Buy a Flyable McDonnell F4H-1F Phantom Jet

  • The F-4 Phantom was built in 1959 for the U.S. Navy.
  • The aircraft set a new low-altitude speed record, doing 902 miles per hour at 125 feet.
  • The Phantom is the only plane of its kind that is flyable in the civilian world. Now, you can own one for $3.25 million.

An ex-U.S. Navy fighter jet that set the Mach-busting, low-altitude speed record is up for sale.

You love badass planes. So do we. Let’s nerd out over them together.

This 1959 McDonnell Douglas F4H-1F Phantom is the only flyable plane of its kind outside of military service. While the Phantom requires a little bit of TLC to get it flyable, it can now be yours for a cool $3.25 million.


us bombing north vietnam


U.S. Air Force F-4C fighters dropping bombs on North Vietnam, 1966. Underwood ArchivesGetty Images. 

The F-4 Phantom was one of the first multi-service combat jets. Adopted by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps, it was a large, twin-engine fighter utilized for both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat. It was, in many ways, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter of its time, exported to American allies like Japan, Turkey, Israel, Germany, the United Kingdom, and many others.

The F-4 participated in numerous conflicts, including the Vietnam War, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Iran-Iraq War, and the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

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The F-4H-1F Phantom was an early model of the F-4—later designated F-4A—and this particular jet, Navy Bureau of Aeronautics #145310, was built in 1959. It was only the 11th Phantom jet ever built, with 5,184 more F-4s of various types to follow. Like many early production aircraft, BuNo 145310 never went to the fleet, and was instead diverted to the Navy’s test program.

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BuNo 145310, 1960.Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

BuNo 145310 first came to notoriety in 1961, when it was fitted with new ejector racks that allowed the jet to carry 22 Mk. 83 500-pound bombs. That was 2.5 times more bombs than a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber carried into battle just 16 years prior. After a demonstration bombing mission at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the U.S. Air Force decided to buy its own F-4s.

In 1961, the Navy kicked off Operation Sageburner, which was meant to celebrate the 50th anniversary of naval aviation by setting a new low-altitude speed record. The first attempt, on May 18, 1961, ended in disaster when F-4H1-F BuNo 145316 suffered a pitch control damper failure.The jet, suddenly subjected to violent oscillations that exceeded the plane’s structural limits, exploded in midair, killing the pilot and copilot. A second jet, 145307, successfully threaded a 3-kilometer long course at 902 miles per hour, all the while staying under 125 feet.

BuNo 145310 was also a part of the Sageburner program, and one of the two surviving planes. The plane was retired in 1964, just seven years after it was built, ending up at the Wings and Rotors Air Museum in Murrietta, California. The jet was kept in storage for decades until a grant allowed the museum to begin restoration work.

Now, the plane is for sale with Platinum Fighter Sales, an aviation sales broker. The jet is described as 80 to 85 percent overhauled, with three J-79 engines (the F-4 is a twin-engine jet) awaiting overhaul. The plane has been completely rewired and features rebuilt fuel, pneumatic, and hydraulic systems. It also has new wheels and brakes, a new paint job, and working ejection seats.




The airplane comes with demilitarized Mk. 83 Snakeye bombs and Sidewinder missiles.

Platinum Fighters

The plane was demilitarized, or “demilled,” after leaving U.S. Navy service. Typically, this includes removing the M61 internal 20-millimeter Gatling gun, fire control system, and onboard radar.

The jet doesn’t come with live weapons, but it does carry an inert AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile and at least two Mk. 83 “Snakeye” high-drag, 500-pound bombs—the same bombs carried in the 1961 Fort Bragg test.

Once restoration is complete, BuNo 145310 will be the only flyable F-4 Phantom aircraft in private hands anywhere in the world. But with at least a $3.25 million price tag, that status certainly won’t come cheap.

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