McDonnell Douglas
Phantom FGR-2
EMI Reconnaissance Pod
  • Home
  • Return


RAF Phantom XV406 clearly displying the EMI recoonaissance pod The United Kingdom was the first outside of the USA to place an order for the Phantom F-4 for both the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. The first two pre-production aircraft took their first flights on the 17 February 1967, these aircraft being YF-4K (FGR.1) serial numbers XT852 and XT853.
The first Phantoms to equip the RAF in the close support role were 20 aircraft ordinarily earmarked as interceptors for the Royal Navy however, due to the scaling down of their order, the airframes were transferred.
No.228 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) was formed at RAF Coningsby at the beginning of 1968 for the role of initial training, however, conversion courses on the Phantom did not truly start until later that year when the first of the F-4M (FGR.2) aircraft started to arrive.  In mid 1969 the RAF equipped No.6 Squadron  again at Coningsby with the aircraft, then later that year, No.43 Squadron  at RAF Leuchars in Scotland stood up with F-4K Phantoms in the maritime air defence role. Further squadrons were to be equipped with the aircraft, these being 23, 29, 41, 43, 56, 111 in the UK, 111 Sqn was later to "takeover" the ex-Royal Navy aircraft, and the OCU was re-designated No.63 Squadron. In RAF Germany the Phantom equipped 14, 17, 31 Squadrons, based at RAF Bruggen, 19 and 92 Squadrons at RAF Wildenrath and II(AC) squadron at RAF Laarbruch. After the Falklands conflict, elements of 29 Squadron were moved south the islands and were based at RAF Stanley. This left a shortfall in the UK air defence and so, No.74 Squadron was commissioned equipped with refurbished US Navy F-4Js and these were to be known as F-4J(UK), they were not fitted with the Rolls Royce Spey engines like the RAF fleet, they would retain most of their USN spec including their engines. It seemed the the crews of the F.4J(UK) rated them better than the FGR.2s.
Unlike the USAF and US Marines, the RAF did not obtain Phantoms that was solely for photographic reconnaissance, the RF-4 series.  The RAF Phantoms had a "multi-role" capability and one of these was reconnaissance, to undertake this role, both II(AC) and 41 squadron were equipped with the 24 foot EMI Reconnaissance Pod. The pod was pressurised and mounted on the aircrafts centre-line position, looking like a 500 gal external fuel tank, it had a fat bottom and an air scoop on each side of the pods forward noise section.
Starting at the front the pod was fitted with the following equipment, two forward facing AGI F.135 cameras, a Texas Instrument RS700 infar-red linescan (ILRS) sensor, four F.95 cameras in the oblique position, these could replaced with another split pair of F.135 cameras for night tasking. Along each side of the pod were the 15 ft slotted waveguide aerials for the MEL/EMI Q-band Sideways Looking Reconnaissance Radar (SLRR). This scope of reconnaissance equipment fitted gave a horizon-to-horizon coverage, however, there was a loss of 4½° on each horizon due to the external fuel tanks mounted under the aircrafts wings.
The exposure rate of each camera could be selected to run at 4, 6, 8, or 12 frames per second, though normal settings were either 8 or 12  depending on what height the aircraft was flying. The IRLS could cover an area of three times the aircrafts height. When using the SLLR the aircraft had to fly straight and level as the system was not roll stabilised. The system could cover an area of five miles when the aircraft was operating at normal low-level height, this increased to ten miles when flying at 6,000ft, however, there was a degradation of image quality.

Both II(AC) and 41 Squadrons transferred to SEPECAT Jaguar in 1976 and continued undertaking the tactical reconnaissance role.

Click diagrams for enlargements
 EMI reconnaissance Pod Layout
 EMI reconnaissance Pod Layout