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Brian J

Seeking advice on F-4B 'Showtime 602' or was it 'Showtime

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I'm having a hard time letting this go and hope someone can point me in a new direction (and I don't mean the door). I posted this question earlier this week on 'Jets' on this site and failed to get a definitive response so thought maybe this would a better place to continue my search.

It has to do with the conflicting information as to the call sign of the VF-96 F-4B, BuNo 151403 crewed by Lt(jg) Terry Murphy and Ens Ronald Fegan that was lost on 9 April 1965. As I indicated in my original post, several references state it was 611 while others suggest 602.

Does anybody know where or who I might contact (a government agency or U.S. Navy source or author) who can answer my question. I've thought about 'The Hook' but haven't subscribed to it for years and don't know if they'd be willing to help. I know, I know, give them a shout...which I might do if nothing turns up here.

Any constructive advice would be appreciated.

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Try www.ACIG.org It's a web site dedicated to air combat and there are pretty comprehensive records of the air to air victories/losses of the American and No. Vietnamese.

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J.Baugher's site offers only this;

151403 of VF-96 flown by Lt JG Terence Murphy and Ensign Ronald Fegan shot down Chinese MiG-17 near Hainan Island April 9, 1965, then lost in action due to gunfire from PLAAF J-5 or perhaps due to fratricide.

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Thanks to the gentlemen who have taken the time to respond. As I mentioned earlier, I'm becoming consumed with finding out the definitive answer and as I continue my search I continue to get more conflicting responses. Called the Tailhook Association and was told that NG611 was their best guess. Checked the ACIG site and they list BuNo 151403 as NG602. Then checked www.ejection-history.org and they list the a/c as NG602. Then checked aviation-safety.net and they list the a/c "Showtime 611."

S-o-o, the deeper I dig the more conflicting responses I get! What I would like to know is where these various authors and sources are getting their information? As I indicated on another post, there is a photo on page 8 of the Osprey Combat Aircraft #26 'US Navy F-4 Phantom II MiG Killers 1965-70' that shows BuNo 151403 as NG611, taken in January of 1965. Apparently it was not usual for aircraft to change call signs during a cruise which could possibly explain the difference in call signs. Some sources are referring to the original number when the cruise started, while other sources refer to updated data.

Would anybody know the e-mail addresses of the following authors:

Michael O'Conner (author of 'MiG Killers of Yankee Station')

Peter Davies (author of 'US Navy F-4 Phantom II MiG Killers 1965-70')

Rene J Francillon (author of 'Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club')

Barrett Tillman might know where to look. Anyone know his e-mail address?

Maybe those authors could help clarify the issue.

Edited by Brian J.

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One thing that might be of help to you is a little tidbit about the remodexing back then.

It was common to number the aircraft according to age or condition. The CO would get the newest jet, then on back in age of the airframe to the squadron spare.

When replacements came in, the jets could be renumbered, "bumping" the older jets down into a higher Modex spot.

If VF-96 practiced this, then a number 602 would be seen on a jet for a while,,,,,,then a higher number, such as 611,,,,,,,but, a 611 wouldn't be renumbered into a newer jet's slot later on,,,,,,the numbers would only go up, unless there was some event involving a unit getting older jets as the replacements,,,,,,,such as that famous photo of Marine jets mixed in with the two Navy squadrons on a CV deck after a Marine deployment ended

So, it is very possible that your jet was modexed as 611 on the day it was lost,,,,,and less likely that it was 602 on the loss date (the 602 could have come from someone that has a list of what aircraft embarked on the cruise at the beginning),,,,,one way to figure out if this might have happened is to find the BuNos of the aircraft that VF-96 received as replacements,,,,and see if some were newer than your jet

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Continued thanks to those who have responded to my original post. 'Rex' added very informative information as to how and why call signs were changed. I'd like to share my most recent findings.

I was able to contact the respected author, Barrett Tillman, but he was unable to help as was the archivist at the San Diego Air-Space Museum. Don't know why it took so long to dawn on me, but after much gazing off into the sunset with a thousand yard stare I recalled an article in an old 'The Hook' quarterly that had a history of VF-96. I dragged out my 25 year collection of 'The Hook' back issues and began to pour over them. I'll be damned...the Summer and Fall 1990 issues had a two part detailed history of VF-96 by Mike Weeks!

On pages 33 and 34 I found the FIRST source that includes the statement that indeed, BuNo151403 had carried BOTH call signs of 611 and 602! I'll quote the following passages for those who are interested. On page 33, we read, "Following the rescue of Greer and Bruning, Terry Murphy/ENS Ronald J. Fegan, in SHOWTIME 602 (my emphasis), launched as section leader and headed northward..."

On page 34 the author continues, "The released statement on the loss of SHOWTIME 602 (my emphasis) states that probably Murphy and Fegan were downed at slow speed by one of the MiG-17s."

Finally, on page 34 that often reproduced inflight photo of 3 aircraft from VF-96 in included with the following photo caption. "...On that day LTJG Terry Murphy and RIO ENS Ron Fegan in Showtime 602 (seen here as 611) failed to return to Ranger after a high altitude battle..."

I am going to send the above information to Doug Siegfried at 'The Hook' and Barrett Tillman to see if they can add comments on that article. I am encouraged to see that at the end of this second part, the author gives acknowledgement to at least ten or twelve members of VF-96, most of whom I presume served during the mid-60's to the disestablishment of VF-96 on 1 November 1975.

Again, I invite interested readers to add comments or opinions on this subject.

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Continued thanks to those who have responded to my original post. 'Rex' added very informative information as to how and why call signs were changed. I'd like to share my most recent findings.

I was able to contact the respected author, Barrett Tillman, but he was unable to help as was the archivist at the San Diego Air-Space Museum. Don't know why it took so long to dawn on me, but after much gazing off into the sunset with a thousand yard stare I recalled an article in an old 'The Hook' quarterly that had a history of VF-96. I dragged out my 25 year collection of 'The Hook' back issues and began to pour over them. I'll be damned...the Summer and Fall 1990 issues had a two part detailed history of VF-96 by Mike Weeks!

On pages 33 and 34 I found the FIRST source that includes the statement that indeed, BuNo151403 had carried BOTH call signs of 611 and 602! I'll quote the following passages for those who are interested. On page 33, we read, "Following the rescue of Greer and Bruning, Terry Murphy/ENS Ronald J. Fegan, in SHOWTIME 602 (my emphasis), launched as section leader and headed northward..."

On page 34 the author continues, "The released statement on the loss of SHOWTIME 602 (my emphasis) states that probably Murphy and Fegan were downed at slow speed by one of the MiG-17s."

Finally, on page 34 that often reproduced inflight photo of 3 aircraft from VF-96 in included with the following photo caption. "...On that day LTJG Terry Murphy and RIO ENS Ron Fegan in Showtime 602 (seen here as 611) failed to return to Ranger after a high altitude battle..."

I am going to send the above information to Doug Siegfried at 'The Hook' and Barrett Tillman to see if they can add comments on that article. I am encouraged to see that at the end of this second part, the author gives acknowledgement to at least ten or twelve members of VF-96, most of whom I presume served during the mid-60's to the disestablishment of VF-96 on 1 November 1975.

Again, I invite interested readers to add comments or opinions on this subject.

Now that's what's called doing your research, folks. Great work!

Ray

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