RF-4E farewell 348 Tactical Reconnaisance Sqdn, Larisa Air Force Base

 

“The end of the film”

 

The 5th of May marked the final flight of the mighty RF-4E Phantom II in Greece. A small ceremony was held to commemorate this event.

 

A day before this event a spotters day was held on Larisa Air Force Base

But first a little bit of history:

 

348 TRS was formed on the 20th of August 1953, being part of the 112th Combat Wing at Elefsina Air Force Base.

 

Aircraft operated by the 348 TRS:

 

1953 - 1955 Republic F-84G (R) Thunderstreak

1955 - 1957 Lockheed RT-33A Shooting Star

1956 - 1991 Republic RF-84F Thunderflash

1978 - 2017 McDonnell Douglas RF-4E Phantom II

 

The last type being used by the Squadron was a mix of different batches of aircraft.

A batch of new aircraft ordered from McDonnell Douglas.

 

Serials:

 

77-0357  77-0358  77-1761  77-1762  77-1763

77-1764  77-1765  77-1766

 

The second batch were aircraft obtained from the Luftwaffe.

 

 

Serials:

 

69-7449  66-7450  69-7454  69-7460  69-7464

69-7471  69-7476  69-7482  69-7486  69-7487

69-7491  69-7493  69-7495  69-7496  69-7498

69-7499  69-7500  69-7506  69-7507  69-7508

69-7511  69-7519  69-7529  69-7531  69-7533

69-7534  69-7535

Farewell days:

 

The first event was a spotters day on Thursday organized by the Squadron. Sadly they did not receive any backing from the Greek Air Force Headquarters. Resulting in a slow operational flying day. Very few visitors were lured to this event. Some Belgian F-16’s made a stopover for a day. The three last operational Phantoms flew several sorties. But no fly-by’s for the several hundred spotters on base. Some local F-16’s also flew several sorties.

 

RF-4E 77-1765 standard colors.

RF-4E 66-7450 “60 years 348 TRS” colors

RF-4E 69-7499 “The end of the film” colors

On Friday the official farewell ceremony was held on Larisa AFB. This event was open for the general public and consisted out of a formation flyby of the three last operational Phantoms, a Mirage 2000 and a F-16. Sadly the specially painted Mirage 2000 in this formation crashed a week later. Luckily no injury for the pilot.

After the formation flyby the Phantom with the special paint “The end of the film” was parked between a F-16 and RF-84F. After its engines stopped people were allowed to get closer.

A hour later this event was over.

 

A big contrast compared to the farewell ceremony for the A-7 held at Araxos AFB. But as mentioned earlier the Squadron did not receive any authorization to organize this event from Greek Air Force Headquarters.

 

I would like to thank the People of 348 TRS for making these events possible. They did their very best to let us feel welcome.

 

Text & photography: Ludo Kloek