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Luftwaffe / WTD61 F-4F Phantom II air-air
Where? Bavaria, Germany
When? 07/2013

The months of June and July 2013 saw the final operations of German F-4F Phantoms. With Jagdgeschwader 71 "R" at Wittmund officially putting Luftwaffe Phantom operations to an end and handing over the QRA task to the Eurofighter, the two Manching-based Phantoms were the last German examples to soldier on for some more days. During those final days also arose a unique photo opportunity - a Phantastic "Phantom Pharewell Photo Phlight"!

The F-4F Phantom II was a long time workhorse at the German armed forces Test and Evaluation unit WTD61 (Wehrtechnische Dienststelle 61), providing continuous support to their Luftwaffe counterparts with regards to system and/or weapon upgrades. Apart from that the small fleet of WTD Phantoms provided an essential support to WTD61's flight test activities. After the Luftwaffe F-4F Phantom II Pharewell Party in Wittmund it is thus no wonder that the charismatic jet has grown on the test pilots and ground crews over the past 40 years and was also put out of service by the WTD61 in style!

With orange as the base colour for everything being flight test related and black as the colour of sorrow, the basis for one of the most spectacular F-4F Phantom II schemes was put in place quite easily. With the great idea to add a highly visible checkerboard pattern and the Spooky as the Phantom-communities mascot a distinctive look as finally created. And it was one that made many many Phantom Phanatics all over the world buzzing with excitement!

Such a stunning scheme had to be photographed in the air, and with the help of some great people it was possible to set up a photo mission with the Phantom at the dawn of their career, which provided the opportunity to catch some unique angles of this colourscheme.

With the first photos taken at a higher altitude and some nice clouds forming an excellent background, the last passes were used to capture the jet above the larger surroundings of Manching and of course the airfield itself, the Phantom's home for the past decades. It was a fitting tribute to the old lady that is sorely missed and (from a "phanatic" photographers point of view) will be hard to be replaced by any other aircraft.

These photos are dedicated to all those people involved in setting up this great flight!

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