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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 82555
Last updated: 26 November 2020
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Type:Silhouette image of generic F4 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II
Owner/operator:VF-121, US Navy
Registration: 153781
C/n / msn: 1852
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:USS Coral Sea (CV-43), off the coast of California -   United States of America
Phase: Landing
Departure airport:NAS Miramar (KNKX)
Destination airport:USS Coral Sea (CV-43) off California
McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II US Navy Bu Aer No 153781 'NL' of VF-191 SATAN'S KITTENS, Commanding Officer's airplane on the USS Coral Sea (CV-43). Crashed and destroyed on night of February 7-8 1978.

Per eyewitness report: "the F-4 crash that happened the night of 7-8 February 1978 when the Coral Sea was operating in the southern California operating area during a sea period from 31 January 1978 to 17 February 1978. The ship was conducting carrier qualifications for the west coast replacement squadrons and for the basic training command squadrons while the USS Lexington was in restricted availability.

That night a very fiery accident occurred when a VF-121 F-4J landed and broke its main wing spar in half during recovery. During the run out the flames from the ruptured center line drop tank ignited spreading flames in front of the wings which caused the RIO to eject but the pilot** was unaware of the flames and turned his head to see why the RIO ejected and wasn't in the tucked position when his own seat ejected and he suffered a broken neck and died while they recovered the RIO uninjured.

The flames burned for 17 minutes with the crash crew unaware that the engineering department had emptied all the AFFT (foam) tanks before going on our very last sea period operating aircraft for training because the ship was going to Bremerton, Washington for a 11 month yard period after that sea period."

**Pilot killed was Lt. T.E.Dewald



Photo of 153781 courtesy

San Diego - Miramar MCAS (KNKX / NKX)
1977; (c) Jonathan Verschuuren Collection

Revision history:

14-Nov-2010 11:55 ASN archive Added
09-Feb-2013 21:11 Dr. John Smith Updated [Cn, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Source, Narrative]
09-Feb-2013 21:23 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Total fatalities, Location, Country, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
18-Aug-2013 17:59 Uli Elch Updated [Aircraft type, Departure airport]

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