(All images by Alan Allen, reproduced with permission)
To aviation enthusiasts, RAF Wattisham was at the centre of the UK’s F-4 Phantom force until the type’s retirement in 1992. And while the ‘Phantom graveyard’ is now long gone, these images are a lasting reminder of the fleet‘s final days and will resonate with those who witnessed them.
Shown parked in a neglected corner of the Suffolk air base, fighter aircraft that had been lovingly cared for for over two decades have been struck from the RAF inventory, spares-recovered and unceremoniously towed onto Wattisham’s scrapping area.
The hardened aircraft shelters that housed the jets for years from the elements and potential Soviet air strikes stand empty nearby.
Among the F-4s that spent their final weeks on the Wattisham dump was XV404, wearing the most striking paint scheme ever to adorn a UK Phantom. Despite efforts to save the airframe, it too fell foul of Cold War arms treaties and was reduced to scrap a year later – read the full story here.
Now operated as Wattisham Airfield by the British Army, the former RAF Wattisham’s front line air defense duties ceased in 1992 with the disbandment of 74 Squadron, the last F-4 Phantom unit of the Royal Air Force, operating the FGR.2 and F-4J (UK) variants of the jet.