The Tip of the Spear

With the Cold War in full flow, West Germany’s position on the front line demanded an allied presence. Former RAF Phantom pilot Al Munro gives a taste of his Bat le Flight years, which included flying over Etna, going supersonic above a city to intercept a ‘bogey’ – and even a divorce party

For Battle Flight sorties, RAF Phantom FGR.2s carried four Sparrow missiles, as many Sidewinders, and a centreline SUU-23/A 20mm gun pod, as shown here on this 19(F) Squadron example.

It was August 2, 1978 and on hearing “Battle Flight Scramble!”, we were off, running to our hardened shelter and fully armed F-4. Two minutes later we were taxiing, still winding up the second engine, while my navigator Stu Black handled the radar and read vital actions. The local controller passed the rest of the scramble order, essentially to head for the East German border at maximum speed and any height; 2mins 40secs was the fastest scramble ever recorded at our station, Wildenrath, then part of RAF Germany.

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