The F-4 Phantom II jet fighter cockpit mobile exhibit recently received its second exterior paint treatment in July of 2020. The fully-restored "long-nose" cockpit travels on a 27-foot trailer, and makes an immediate impression wherever it goes.
The cockpit began life as part of a complete aircraft, namely F-4F serial number 72-1156, McDonnell Aircraft production number 4461,in service as 37+46 with the (West) German Air Force for training in the U.S. It was acquired by Gateway Youth Aeronautical Foundation Founder and President Joe Steimann in 2003 from a scrap yard in Tulsa, OK. Initial restoration took about 600 hours over eleven months, some of which occurred during Steimann's technical school in Pensacola, FL as a member of the 131st TFW, Missouri Air National Guard.
The aircraft is restored to represent F-4E serial number 68-0338, a jet that served with the 131st TFW after scoring two victories over North Vietnamese MiG-21s in 1972 (the original aircraft is on display at Whiteman AFB, MO). Along with being an historically significant combat veteran, the original 68-0338 was an inspiration to Steimann when it was on display outside of the operations building of the 131st TFW when the unit was based at St. Louis-Lambert International Airport.
Since it's first restoration, the cockpit has travelled throughout the Midwest to events ranging from large airshows to birthday parties, giving the public the rare opportunity to sit in a real jet fighter. It is now the Gateway Youth Aeronautical Foundation's first public exhibit, available for appearances this fall.
Updated November, 2020