By: Michel Lozares
For 30 years, 58 Phantom II left their smoke trails in the Spanish sky.
40 F-4C, with the designation C.12 (serialed C.12-01 thru C.12-40) and 18 RF-4C with the designation CR.12 (serialed CR.12-41 thru CR.12-58), operated with the Ejército del Aire (EdA) between 1971 and 2002. All them were assigned to the Ala 12 based at Torrejón AB. This history is well known, so we aren’t going to use these lines for to talk about it.
The aircraft life isn’t just limited by her operational life. It began in the production plant and it finish when her last rivet has been smelted. Just a few can survive to the eternal fire alter once the mission for what them had been built accomplished.
This is our little history, our tribute, of one of these Spanish Phantoms that has had the privilege to be one of the first two Phantoms preserved as monument at a Spanish city.
Since the first F-4C were being withdrawn from front line in the EdA, their last “flight” of most of them was the moving to Bardenas Shooting Range (Zaragoza), where them were used as ground targets. Sad final, converted in strainers for those that replaced them. After this “mission”, useless inclusive to give shadow, the blowtorch put finish to these machines that saw for first time the sunlight over the St. Louis Mc Donnell Douglas Plant.
1 Phantoms finished their days in the Bardenas Range. A few of
24 Phantoms finished their days in the Bardenas Range. A handful are preserved in the Torrejon AB (Madrid) after to be withdrawal of use; two are preserved at static display in the Museo del Aire of Cuatro Vientos, Madrid; other one was relocated to Leon AB and four were donated to different places and institutions: FPAC, CASA Sevilla Factory, Torrejón de Ardoz city, Antiguedad village and the last one at private hands at Movera. The remainders eight, unless two (located in the INTA, Madrid, and Zaragoza AB), are stored in a Torrejón AB storage area and their end is quite close..
Seven aircrafts were lost in accidents.
Fortunately, this political to remove the aircraft to Bardenas Range has changed time ago and since then, some Phantoms have been removed from the “corrosion corner” for to be put on display as monuments in some cities or preserved by donation in private hands. Others planes that would have follow this way, sadly and due changes in the public administrations, are sleeping at Torrejón AB storage area yet.
|EdA Serial||USAF s/n||Display Location|
|C.12-01||64-0884||León AB. León|
|C.12-02||64-0900||Torrejon AB. Displayed as gate guardian on pole|
|C.12-19||64-0872||Torrejón AB. Displayed at Ala 12 Flight Line|
|C.12-26||64-0861||FPAC Foundation. Sabadell, Barcelona|
|C.12-31||64-0959||Torrejón AB. Displayed at Golf Club|
|C.12-33||64-0887||Getafe, Madrid. (Displayed on pole)|
|C.12-36||64-0864||INTA Platform, Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid|
|C.12-37||64-0820||Museo del Aire. Cuatro Vientos (Static display)|
|CR.12-42||65-0937||Museo del Aire. Cuatro Vientos (Static Display)|
|CR.12-45||64-1069||Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid. (Displayed on pole)|
|CR.12-46||64-1070||Torrejón AB. Ala 12 ABDR|
|CR.12-47||64-1083||Movera, Zaragoza. (Private Owner. Displayed on pole)|
|CR.12-48||65-0822||Antigüedad, Palencia. (Displayed on pole)|
|CR.12-51||65-0851||CASA Sevilla Factory. Sevilla|
|CR.12-54||64-1070||Torrejon AB. Displayed at the Base Installations|
|CR.12-55||65-0823||Torrejón AB. Displayed at Ala 12 Flight Line|
|CR.12-56||65-0864||Torrejon AB. Displayed at the Base Installations|
St. Louis, 22 December 1965.
Two General Electric J79-GE-15 rise up for first time the 64-0887, a F-4C Phantom II (McAir Ship No. 1296). In a few days, on 13 January 1966, it’s delivered to USAF and assigned to 81st TFW / 92nd TFS, RAF Bentwaters, UK.
Several times, while assigned to 81st TFW was on temporary duties in Wheelus AB, Libya.
For two times the fighter fly to CASA Getafe (Madrid) for periodic inspections and maintenance: 14 Oct – 3 Dec 1968 and 27 Apr – 2 Jul 1970.
May be, these flights to Spain marked his future…
His last visit to Spain was on 5 May 1972, where 887 remained in depot. After that it was withdrawn from use of USAF with 1832:50 flight hours on July 1972 and it was transferred to the EdA.
On 21 July 1972 it was delivered to the EdA. 64-0887 is serialed C.12-33 and assigned to the Escuadrón 121 (121st Squadron) of the Ala 12 (12th Wing) based at Torrejón AB.
The first assigned code carried in the fuselage was 121-17 (Squadron / Airplane number into the squadron).
Years later, his second and last code changed to 12-33 (Wing /Airplane number into the wing) on February 1987.
On 15 October 1987, their J79 shout off for last time, the last flight was completed. 64-0887 flew 3695:20 hours, 1862:30 with the EdA.
Finally, the plane is withdrawn from use on 20 February 1989.
After to be retired, 64-0887 was placed in storage at the Ala 12´s flight platform and later it was removed to the Torrejon AB´s “corrosion corner”.
Getafe (Madrid), a city with a larger aviation’s tradition. The Ala 35 (Transport Wing) is based in the close-up air base and CASA Factory (at the present Airbus) has his fittings at the suburbs.
Today some aircrafts are displayed as monuments in Getafe. The EdA donated on 2006 a fourth aircraft to the Getafe Council, a F-4C Phantom II. The elected aircraft to be removed of Torrejon AB storage was 64-0887.
Night of 23 December 2006. C.12-33 is lorried and moved to a private ground placed in an industrial area of Getafe. For five months it’s prepared for his last assignment. Finally, on 7 May 2007, 64-0887 is displayed on a pole in a roundabout in Getafe City.