In the F-4 Phantom II, can the pilot in the front seat control the weaponry as well, or do they only fly the aircraft?

And can the weapons officer in the back fly the aircraft in emergencies, e.g. if the pilot is unconscious?


2 Answers 2


Can the pilot in the front seat control the weaponry as well, or do they only fly the aircraft?

Yes, the pilot in the front could control all weapons.

And can the weapons officer in the back fly in emergencies, like, pilot is unconscious or something?

This is more complicated. The USAF F-4's did not have controls for the RIO's (now called WSO's), but the Navy/Marine F-4's did.

  • $\begingroup$ The Navy's flight controls were limited, with no control of flaps, and no afterburner. Gear could only be extended using an emergency bottle. So it wasn't ideal. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 18:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ My guess is that in the event of an incapacitated pilot the Navy WSO would use their controls to get somewhere near the carrier (or nearby land) and then eject. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ Have you source ,is it knowledge? $\endgroup$
    – L'aviateur
    Commented Apr 12, 2020 at 13:40
  • $\begingroup$ WRONG, About rear cockpit flight controls, you have it backwards. The USAF F-4s back seat did in fact have full set of flight controls. I'm not sure about all Navy Phantoms, but every one I saw did NOT have flight controls in the rear cockpit,. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 2:13
  • $\begingroup$ Do you know why some had them and some didn't? $\endgroup$
    – J Lopez
    Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 2:50

The backseater in the Navy/Marine Phantoms had no way to fly the aircraft. The Air Force Phantoms could be flown from the rear seat. No insult to the Navy, but the guy in the back on USAF Phantoms was far better trained in flying than his Navy counterpart. It wasn't neglect on the Navy's part, but where it recruited it's rear seat people. Most were enlisted or Warrant Officer people who had been in the Navy working on radar and communications systems. For some time, the Navy's rear seaters included enlisted personnel as well as Warrant Officers. I forget the year, but during Vietnam the Navy made an effort to commission its backseat folks... no more enlisted, but there were still a few warrant officers riding in the rear. The Air Force never used enlisted rear seaters, and didn't have warrant officers (although it has the same authority to create them, it has not made a warrant officer since the 1950's --- I only saw one during Vietnam). So, both seats in the USAF aircraft were and are commissioned officers. It's the same plane, but different ideas depending on the service. Oddly, the USAF Phantom couldn't refuel from a Navy tanker, or vice-versa. The Navy used a free-flopping female fuel drogue, while the Air Force used a male one, AND a boom operator to steer the thing into the plane's female refueling port. Go figure!


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