Phantom Wreck: The Final Days of F-4J ‘ZE351’ at RAF Finningley

phantom-ze351-finningley-dump-3 (Images: Alan Allen, reproduced with permission)

These photographs by Al Henderson and Alan Allen mark the last few days of Phantom F-4J ZE351 on the fire dump at RAF Finningley in South Yorkshire, awaiting scrapping.

phantom-ze351-finningley-dump (Image: Al Henderson, reproduced with permission)

Withdrawn from use later that year, the retired fighter was given the maintenance serial 9058M and left to the mercy of the airfield firefighters. Badly burned, it was eventually scrapped in October 1995.


phantom-ze351-finningley-dump-4 (Images: Alan Allen, reproduced with permission)

The tail fin was saved at the eleventh hour and displayed by a canal loch five miles from Finningley, which has since become Robin Hood Airport, and recently resurfaced on eBay. The aircraft was one of a fleet of F-4J (UK) model Phantoms operated by No. 74 Fighter Squadron at RAF Wattisham, Suffolk, from 1984 to 1991.

During Service

phantom-f-4j-uk-153783-ze351 (Image: Peter Foster (website:, reproduced with permission)

ZE351 had previously been operated by the US Navy, serial number 153773, and was purchased by the Royal Air Force in a bid to fill a gap in the UK Phantom fleet. The aircraft is pictured above in service with 74 Squadron prior to retirement.

Keep reading – check out this Downed F-4 Phantom Wreck in Hanoi.



  • Tom

    kenericm, many thanks for your comment and sorry for the late response! I remember seeing this Phantom on its belly at Finningley as a boy. It must be odd for someone who actually flew it, but then I suspect it’s the usual fate for retired (military) jets, sadly, though perhaps the Phantom more so than others. I’m unaware of any F-4Js surviving in RAF scheme, with the exception of one at Manston that I can only assume is destined for the fire section! Not a J, but lets hope Black Mike can be saved! Thanks again for getting in touch.

  • Tom

    Thanks Dave, that’s interesting to hear. I remember reading some time ago that the tail had been saved and glad to hear it’s still going strong! I remember seeing once visiting the hulk to find its tail had gone, so I assume it was removed some time before the airframe was finally scrapped. If so, I assume that means it was approved internally as it certainly wasn’t saved during scrapping as far as I know?! Would be great if the cockpit had been saved, though I suspect we’d know about it. That said, there is a lot of bureaucracy surrounding Phantom parts, so maybe not 🙂

  • Tom

    Hi Grahame, thank you very much for getting in touch and great that you were able to save ZE351’s tail fin. I remember visiting as a teenager and on one occasion noticing that the tail had been removed and hoping at the time that its fate was better than that of the airframe! Sorry to hear of your diagnosis and £431 is a great achievement. Phantoms live on indeed and glad that ZE351 is still represented out there!


Popular Posts


Latest Articles


Explore Urban Ghosts


    Sponsored Content


    Abandoned & Urbex


    Send this to friend

    Urban Ghosts uses cookies to enhance your browsing experience and to serve you with advertisements that might interest you. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Privacy Policy

    The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.