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With the release of CARACALs models Test & Drone decal sheet, 1/48 & 1/72 F-104 "Test & Drone Zippers", the modeler is confronted with the question of what seat to do?  


CARACAL has released a sheet with 17 subject, mostly drones, but also two NAVY F-104A’s, along with some NACA/NASA birds.  While the sheet will be well received, it does leave the modeler who cares in a quandary.  


The problem with figuring out which seat to use is based on the “Ejectionsite” anything after 56-0861 would have had a C-2 seat.  But the problem with those figures is the F-104B and D had C-1 downward seats based on TO 1F-104A-1 dated 1 August 1960.

The TO indicates the following.

F-104A(1) 55-2955 to 56-0747 was equipped with B-2, C, C-1 or C-2 seats.

F-104A 56-0748 – 0882 was equipped with C-1 or C-2 seats.

F-104C 56-0883 – 57-0930 was equipped with C-1 or C-2 seats.

F-104B 56-3720 56-3724, 57-1294 – 57-1313 was equipped with C-1 or C-2 seats.

F-104D 57-1314 – 57-1334 was equipped with C-1 or C-2 seats.


The problem with what “Ejectinsite” indicates and the aircraft in the field is the Air Force retrofitted newer seats into the airframes.  It’s not beyond the realm of possibility the aircraft started with a B/B-2 seat and was retrofitted with a C/C-1.  One problem with the seat production numbers cited on “Ejectionsite” is the F-104B/D production numbers is outside of speculated 100 or so C-1 figures.


TO 1F-104A(1)-1 1 August 1960 indicates the following:

Model B-2 Installed in AF 55-2955 – 55-2971

Model C installed in AF 56-0730 – 56-0747

Model C-1 installed in AF 56-0748 and subsequent


It’s possible the Stanley/Lockheed 551 seat was also identified as the  “B”.  But I have no definitive information on it.


The following information is based on production numbers found on the Ejectionsite.com

It is likely that 56-861 was the first F-104A equipped with an upward C-2 seat.


It’s interesting that Lockheed was working on an open supersonic seat for the F-104, that has been referred to as the skip flow seat. 

Vought was also working on an open supersonic seat for the Crusader.


They were also working with Stanley for a nose capsule for the F-104.


The F-104 during its career had 7 seat types/sub-types in the cockpit.  The first prototype had a downward Stanley/Lockheed Model 551 seat.  The unit is similar to the seats deployed for the NAV/bombardier in the B-47E with yellow lollypop thigh guards.  The seat offered a relatively mild 9 G ride, but in the wrong direction.  The early seats had to be activated at least around 2000’ for “normal” ejections.  “Emergency” situations reduced to around 600’.  The initial downward seats were utilized as there was a great deal of concern about tail clearance at high speed.  The USAF standard 40” catapult worked well at low speeds, not so much at higher speeds.

Tony Levier was flying the XF-104A when the lower hatch dropped of during a gun firing.  He said “it was a bit windy…”

With reasonably good photographs it’s easy to tell if it’s a downward or upward seat.  The downward seats had an open area behind the pilots head rest, if the canopy is closed, a canopy brace was in the open area behind the head rest.  The upward seats and a full headbox, and the canopy brace was moved aft.  In the Air Forces fashion, the pilot got into the aircraft wearing his chute.



The prototypes built in 1955 and next 26 production airframes had B or B-2 seats.   It was distinctive from later C-1 downward seats in that the head rest was more pronounced with a recess for the helmet.  The foot guards is also interesting in that early B/B-2 seats had pressure plates in the footwell.  When the pilot moved his ankles onto the foot bar his ankles triggered the “ankle clamp tripper plate”, and the ankle clamps secured the pilot’s foot.  This was also used on the XF-104A seat.


Color-wise the seat frame was Dark Gull Grey.

Arm flail webbing and seat belts Sage Grey, that fade to off white.  Hardest pad red. 

Seat rigid survival kit pad Olive Drab.  Survival kit’s on the B-2 it’s self is a bit of a challenge as I have never seen a photograph of the survival kit.  On the C-2 In some photographs it looks like FS34108 to FS34138

“Ejection Ring”, Survival kit release and manual cable cut ring on the head rest is yellow.


Few clear photos exist of the B-2 seat, but illustrations can be found in early pilot TO -1’s.  The only ID feature is the tail No of the aircraft.

1-XF-104A_Stanley_Model 551_Seat_thisdayinaviation.jpg






Edited by BWDenver
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Posted (edited)

F-104 c & C-2 seats



The Stanley C seat had a headrest similar to the B-2, but with the addition of foot retraction spur’s and ankle pads. See the picture.  Ankle and head box pads were red.


Another Stanley seat.  Stanley built an enormous experience with downward seats, and their downward seats were used in a number of 50’s/60’s aircraft.  The C-1 was designed to eject the pilot downward.  The key to identifying the C-1 seat was a headrest with a shallow area for the pilots helmet.  Colors are similar to the B/B-2 seat.




The Navy BuOrd developed the RAPEC rocket for use in the A4D/A-4 series of aircraft.  For the Airforce it was a God send for the F-104A, especially after famed test pilot Iven Kincheloe ejected to his death in F-104A 56-0772 on a C-1 seat.   The USAF designation for the Rocket Catapult is the XM10E1 rocket catapult.  The C-2 was tested extensively in mid 1959 to early 1960.


The RAPEC rocket would propel a pilot to 200’ from a o-o ejection.  Lighter pilots could expect a bit higher ride…


Overall colors were similar to the C-1 seats, with the exception of the various handles being painted in yellow and black.  However, on the F-104C 56-0914 at Wright-Patt, the flip out flail guards are painted red.  Foot ramps were added to the upward seats to guide the pilot’s foot into the ejection position via the spurs.


Some C-2 seats had canopy breakers.







6-Emergency access C-1_F-104D_Sm.jpg


The following shots are actually of a Lockheed SR-2 seat.  The tell tail is the white cover behind the canopy breaker.  the SR-2 seat was more widely used in the US than previously thought.






Inside the headrest of a C-2 seat is the gas actuator.  The yellow tubing is the lead for gases to ignite the ROCAT.C-2_Rotary-Actuator_CAT_head-gigapixel-hq-scale-2_00x.jpg

Edited by BWDenver
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Posted (edited)

Export MAP F-104 AC aircraft



The C-2 was updated with better sequencing and a 78" drogue chute that deployed from a modified headbox.  The primary ID key is the white drogue cover and a triangular area on the headbox that outlines the drogue container.  Initially the SR-2 seats lacked the Deployment-gun Arming Cable Connector, item 11 on the S/R-2 diagram.  It appears the S/R-2 seats were sold via the MAP program to overseas customers.  the SR-2 seat was also used in US F-104C aircraft and was more widespread that originally thought.  The accompanying photographs were taken by me in Montgomery AL and are from Jordanian aircraft. 


It appears some of the trainers had canopy breakers on the front seats that protruded around 3.4” above the headbox.




Two indicators of the SR-2 seat are the white drogue cover and the triangular area at the top of the headbox.  It outlines the drogue compartment.




F-104G NASA with SR-2 seat, as indicated by the white cover on the drogue box.






F-104C on display at Wright-Patt in Dayton OH, with early SR-2, lacking the Deployment-gun Arming Cable Connector



F-104C on display at Wings Over the Rockies in Denver, with the Deployment-gun Arming Cable Connector.  Note the triangular area on the back of the headbox outlining the drogue chute container.


Edited by BWDenver
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Posted (edited)

NATO F-104’s


The Germans had a less than thrilling experience with the F-104G.  Eric Hartman objected to the purchase of the F-104, but the Germans felt they were the first to fly jets in combat, and they were the perfect folks to fly this “missile with a man in it”.  Hartman’s objections cost him his career with the Luftwaffe.  They ended up planting F-104’s all over Germany.  Some felt the problem of ejecting form the F-104G was the C-2 seat, in Sir Martin Baker’s biography a great deal of disparaging comments were given covering the C-2.  Of interest, the US pilots did not have similar experiences with the C-2 seat.


Martin-Balker produced 15 Mk.Q5 seats in 1060 for testing and the first 4 F-104G AC had Mk.GQ5 seats.   The headrest was slightly different than the eventual headers on the Mk.DQ7 seat.  Today there is only one Mk.Q5 seat in existence, and in a private collection in German.


Martin-Baker went on to develop a rocket seat for the F-104G, named the Mk.DQ7 for German use.


The seat pan rocket offered a 15G ride combined with the standard Martin Baker 3 charge sequential gun on the seatback.  When the seat rose to around 17” a lanyard was pulled and the seat pan rocket fired.  Chute was stored in a rigid container on the seat and the drogue was in the head box area. 


The Germans underwent qualification in the F-104G at Luke AFB in Arizona, and their aircraft, while in US livery, were German birds, with DQ7 seats.


The DQ7 differed from the C-2 (and USAF seats) with regards to buckling into the seat.  US pilots wore a harness and simply connected two shoulder harness Koch fittings.  Instead of spurs the Martin Baker seats utilize leg garters that slipped over the pilot’s lower and upper leg and are connected to the aircraft floor via nylon webs.  There is a shear ping on the lower end to disconnect from the aircraft.  Line art on the DQ7 is from:  AER. 1F-104(T)GM-1 - Flight Manual - TF-104G-M (01-12-1996).  Line art on the harness is from AER. 1F-104(S)ASAM-1 - Flight Manual - F-104S & ASA-M (01-12-1966)








Mk.DQ7 Early headbox, via ejectionsite.com.  This is also the general configuration of the Mk.Q5 seats that were installed in the first 4 F-104G aircraft.  Note the rocket tubes are a light blue VS the normal white.





Mk.DQ7 headbox on the late version, Via ejectionsite.com


Edited by BWDenver
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Great work there!!


My upcoming A (Early) and B/D (Early) sets will include a normal, operational C-1 seat, trying to incorporate information from various Lockheed manuals as well as (scarse) photos.

It may not be 100% match to one of the various design iterations but we tried our best...





Of course these will come with dedicated ejection rail, bulkhead and canopy de-mister tubing parts as well.



Edited by JeffreyK
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Thats fantastic work!  


The 55 contract year birds all had B-2 seats.  Different head rest and no retraction system.  not sure if it's worth a separate seat, or maybe include both in one offering.  


These shots are from Wings Over The Rockies and a Stanley seat.  They have a number of Stanley seats, including the A-1 and T-28 and the only surviving P6M Seamaster seat.




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Posted (edited)

These should have gone along with the DQ7 seat info (via Martin Baker), should anyone want scratch one…


Like Hypersonic.....


Hint hint hint....








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1 hour ago, JeffreyK said:

Great work there!!


My upcoming A (Early) and B/D (Early) sets will include a normal, operational C-1 seat, trying to incorporate information from various Lockheed manuals as well as (scarse) photos.

It may not be 100% match to one of the various design iterations but we tried our best...





Of course these will come with dedicated ejection rail, bulkhead and canopy de-mister tubing parts as well.



Here's a view with some Dims.  The dims are based on a Boeing report on AC escape systems.  Hopefully it might help if you want to do an S/R-2 the dims are likely similar to the C-1.


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Wow, thank you for all this info! Who would have thought that all this info is actually out there.

That foam block (in place of a chute pack) on the B-2 seat is a bit distracting, I guess behind it's the same as the later type, which we will offer?



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Some interesting background information there and some nice photos of the early seats! Thanks for sharing them.


The Lockheed C-2 seat is an interesting part of my collection. Never imagined that I will have one but in the end somehow found five of them which include 3 different verisons. One is from a single seat German Starfighter, there are both front and back seats from the two seater and also an early version which has several things different from all the others. 


Here is one of them on my stand at an international air show back in 2010. Appropriate parachute pack added, spurs on boots . . .


Best regards


show 4.jpg

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Just for balance here is one of my MiG-15 seats from a show exactly a week ago at a model show at Szolnok AFB on Saturday. This seat has far more in common with the Lockheed / Stanley C-2 seat and German originals than most would imagine! Have written several articles about this in the past years.


Best regards


Szolnok 27 seat.jpg

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Luftwaffe over the US


A bit better shot of F-104G 63-13269 I took this shot ate Peterson AFB in the Colorado Springs, the bird is based at Luke, where the Germans trained.  The shot was taken in the late 70's.  I have another shot of this bird taken by a great AC Photog, Donal S McGarry.  The shot dates from 10-22-82, the makings have been toned down a bit, the nose gear doors are nat. metal, and the black shadowing on "The fighting 69th" has been removed.


As I have not been able to reestablish contact with Don, I'm reluctant to publish one of his shots WO permission.


The ramp shot was taken at Luke AFB in late 1979.  I was flying an OH-58A on convoy cover from Ft Carson CO to Ft Irwin CA.  I ran into a bit of bad WX at Santa Fe NM.  I actually had to land in somebody's back yard as I could not see because of a snow squall.  With more bad WX in the offering along the path to S CAL, I had to split off from the convoy and took the southern course via Demming NM, Luke AFB and into CA.  I picked up wingman in Santa Fe, a CAPT, in another OH-58A that went along with me.  As we entered into the Phoenix area, he radioed me that he was "now on the map".  I found out when we got to Luke, that he had been tagging along with no idea of where he was as he did not have charts for the entire two-day flight!


In any event, a US marked F-104 with a Martin Baker Mk.DQ7 seat will likely start an argument from the 'experts"!  Now if someone would do a "nice" Mk.DQ7 seat....  AIRES has an F-104G cockpit with a "MB GQ7A" seat....


Martin-Baker built the following for F-104/TF-104's:  DQ7, DQ7A, (Denmark) GQ7, GQ7A (Germany), IQ7A (Italy) and HQ7A Greece.  


The attached color info is from Martin-Baler, BW shot via Martin-Baker.


Not entirely sure what the "Q7A" seat is.  In Martin-Baker speak, the first letter is the county, second the aircraft, third major model No. and 4th upgrade.  All "7" seats are rocket seats.









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1 hour ago, ya-gabor said:

Some interesting background information there and some nice photos of the early seats! Thanks for sharing them.


The Lockheed C-2 seat is an interesting part of my collection. Never imagined that I will have one but in the end somehow found five of them which include 3 different verisons. One is from a single seat German Starfighter, there are both front and back seats from the two seater and also an early version which has several things different from all the others. 


Here is one of them on my stand at an international air show back in 2010. Appropriate parachute pack added, spurs on boots . . .


Best regards



Very nice.  I hope this thread takes off with other information on Seats!



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Posted (edited)

For those interested in modeling the F-16 seat…


The production A-10, F-16 and F-15 started out with ESCAPAC IE-9 (A-10A), IH-8 (YF-16A – F-16A/B), and IG-7 (F-15A/TF-15A), Based on ESCAPAC docs I have.  On a side note, the A-10A started out with a seat from an F-105D.


The IE-9 & IH-9 seats were slightly different than other ESCAPAC seats.  The thigh guards were canted out slightly, around 2” on each side.  While the IE-9 seats had canopy breakers, the AF was generally was loath to send a crew member through a canopy, but the low altitude mission of the A-10 made it a necessity.  In any event the F-16A canopy was not suitable for the use of breakers, and the IH-9 seat did not have them.  The primary difference between the IE-9 and IH-9 seats was lack of breakers.  The A-10 and two seat F-15’s did have them.


The gallows humor of the time in the seat community was the Air Force didn’t mind killing a pilot, they just didn’t want to hurt him.  The Navy routinely sent crew members through canopies as it reduced the ejection sequence time to a full canopy.   This sometimes resulted in scrapes and cuts.  Douglas also incorporated a ballistic spreader that was essentially an instant open device at line stretch.  I’ve talked to one AF Crew Station manager at Wright-Patt who tried to get the spreaders removed.  He was also a proponent of removing the Martin-Baker seats from the Air Force F-4.


This position changed when Boeing started working on the CREST seat.  The seat would have been capable of saving the crewmember if he ejected at any speed and angle down to around 150 or so feet.  Under the worst case, the pilot would fire the seat and ignite around 67 Lb of rocket propellant.  Normally only around 15 Lb. or rocket propellant is in a rocket seat.  While he may live, he likely would never walk again.  The CREST program ended in favor of the ACES II.


For the F-16, I have documents that indicate A) the seat rails were installed at 37 degrees, and B) the seat is reclined at 30 degrees (from vertical) and C) the “rail angle” was 55.5 degrees.  The rail angle for the F-15/A-10 is 73 degrees (from horizontal).  The difference between rail angle and “pilot” angel is the headbox and chute pack.  The idea behind it was to allow the pilot to take a higher G’s in maneuvering.  I’ve talked to several F-16 pilots, that indicated it also added to neck and lower back issues later in life.


The YF-16A first prototypes, 72-1567/1568, likely flew with a seat similar to the ESCAPAC IG-3.  The initial seats had a face curtain and a separation rocket.


The YF-16A AKA the FSD, 75-0745/0750, and possibly 75-0751/0752, aircraft were delivered with Stencel SIIIS-F16 seats.  The SIIS-3F16 was similar to the seat installed in the German Alpha jet and the replacement seats for the AV-8A’s.


The Stencel seat included a number of advancements over seats of the day.  And likely would have been a good seat in the F-16, except the Air force was looking at the performance of the ACES-2 seat and elected to make it the new Air Force Standard seat.


The ESCAPAC IH-9 seat qualification test for the YF-16A took place between 23 Aug 1973 and 15 Jan 1974.  A total of 7 sled runs were conducted at Holloman AFB with speeds ranging between 0-0 and 0-600 KEAS.  Two runs were for crew members at the 5th (small) percentile and the rest were for 95th (large) percentile crewmen.  The seat frames weighed in at 58 Lbs, ballistics, survival kit and parachutes added another 77 Lbs.  One of the “ballistics” is a seat/man separator rocket that reduced the chances of seat crew impact after separation.  The production F-16B IH-9 seats would have had a yaw rocket installed that separates the two crew laterally.


While the Douglas report I have indicated the IH-9 seats underwent testing for the YF-16A in 1973, it would appear they actually never installed them in production F-16’s.  The Air Force decided to standardize the ACES 2 between the test date and the first production of the production F-16A.  I indicate the “ACES 2” because that was the early designation, and I have a shot of an F-16 mockup with the ACES 2 seat in it.  Sometime between the initial testing of the ACES 2 to the production contract Douglas redesignated it as the ACES II.


The ACES II is a very capable seat, the shot of the bird in the sand was after the pilot ejected at or below 50" after running the bird out of gas near White Sands NM.














F-16_ACES II Fixed Pitots.jpg

F-16_ACES II Flip-up Pitots.jpg

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One of the earliest documents I have on the Advanced concept Ejection Seat, ACES-2 I was MDC-J4193A, dated 7 March 1973.  If differs from the current ACES II seats, in that the leg guards are similar to the ESCAPAC.  The completion of the tests was early 1973.   The initial configuration seat weighed in at 136.2 Lbs.  It took a few more years for the ACES II seat to get into cockpits.


And Air force PR doc indicates the first ACES II to fly was in an A-10A in May 1978.  But this is somewhat at odds as other documents indicate the first A-10 to fly with the ACES II was 79-0173.  And retrofitted into A-10’s produced before.  The contract that generated the seats for the A-10 was awarded in 1976.


Webber was qualified and selected as a “follower” in 1979, and began producing seats in 1980 when Douglas awarded them a contract for 120 seats for the F-16.






ACES II A-10C.jpg


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F-15A 73-085 – 76-0120 before TO 1F-15A-843

F-15B 37-108 – 76-0142  before TO 1F-15B-509



F-15A 73-085 – 76 -0120 after TO 1F-15A-843, 77-0061

F-15B 37-108 – 76-0142  before TO 1F-15B-509, 77-0154 and up


The early ACES 2 seat photo I have was labeled as an F-15 seat, but I can’t find any information this configuration seat ever flew.  The early F-15’s did fly with the ESCAPAC IC-9 seats.  It would appear between the early tests with the ACES 2, and the final flight ACES II configuration the let guards changed.








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The Douglas ACES II seat was initially a test article and showed significant advancements over the Douglas ESCAPAC seat.  The first effort was the ESCAPAC II, followed by an Early configuration of the ACES 2.  The Air Force elected to replace the F-15, F-16 and A-10 seats with the (final designation) ACES II.  The Navy elected to take a pass.  Some seat folks I talked to at Chanute AFB indicate the initial ACES II seats were a bear to maintain as they were essentially a “test design” and not designed to go into aircraft and be routinely maintained.  The primary difference on the seat pan between the F-16 & F-15/A-10 seat was a notch on the F-16 seat.  For the F-15 the incorporation of the ACES II seat was TCTO No. 1F-15-502, late 1979.  Unfortunately TO 1F-15A-2-00GV-00-1 does not list a date for the TCTO.  Presumably the A-10 was also modified around this time frame.  With the A-10’s, AC 79-0173 was delivered with the ACES II.


The ACES II seats were made by Douglas and Webber in a leader follower contract.  Presently the current state of the art seat is the Collins ACES 5, made here in the Springs.  The current addition of female crew required some tweaking to the seats as some female crew fell outside of design envelope range due to height differences. 


Colorado has a long history of ejection seat manufacturers.  With Stanley in Denver, and AMI,  Aircraft Mechanics Inc., in Colorado Springs.  And Collins is also based her in the Springs.




ACES 5.jpg




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A-6C 155688 TRIM, rare bird, during the Viet Nam conflict the Navy built 12 specialized night interdiction birds starting with its favorite Tadpole, the A-6A. In this case the testing at China Lake, with VX-5. 
If you look up the Wiki you can see a shot of A-6C 155660, they may have built the A-6C airframes in sequential numbers. 
Tailhook Topics also has an article on the TRIM aircraft, to include cockpit info, with another BuNo. 155684:   Tailhook Topics: Grumman A-6C TRIM (tailspintopics.blogspot.com)
They spent a lot of time over the Ho Chi Minn trail busting trucks. Needless to say, the addition to the belly killed performance. All the birds were eventually upgraded to A-6E's.  A 1/48 conversion kit is available.
Can't help with the cockpit, but they very likely had Martin-Baker Mk.GRU5 seats. The Mk.H7, & F7 seats stated being installed in mid 1968. The A-6E that flew in 1972 had Mk.GRU7 seats. Hoverer, as late as 1972 the EA-6B had GRU5 seats.
The A-6E was the first Tadpole with Mk.GRU7 seats, eventually the EA-6B birds got Mk.GRUEA7 seats.
Color shot is via Ray Wilhite and the National Museum of Naval Aviation.
BW Photos of the seats are via Martin-Baker & USN for the sled tests for the Family model, EA-6B "Station wagon".








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10 minutes ago, RichB63 said:

@BWDenver, great info!

Regarding GRU-5 seats, they were still installed in some Electric Intruders as late as 1977, as this photo by Stephen Miller shows…




Yikes!  Never realized it the GRU5's stuck around that long.


Thats 10 years after they started upgrading the Phantoms!  Admittedly the Eletric Tadpoles didn't get that low, but they still had to come aboard the carriers.


They started installing RAPEC rockets into A4D's (A-4's) in 61/61.


And BTW, Stephen is a GREAT shooter!





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F4H-1, F-4 Ejection seats.  Admittedly this topic should have it’s own forum section, but….


I’ve been somewhat hesitant to drop this article as there is likely someone who is going to scream: You forgot the reverse underwater wiferdill model!!!!


Are a few points missing, absolutely.  But this is likely going to be the most comprehensive article on Martin-Baker Mk.H5 seats for all users.


For the modeler this is likely not a major point, but it is if you want to do a truly accurate cockpit.  A fair number of aftermarket companies offer “Phantom” seats, but they take a one size fits all approach.  A Mk.H5 is a Mk.H5, same for the Mk.H7.  But there are two different major lines of produced & upgrades, the Mk.H5/H7 and the Mk.H5AF/H7AF.  And they are definitely not the same.  Eduard appears to have gotten it right with their Navy v USAF seats, burt only have done the H7 Rocket seats.   But some others that have a one seat fits all approach are likely to give you a Mk.H5/H7 for the Mk.H5AF/7AF seat.  While the deference between the two are small, they do tend to stick out once you know what to look for.  Another example, the AEROBONUS  Mk.H7 seat is really a Mk.H7AF…  It's likely the aftermarket companies simply were unaware that there is a difference between the two seats.  I have a T.O. -1 for an RF-4C, and it even has pictures of the Navy Mk.H7 seat while listing it as a Mk.H7AF!  When buying an aftermarket seat, take a good look at it and buyer beware…


The first seat in the Phantom II was a joint seat by McDonnell/Stanely.  Although I have not found specific information what parts were made by McDonnell  and what parts were by Stanely.  The attached shots are from McDonnell.  It was installed in the first 10 airframe and was in the aircraft for a number of records.


Stanley proposed their own seat that looked a lot like the Vought seat, which in turn looked like the NAMC seat designed by Douglas.  See attached shot of the Stanley F4H-1 offering.  Like their proposal for Yankee seats in the A2F, it didn’t go anywhere.


The advent of the Martin-Baker Mk.5 seat moved the Navy to select it as the “standard” seat for new airframes.  While it was the “standard seat”, the seats were all different, the components that stayed the same were the multi cartridge gun and the rail assembly.  After the decision Sir James Martin toured the US taking measurements of all prospective aircraft.  The early Mk.H5 seats had a multi-piece back  pad, this was later changed to a single  pad that carried over to the Mk.H7.  I don’t have information on early MB Mk.H5AF seats.


The Mk.H5 went into the Phantom without a lot of rework.  Not so much the F-8, but that’s another story.  It was referred to as a “Ground Level Ejection Seat” and while not a 0-0 seat it did enable the crew to eject once they got to 90 – 100 kts, 120 Kts in the F-8.  The F-4 airframes have had a lot of different MB H5/H7 models.  NAVAIR 01-245FDA-4-2 lists Navy Models F-4A, F-4B, F-4G and RF-4B aircraft came with the Mk.H5 seat.  It started with the H5, H5A, H5AF (USAF), 5A (Brit), 7A (Brit), H7 (USN) H7AF (USAF) and finally the GH7A for the Germans.


When the various airframes got the Mk.H7 is somewhat problematic.  I have photographs of Mk.H7 seats were tested in the F-4B and operational F-4B’s with Mk.H7 seats.  The F-4N was delivered with Mk.H7’s.  the first 150 F-4J’s were initially delivered with Mk.H5’s.  The F-4A, 4C and 4D were initially delivered with Mk.H5AF seats.  The F-4E started with the Mk.H7AF.  there were some F-4A’s in the Navy, that went to the Air Force.  Likely they had Mk.H5 seats.  One F-4A was used by Navy, USMC and finally the Air Force.


However, it appears by October 1970, all Air Force F-4’s had the Mk.H7AF seat.  Per T.O 1F-4C-1, 1 Oct 1970:  1F-4-857 added the Zero-Zero seat capability to the USAF F-4’s.  F-4E 68-366 and up.  All F-4C/D and F-4E 66-284 thru 68-451.


According to NAVAIR 01-245FDB-2-2-1, Section IX Rocket Assist Ejection Seat:

F-4J 153900a and up, RF-4B 157342ao and up, Also F-4B, F-4J 153071z thru 153899af, and RF-4B 152975r -153115aa after AFC 307 and F-4N.  Yeah that clears things up…


So, 1 April 1968 appears to be the date after which the Mk.H7 seats started showing up in US cockpits.  The Mk.H5 seats were retrofitted, if still in service.


The Mk.5A/7A were aircraft sold to the UK. 

The seats differed from the US.H5AF/H7AF seats with a combined disconnect block on the left rear area of the seat, and the Emergency Oxygen in the left rear corner.   The German seats also had the disconnect block, but in the MB drawings it’s on the left side of the seat, and a photo I have it’s on the RH side of the seat…


The Air Force inherited the Mk.H5 seats, and at least one Air Force seat manager I talked to at Wright-Patt made a point of trying to remove the Martin-Baker seats from F-4’s.  The primary cause of objection was the 18-20 G kick aircrew got with the Mk.H5 seat.  One Vought Crew Stations engineer I talked to pointed to the seat pack.  The Air Force initially used a soft cushion, the Navy used a hard seat pack.  With the hard seat pack there was a limited amount of downward travel before the seat gave the aircrewman a “kick”.    The soft seat pack allowed the aircrewman to sink farther, and therefore he got a harder kick when the seat caught up with him.  When the Air Force switched to the hard seat pack case, the back injuries went down.


Mk.H5 V Mk.H5AF

There are several key external differences that differentiated  Navy/USMC from USAF seats.  The Mk.H5 (USN) seats utilized a seat pack Emergency Oxygen supply.  The Mk.5AF seats relocated the emergency oxygen to the left rear corner of the seat pan.  Both USN and AF seats located the “Hose Disconnect Block” in the left rear corner of the seat pan.  The Mk.H5 seats had a seat pack O2 Supply gage view port on the left front side of the seat pack, along with a green loop for activation.  The USAF seat pack did not have the view port or green pull loop to the right of the gage.

The Mk.H5AF seat had an Emergency Oxygen “ball” located at the left front corner of the seat pan, in some photos this is a “Green Apple” color.  This is the reason the Mk.H5AF seats have an additional set of linkage on the lower Left side of the seat pan.  Ther are of course other changes, but this is likely the most visible from a modeling perspective.  Incidentally the F-4K/M also has the Emergency Oxygen bottle in the left rear corner of the seat pan similar to the Mk.H5AF seats.




One side note the Stanley capsule used in the B-58 was test fitted to an F-4 mockup.  I can only imagine what that would have done to the aircraft, as it would have eliminated all rearward vision not to mention the 600+ Lb. per capsule.


The difference between seats is interesting, as seen in the Mk.H5AF seat in the F-4D at Wright-Patt.  The pilots seat lacks the auto retraction unit that would pull the crewman into the proper position.  The WSO seat has the auto retract system.  I don’t know if this is an oversight on the part of museum or that’s how it got delivered to them.


The Mk.H7AF seat at Chanute AFB, on red tile, also lacks the retraction system, but the seat in the cockpit simulator does.  The Mk.H7 seats from VMFA-321 (side by side Mk.H7 and Mk.H5) have the auto retract system.  Just a few of the tid bits that can drive modelers mad….


The Mk.GH7A seat that went into German F-4’s shows a bit of difference between US Mk.H7 and the Mk.GH7A.  The other difference is the disconnect block is on the right side of the seat, where the Brit seats has it on the left.


So what seat does it have?  After April 1968 the F-4 community started getting the Mk.7 seats. Why the big deal?  If your doing a MiG killer it might have a Mk.5 or later in the 60’s a Mk.7.   But it was not automatic and some airframes from the early 1970’s still had ballistic seats.  You really need to study the reference photos.  Likely when the bird went through rework the seat was changed.



The UK purchased 15 F-4J aircraft, it was the aircraft the F-4K/M was derived from.  The key external feature was the rounded vertical fin, v the squared off F-4K/M.  Its reported that while the K/M was faster off the ground, the F-4J was better at altitude.

Oversea users

RAF seats,

Mk.5A (FG Mk 1, FGR2),

Mk.7A Mk1 Rockets Post 1972. 

Mk.7A Mk2 (remote rocket initiator. 

Mk.7A Mk3 (Thigh guard extensions)

Mk.H7 F-4J (UK) The initial seats were US versions with discussions in the late 80’s on replacing the Mk.H7 seats with the Mk.7A Mk3 seats.  


FAA Seats

Mk.5A (FG Mk1)

Mk.7A (Mk1)

Mk.7A (Mk2)


W German

Mk.GH7A, redesign personal equip block, simplified harness.



Spain, Turkey, Greece, Iran, Israel, Japan, S Korea



Cockpit shots are via National Museum of Naval Aviation unless otherwise noted.


I was cleaning out some blueprints and came across a side view from AMI, Aircraft Mechanics Inc.  This appears to be a proposal for the F4H-1.


In looking at the McD seat and the MB seat look like one influenced the design of the tother.  

































F-4J_153825 with H5s July 1967 via Peter greengrass.jpg







Edited by BWDenver
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