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F-4 Phantom II for Dummies: How to Not Kill Yourself

warthunder 4 - F-4 Phantom II for Dummies: How to Not Kill Yourself

This information was intended for Simulator battles but also applies to all game modes.

All the information explained in this document was gathered from in-game experiences and other outside sources. It is by no means 100% accurate and contains a significant margin of error due to the nature of experimentation.

The F-4 Phantom is a complex machine, a huge step up from the f-100 and requires more buttons and insight to effectively fly. These are the
9zRimpY - F-4 Phantom II for Dummies: How to Not Kill Yourself

keybinds that I will mention. There may be some controls you already have binded, and there may be some you may choose to not bind.

The goal of this course is to teach pilots how to not destroy their own planes and to show some nifty tricks about the phantom’s systems that you may not know about. This is not a combat course, those lessons are reserved for the Top Gun.

All measurements are done in metric because screw you and your foot fetish and im too lazy to do conversions

SAS Mode: (Stability augmentation systems)

In simulator battles, the Phantom can be really janky and incredibly difficult to fly, SAS will help reduce instability and oscillations. Flying without SAS is like being unvaccinated, its possible to live through, but its annoying and a single mishap will kill you.

SAS has two different modes for the phantom, “Damping” and “Automatic Leveling”. When you press the toggle key, SAS will enable damping first, press it again and it will switch to automatic leveling, and once more to return to manual control.

“Damping” helps stabilize the overall flight of the aircraft. Instead of bobbing up and down every time you move, your aircraft will more smoothly move to where you want it to. The “Damping” mode is like flying the phantom within her limits, and feels like what pilots are used to on other aircraft. Damping dramatically decreases the chance of wing overload.

“Automatic Leveling” is what you would think it does, it levels the plane completely straight on the gyro. The issue with automatic leveling is that the phantom loses altitude. You can adjust your descent to be kept at zero with just a nudge of the stick. Unfortunately trimming has no effect on this mode, even if your trims are at 100%. Automatic leveling can be used while landing or high altitude cruising. WARNING: do not use automatic leveling when taking off.

In any emergency situation, you can consider turning off SAS, as you are then able to push the phantom past its limits. However, without SAS wing overloads and flat spins are easy to get into.


Radar is not always reliable, it may or may not scan targets (even if you can visually see them) for logical reasons or just Gaijinism.

Radar Warning Receiver: (RWR)

Let me be very clear about a common misconception about RWR. It does not warn you of missile locks or incoming missiles, It only warns you about active radar tracking and scanning signals. Under most circumstances, consider the RWR warnings as “Intent to Kill”, instead of “Impending Death”.

There are two sounds you will hear, which sounds like, “Ping” or “Woop”. You will hear a short “Ping” when another active radar that is scanning the vicinity is detected. The max range of this detection is approximately 35km. Faster pings mean there may be multiple aircraft in the vicinity or an aircraft is using a radar that scans faster, which may be due to a narrower scan.

Vehicles equipped with a radio range finder will spike your RWR with a continuous “Ping” if it starts to track you. You only begin to detect this when the person tracking you is a kilometer away. you’ll be fired upon within milliseconds if this spike is heard

When a vehicle uses radar to track you, it will spike the phantom’s RWR with a continuous “Woop”. You can detect this tracking up to about 35km. RWR will activate regardless if a friendly or enemy begins to track you.

Scanning radar:

Not all the phantom’s radars have the same functionalities. For example, the F-4C doesn’t have a 46km range. Scanning radar is what you will use to locate or identify both enemy and friendly aircraft. The radar has the option to scan up to insane distances. However, the phantom struggles to scan anything over approximately 35km away. Remember, this is also the distance the phantom’s RWR will begin to detect the scanning radar and emit “pings”. The longer your radar scan radius, the more cluttered closer targets will appear. Stick with the shorter ranges for the better clarity as you home in on a target.

You can also adjust the scanning arc size. Keep in mind that the wider the scan arc is, the longer it takes for the radar to scan the given area. It’s convenient to both shorten the scanning radius and arc to single-in on a target.

Scanning radar is great for detecting aircraft beyond visual range. try to maintain radar detection until visual range is detected. If you visually detect an aircraft before you scan on the radar, it would be wise to just hold back until you can identify friend or foe before engaging.

Identification Friend or Foe (IFF):

When using the radar in the scanning mode, two different kinds of
blips may appear when an aircraft is detected. Friendly, shown as two horizontal lines, or Hostile, shown as a single horizontal line between two vertical lines.


When you radar track onto an aircraft it precisely tracks a target’s distance from you. The downside to tracking radar is that it spikes your target’s RWR (if they have it, but always assume they do), alerting them of your “killing intent”.

There are two different ways to enable tracking radar on the phantom. First is “change radar mode”, which will begin scanning up to 9.25 km DIRECTLY in front of your nose. Therefore a target has to be within this range before it can be tracked. You are unable to identify friend or foe when using tracking radar, so be sure to identify before you engage tracking.

The other method is “lock radar target on'' which only activates when an enemy aircraft is pinged on search radar, while the ping is valid. This mode can track an enemy that is not directly in front of your nose and can stretch distances greater than 9.25km. you can track up to 35km. Press the “lock radar target on” button again to stop tracking.

(you would probably use this method to for radar-guided missiles, such as the AIM-7 sparrow but such missiles are not ingame at the moment)

You can use the tracking radar to determine a target’s distance from you. Obtaining a track on an enemy has benefits for combat. . For close quarters tracking, the gyro gunsight will adjust and lead for you when you use the cannon. Not all the phantoms have the gyro gunsight

For missile engagements, radar tracking unlocks the seeker cage for IR missiles. This method only works on AIM-9E and J seekers.


Currently the only air-to-air missiles the phantom has is the AIM-9. The Phantoms across the board have access to the AIM-9 B, D, E and J.

The AIM-9B has a caged seeker, which means you have to keep the seeker on-target, within a small ring, until the missile is fired.

AIM-9D, E and J are uncaged, which means that once you obtain a missile lock from the first ring, you are free to move within a wider “uncaged” seeker ring. This freedom allows you to lead your missiles so they don't have to maneuver as much when fired. The less a missile has to maneuver, the faster it will travel and the more likely it will hit.

In addition, AIM-9E and J have radar slaving capabilities, which allows for the seekers to obtain a lock within their “uncaged” seeker ring, and at longer distances on a target that is being radar tracked. This means you don't have to point the nose at a target to begin a lock on them. you can skip that step and start to lead a target before even powering on a missile.

Back to traditional methods in the cockpit, It’s a bit confusing to obtain a missile lock on the phantom because you have to point the nose at the target, which is not the gunsight. To normally get a missile lock in the cockpit, just aim below the
K6gjIVi - F-4 Phantom II for Dummies: How to Not Kill Yourself

gunsight to get a lock, that should be where the nose is.


The bullpup ATGM are useful as they have longer range capabilities than unguided rockets. However, they require skill to use. The reason for this is because you have to manually guide the missile after you launch it.

The ballistic computer tries to predict the trajectory of the bullpup, but falls short. Thus, the accuracy of the missile is totally dependent on the guidance of the pilot. Because of the high learning curve and the payload of the missile, bullpups are not used too much in battles.


Currently the only phantom that does not have access to flares is the F-4C variant in the american tech tree. Flares are extremely useful in avoiding missiles or deterring a missile lock without losing too much energy. However there is very little information about them and their use.

To use flares, you must first bind a key to activate them in the controls. You can choose between Fire flares And Periodic flares release (on/off) or have them both binded.

“Fire flares” only dispenses 1 set of flares. For this option to be effective, you will have to tap the “fire flares” button many times.

“Periodic flares release” automatically dispenses flares for you when it is toggled on. Periodic flares release requires a little bit of tuning which you can configure ingame. The settings include Flares series, Flares series periods, and flares periods.

“Flares series” is the number of flares that will be promptly deployed. This can be set from 1 flare to 4. “Flares series periods” is the rest time between each series. “Flares periods” is the time between each flare, fired in the series. Here is an
illustration showing the function these settings have.

Deploy a short cluster of flares and maneuver out of the area, afterburn at your own risk when releasing flares. Afterburn produces a larger heat signature, highly increasing the chances of an Infrared missile hitting you, even if you have deployed a large cluster of flares. Flares aren't the only option you have to avoid incoming missiles, concealing yourself in the clouds or flying into the sun are simple and effective ways to throw a missile off course or to force an enemy to lose a missile lock on you. Flares would be useless against radar guided missiles

Ballistic Computer:

The ballistic computer is not available for the F-4C. When turned on, you can use the assistance of the ballistic computer to precisely bomb, strafe, or rocket a target on the surface.

You will have to toggle through “change sight mode” to use the ballistic computer for your needs. Changing sight mode is only required for cockpit use. in third person (realistic battles), the ballistic computer is automatically controlled for your given payload.

Sight mode, gun on ground target:

this mode will allow you to strafe targets on the ground with your guns. The gunsight will lead for you when you fire a burst at a targeted location on the ground. Keep in mind the gunsight will not appear unless you are pointed towards the ground, and at a close enough distance.

Sight mode, rockets:

This mode is similar to “gun on ground target”. The gunsight will appear lower than normal, but you can raise your head to see the center of the gunsight. simply point the aircraft at the ground and, when at the appropriate distance, the sight will appear. When you fire the rockets, they will fly right at the targeted location with little spread, the sight will return to “standard” when all the rockets are expended

Sight mode, bombs:

The bombs mode is used for dive bombing. In this mode, the reticle will appear off to the edge and bounce around and blink while you are in flight. Just ignore all that until you begin the bombing dive. bombs will not drop above mach 1 so slow down if you are too fast. When you enter a dive, the reticle will calculate itself and blink. The gunsight will stop blinking when bombing will be most accurate. This is dependent on altitude and angle of attack. Drop the bombs when the gunsight stops blinking.

Sight mode, bombs (auto):also known as CCRP.

CCRP is nice as you can deliver bombs from high altitudes, level flight, dives, and even pop-ups.

There are two ways to select a target for bombing. You can scroll through predetermined locations for bombing, or create one you want anywhere on the map.

Press the switch mission bombing target until your desired target area is reached. In a sim battle there can be around 30 different bombing areas, it’s very difficult to know which module you selected. You can only see the red boxes in 3rd person view.

To set your own bombing location, aim the gunsight at a location and press “Activate target point” this method is faith-based in sim. You can press “deactivate target point” at any time to turn off CCRP.

When a mission bombing target is selected, the cockpit sight mode “bombing” will become “bombing (auto)” (you’ll have to scroll sight modes for this to take effect) and the gunsight will move itself right at the bombing location. The gunsight will direct you towards the bombing location. Make sure to look straight ahead before correctly orienting yourself towards the bombing location. if you turn your head, the gunsight will be off-set and could cause you to fly off course.

When approaching the bombing location, hold down “drop bomb” for 1 bomb or “drop bomb series” to drop all bombs. The bombs will not drop, instead the notice, “bomb release permission” will appear. When the ballistic computer finds that you are over your bombing location, the gunsight will swing off to the side (Be careful to not correct when this occurs) and the bombs will automatically release themselves over the designated bombing location, as long as the button is held down. The accuracy of CCRP is rated for the 1st bomb.

Landing and Takeoff

Landing and takeoff speeds differ significantly when equipped with a payload. It is recommended to ditch heavy payloads before landing. Landing and take-off procedures seem straightforward, but due to the phantoms flight characteristics, it is very easy to destroy the plane. Therefore, landings and takeoffs are best achieved within certain parameters


Preflight checklist: ballistic computer: on, SAS mode: damping, flaps: Takeoff, Cockpit: closed

Once the preflight checklist is completed, accelerate the phantom to afterburners. The phantom’s engines are not synced when accelerated too quickly. This causes the phantom to steer off to the left or to the right, just like a prop would. You can just use rudder to correct, but it's nice to avoid on a jet. You can also hold the brakes while you throttle up. Accelerate until your speed passes the caret on your speedometer at 17 knots (300km/h). when you pass the caret, pull the nose up but not past the first line of the gyroscope. while you are still on the ground if you pull the nose above the first line on the gyroscope the phantom will tailstrike. You will know if you successfully took off when the variometer starts to increase, you can then safely pull up harder. Lift your gear before you reach 480km/h


“The leading cause of phantom deaths are from landing” -opinionated quote. To land, you need to understand some flight characteristics and tolerances of the phantom. The phantom decelerates extremely quickly, so speed requires a lot of attention and management. Take-off flaps will break above 600km/h. Landing flaps and gear will break at roughly 480km/h. That being said, a safe landing is best achieved between the ideal speed of 320-420km/h with a descent rate no greater than -1. The phantom will fall below 300km/h. SAS on “Automatic leveling'' can reduce the intensity of inputs on final approach, but is not necessary. Once all wheels are on the ground and speed is decelerating, release the drag chute once you are under 299km/h. Press the drag chute button ONCE. Either the chute or the plane can rip if you are at or above 300km/h. The phantom’s brakes are very effective, drifting is not always necessary but is possible below 80km/h.

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