(All images by Alan Allen, reproduced with permission)
Many of RAF Wattisham’s retired F-4 Phantoms were purchased by Hanningfield Metals and moved to their scrapyard at Stock near Chelmsford, Essex – the final resting place of many British military jets awaiting the shredder.
In 1992, their empty shells were chopped on site to make transportation easier, and are seen here piled one on top of the other or simply dumped on mounds of earth.
Several of the less damaged cockpit sections were put to one side, their more manageable size and internal restoration potential making the cockpits of many military aircraft types collectible.
But regulations governing the post-service life of the F-4 Phantom were rigid, with the majority of UK examples being broken-up to satisfy arms treaties. It’s likely many of these cockpit sections went the same way.
Perhaps the most famous example of an RAF Phantom to fall foul of the regulations was an FGR.2 model F-4, serial number XV404, which was painted in a stunning tiger scheme to commemorate the disbandment of No. 74 Squadron in 1992.
Hanningfield Metals planned to restore the aircraft as their gate guardian, but a year after the Phantom arrived at the yard, its destruction was reportedly monitored by a group officials. Twenty years later, a part that got away, XV404′s tail, made an appearance on eBay along with that of F-4J (UK) ZE351.