Sunday, September 30, 2012

F-4 Sparrow Missile Orientation

According to pretty good McDonnell F-4J drawings, the Sparrows mounted under the fuselage were angled slightly from wings level.

In the front view, it is clear that the rear Sparrows are angled. Using Illustrator, I measured it at three degrees.

The forward Sparrows appear to be not angled as much in the above front view but close examination of the cross section at the location of the forward Sparrow's aft wings indicates that they are rotated the same three degrees as the aft Sparrows so the wings lie flat on the surface of the bottom of the fuselage.


  1. Did anyone ever document the impact of having sparrows uploaded on the F-4's handling? Was there any change from having as many as 8 triangular dorsal fins on the belly of the airplane?

    1. I'm not aware of any handling-quality issues generated by the presence or absence of the Sparrows other than the need to consider center of gravity when loading or firing them. From a directional stability standpoint, there were as many fins forward as aft when all four missiles were loaded and even if the two forward missiles were the only ones loaded, the decrease in directional stability was probably pretty small.