Clydeside Carnage: The Battered Remains of RAF Leuchars’ Phantom Fleet

phantom-f-4k-fg1-scrap-leuchars-glasgow (Image: Hugh McMillan, reproduced with permission)

Piled high in a similar manner to the notorious train pyramids at Vic Berry’s scrapyard, these battered Phantom FG.1 interceptors once formed the backbone of the UK’s air defence force. Operated by the Fleet Air Arm and later the RAF, the FG.1s (British designation for the F-4K) were based at RAF Leuchars in Scotland until 1989, when they were withdrawn from use.

f-4-phantom-fg1-bruggen-2 (Image: John Reid via Key Publishing, reproduced with permission)

Several FG.1s survived for a couple more years as ground instructional airframes at RAF Wattisham and elsewhere before being scrapped alongside the Phantom FGR.2 fleet. But the bulk of the Leuchars jets, like the ex-111 and 43 squadron machines pictured (top), were disposed of by John R. Adam & Sons scrapyard on Clydeside, Glasgow. The majority had been shredded by the summer of 1992. The Phantom FG.1 above, XV569, survived until 2000 at RAF Bruggen in Germany before finally succumbing to the scrapman.

phantom-xv582-black-mike (Image: Urban Ghosts)

Treaty obligations stipulate that Phantoms must be destroyed at the end of their military charge, and preserving UK examples has been extremely difficult and bureaucratic. Two Phantom FG.1s survive at Leuchars (now a Typhoon station), one on the main gate and another preserved within the station. But with the base set to close later this year, their fate hangs in the balance. One of them, known as Black Mike, is now the subject of a preservation effort by ex-military personnel and enthusiasts.

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