Abandoned F-14 Tomcats & F-4 Phantom Dumped in Woods (VIDEO)

Last month, when a video was posted to YouTube revealing two abandoned F-14 Tomcats and an F-4 Phantom lying in a woodland clearing, aviation websites clamoured to uncover the whereabouts of the derelict Cold War jets. The uploaders withheld their location in a bid to prevent vandals from finishing off their rotting, empty hulks. But also because a find like this is rare; the US is home to many decommissioned military jets in various states of repair, but stumbling across something as iconic as a supersonic F-14 Tomcat fighter abandoned to the elements is a holy grail for aviation fans, albeit a sad one.

The video reveals at least two dumped US Navy Grumman F-14s alongside the carcass of a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The abandoned jets have been completely stripped, their powerful engines removed and skeletal cockpit control panels devoid of switches and instruments. Wings and stabilisers lie in the grass nearby. Missing panels reveal empty avionics bays. Beyond hulks, there’s little left of the once-formidable fighters. The trees that twist through their hollow fuselages suggest they’ve been largely undisturbed for years.

(Image: Screenshot via YouTube/ErikJohnston)

What makes the discovery more interesting (other than their leading role in the 1980s hit movie “Top Gun”) is the fact that surviving F-14s were mostly destroyed in order to stop their parts from passing to Iran after their retirement in 2006. The Western Asian country purchased a number of early model Tomcats in the 1970s before the Iranian Revolution. So concerned was the US Department of Defense – in a move branded “more symbolic than practical” – that F-14 parts didn’t fall into the hands of Iranian agents that it ordered all remaining examples of the US Navy jet to be shredded (the exceptions being those on military bases and in aviation museums, many of which are now little more than empty shells).

Popular Mechanics speculated that the older F-4 Phantom seen in the video was an ex-US Marine Corps F-4N, BuNo 152267. If so, it was previously preserved as a gate guardian at Naval Air Station Dallas, which closed as a military base in December 1998. The same Phantom is pictured here in service with the US Navy.

(Image: Screenshot via YouTube/ErikJohnston)

If the Phantom in the video is indeed 152267, its airframe may have been lying derelict for almost 20 years. One discussion board claims that 152267 had left Dallas by 1999 bound for Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, but never arrived. Despite some differences, including the faded ant-glare panel forward of the cockpit, the wreck in the video bears the same markings as F-4 152267 while on display at NAS Dallas (see here).

If the two abandoned F-14 Tomcats were dumped at the same time (eight years before the the F-14 fleet was finally withdrawn from service), they would likely have been stripped of useful parts and thoroughly demilitarised before being disposed of. The aircraft all lie in woodland near a large metal recycling yard. But the identity of the abandoned F-14s remains a mystery.

Related: 21 Abandoned Airplane Graveyards (Where Aviation History Goes to Die)

 
 


 
 
 

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