell Made This Film

Official US Navy photograph

When McDonnell produced the film “The Phantom Joins the Fleet” during 1962 their F4H-1 (later F-4B) Phantom II was a new product. Featuring Fighter Squadron SEVEN FOUR (VF-74) Bedevilers flying from the nearly-new aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CVA-59) along with the rest of Carrier Air Wing EIGHT (CVW-8), the film takes a look back at what air ops aboard aircraft carriers looked like when the Phabulous Phantom joined the fleet. The film was uploaded to YouTube by PeriscopeFilm.

During July of 1961 VF-74 began their transition from the Douglas F4D-1 Skyray to the McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom II and in so doing earned their sobriquet “first in Phantoms” by becoming the first deployable F4H-1/F-4B squadron. VF-74 first deployed aboard the Forrestal on August 3rd 1962. Over the next 20 years VF-74 would deploy to the Mediterranean 13 times and to Southeast Asia twice while flying the F4H-1/F-4B, F-4J, and F-4S variants of the Phantom II.

Official US Navy photograph

The other CVW-8 aircraft seen in the film include the Vought F8U-2N Crusaders of VF-103 Sluggers, the Douglas A4D-2N Skyhawks of VA-83 Rampagers and A4D-2 Skyhawks of VA-81 Crusaders, the Douglas AD-6 Skyraiders of VA-85 Black Falcons, the A3D-2 Skywarriors of VAH-5 Savage Sons, the Vought F8U-1P Photo Crusaders of VFP-62 Fighting Photos (Detachment), the Grumman WF-2 Tracers of VAW-12 Bats (Detachment), and the Piasecki HUP-2 Retriever helicopters of HC-2 Fleet Angels (Detachment).

Official US Navy photograph

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Bill Walton

Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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