VX-4 “Evaluators”F-4J Phantom II serial #153783
The Rhino, “Double Ugly”, Ol’Smokey, “Lead Sled”and the “St Louis Slugger”are all nicknames given to one of the most famous fighters of all time. In recognition of its impressive history in air superiority and its high number of credited kills, the Phantom earned the title of “the worlds leading distributor of MiG parts”
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom is a long range supersonic interceptor/fighter-bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. Ol’Smokey entered service in mid-1960s as a USN carrier based fighter. Due to its inherent design adaptability and multi role combat potential, the Phantom soon saw service with the USAF as well as the USMC. The F-4 also holds the distinctive honor of being the only aircraft to be used simultaneously by the USN Blue Angels and USAF Thunderbirds demonstration squadrons. Over the course of its history, the F-4 was operated by a multitude of nations around the world including; Australia, Israel, Egypt, Germany, The United Kingdom, Greece, Japan, Spain, South Korea and Turkey.
F-4J Phantom #153783 Vandy 1 was perhaps one of the most easily recognizable markings of any of its kind. Sporting the colors of the VX-4 USN Squadron, Number 3783 was painted all black and emblazoned with the white bunny on the vertical stabilizer.
Like the Phantom, the VX-4 was normally assigned aircraft that are characteristic of those currently deployed in the Fleet. Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Four, conduct evaluations and testing of air launched guided missiles, terrain clearance radar, and Dopppler Nav systems. Introduced to VX-4 in the early 1960’s, The F-4 served until January 1990 where it was replaced by the F-14D Super Tomcat and ultimately the F/A-18.
On August 30, 1984, “Ol’ Smokey”#153783 was transferred the Royal Air Force, and reassigned as ZE351
During US operations in Desert Storm, Desert Shield and Southwest Asian operations, VX-4 repeatedly served a critical role in identifying fighter weapon and aircraft system deficiencies as well as delegating fixes to heighten operational success. On September 30th 1994, VX-4 was disestablished, and the squadron assets were reassigned to VX-9 Vampires.