Ghost F-4E Phantom II “The Spook”:
Thomas Barkey had a feeling, something was drawing him towards something. He was too old now and a bit slow but in his time he has been a smashing fighter pilot, flying old Pre-Rifts fighters. With a couple of old companions, he had spend the last couple of weeks in his Jeep looking for something and now he felt he was close. They had thought him crazy but had stuck with him.
Just up ahead was the ruins of some buildings, perhaps ancient hangers. It appeared as if at one time this had been on the outskirts of a major city. Some towers still stood stark against the skies. Weeds now grew everywhere and vines covered the remains of most the buildings. Some of the species were natives of Earth but where some had come from was unknown. There might be squatters, human or otherwise. As such, he grabbed his rifle and put his combat helmet on.
Everything was quiet however as he entered the old building. It did appear to be an old hanger of some sort. He looked around and there was a sign above the building. Half the roof had collapsed. This was not a good omen. An old sign hung in front of the building. Half was unreadable but thought he could read from the second half “Air and Space Museum.”
Through a broken door, he cautiously stepped inside. His movement scared a number of birds and they went flying out of the convenient holes in the roof. Pools of water could be seen on the floor and as his eyes adjusted, he could see the wreckage of old fighters. Girders had collapsed on many of them and the roof looked none too sturdy. Sadly, none of the old aircraft looked salvageable. He had gotten his hopes up only to be dashed.
His eyes flickered to one side. Why his eyes were drawn in that direction, it is hard to say. In a more protected area, there was an old F-4 Phantom. He knew about the fighter and had heard stories than an ancestor had helped to develop the fighter.
The skin of the old fighter was torn up but the frame seemed to be in good shape. It looked like it might be able to be restored. Where the skin was intact, it was painted camouflage and the fighter had the famous "shark's mouth" on the nose. On a piece of surviving skin was written "Spook." On the side, under the cockpit, was the symbol of a MiG having been shot down.
Somehow, he knew this old fighter was what had drawn him to it. Didn't matter to him why. Somehow he knew that he would restore the old fighter to operational status. It would fly again.
Serving for over sixty years, the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is one of the most famous jets in history. It first entered service in the United States Navy and later the United States army adopted the fighter as well. Produced for over twenty years, over five thousand of these twin seater aircraft were built, making it the most numerous American supersonic military aircraft. When introduced, the Phantom set a number of records. The Phantom is well known for its service in the Vietnam war but Wild Weasel versions served in the first Gulf War. It was exported to around ten other nations. In Israel's service, the fighter fought in numerous conflicts, serving with distinction.
The F-4E model was the most numerous model produced with almost fourteen hundred produced. First prototypes flew in Nineteen Sixty-Five with the first production F-4E entering service in Nineteen Sixty-Seven. Previous versions of the F-4 did not mount an internal gun and had to carry an external gun pod. These extremely gun pods were not effective in dog fighting. Most export versions of the F-4 were either the F-4E or modified versions of the F-4E.
Even though retired in United States combat service in the early Nineteen-Nineties, they continued in the role of target drones for over two decades. In addition, a number of nations continued to operate the fighter for three more decades. Some of these involved various upgrades to keep them combat. There was even a handful of civilian operated F-4 Phantoms. As with many historic fighters, a number of F-4 Phantoms were preserved.
How the Phantom that became known as “The Spook” was rediscovered is a fascinating story. Suffice it to say that the ship seems to produce a pull which led the fighter to its resting spot. It had served in Vietnam and had been in several dogfights and even had a kill of a MiG-21. After returning to the United States, it served in the Air National Guard until the late Nineteen-Eighties. The fighter then found its way into an air and pace museum. Unlike many "ghost" vehicles, “The Spook” was in sad shape when first discovered, almost a wreck. Even before the coming of the Rifts, the old Phantom had not been well taken care of. The coming of the Rifts, it had almost been wrecked along with the other aircraft in the museum although somehow the frame remained in good shape.
The rebuilding of the aircraft was a labor of love. It was practically stripped down to a bare frame. It was then almost completely rebuilt with modern systems. While being taken apart, an old set of Dog Tags with the name "Jones, R." were found hidden in a tear the pilot seat. Most likely, they belonged to one of the previous pilots. Throughout the rebuilding process, little voices seemed to be sometimes be heard. They were always just at the edge of hearing so hard to tell if it might just be one's imagination. The fighter was repainted carefully in its original camouflage colors as carefully as could be reproduced with a sharks mouth design under the nose of the fighter. Originally markings were carefully duplicated as well. It was not until the plane was once more operation that it became obvious that the old fighter was haunted. The discoverer of the F-4 was an older man and decided to pass the fighter to another pilot.
In many ways, after being rebuild, “The Spook” can be considered more of a modern fighter than anything even though it appears almost identical in appearance to when it had last flown . This rebuilding included replacing the original skin of the Phantom with high strength composites and alloys. As well, the original frame was reinforced in areas. Unfortunately, the aircraft did not transform like many ghost vehicles with the magical energy and does not regenerate damage.
The original engines were unsalvageable and would not have been worth it in all likelihood even if their were. Instead, a par of fusion turbine engines were adapted for the old fighter. In addition to giving virtually unlimited endurance, these engines produce greater power, allowing the fighter to achieve up to Mach 2.45 although the engines quickly overheat at such speeds. Thrusters are designed for vectoring for greater maneuverability and short take off and landing. In addition, the engines give more thrust than the fighter’s weight. One of the nice things about the F-4 compared with many other Pre-Rifts aircraft is that it is capable of operating on extremely rough terrain. Many air fields in the time after the coming of the Rifts are quite primitive.
During rebuilding, the flight controls and electronics were completely replaced. An advanced fly by wire system replaces the original flight systems. In addition, the instrumentation is replaced with modern display systems. These are designed to look as much like the original systems as possible however. Of course, full information is also available in the pilot’s and copilot’s helmet. New sensor systems include long range radar and jamming gear as well as forward locking infrared gear. Modern communication and life support systems replace the original systems as well.
As the Phantom is a combat aircraft and the Rifts World is an extremely dangerous place, it needed to be well armed. A pair of laser cannons replace the original 20 mm cannon. These are from the JA-12 Juicer pulse rifle and connected to the fighter’s fusion reactor, they give effectively unlimited shots. The original nine hard points are retained although modified to carry a larger variety of ordnance. There is a center fuselage hard point, two on either side of the engines, and two on each wing. The central hard point often carries a gun pod. The other hard points are not fitted to carry one. Otherwise, the old fighter can carry a variety of different ordnance as missions require although missiles are most commonly carried. Outer fuselage hard points are limited to medium range missiles or smaller but the wing hard points can each carry a long range missile.
When the fighter was completed, it simply would not work right. Multiple systems just suddenly developed faults. Each system had been tested before being installed and had worked fine. The aircraft was stripped partially and systems were tested. Off the fighter, they operated fine. Installed in the fighter, they just would not work right. Finally, the dog tags were returned to the cockpit. At that point, every system of the fighter just started working properly.
The haunting of the fighter expresses itself in other little ways. Like many ghost vehicles, the fighter seems to only like certain people. How the fighter chooses who will be able to fly it is almost impossible to understand. Still, the frame seems to hum with magical energies. The pilot does not need to be a spell caster but still can access a variety of magic enchantments. One is to create a protective force field around a fighter, make itself impervious to energy, jam electronic signals, and can even create a shock wave around the fighter. This last is especially effective as a last moment ditch effort to protect itself against incoming missiles. Interesting, the crew of the pilot have a kind of spirit vision that allows them to see creatures which are invisible including various spirits. The fighter can choose to activate its own enchantment and appears to occasionally take the stick as well, dodging when needed. Could probably even land itself if the pilot was incapacitated. The fighter appears to be extremely lucky at times, far more than most would believe.
The quirks of the fighter have some darker sides. The most minor of these is that even though the original radios have been replaced by modern equipment, there are snatches over the communication system that sound like they come from the Vietnam War. Sometimes this can come in the form of advice however, generally good, which is from the spirit inhabiting the fighter. It appears to usually be broken pices of conversation which can be combined together to make coherent advice. The worse one is that the pilots who fly the fighter will find themselves sometimes having nightmares. These nightmares are very intense, often involving combat during the Vietnam War.
Model Number: F-4E
Vehicle Type: Twin Engine Fighter-Bomber
M.D.C. by Location:
| Wings (2):||90 each|
| Elevators (2):||60 each|
| Rudder (1):||80 each|
| Engines (2):||125 each|
|Landing Gear (3):||10 each|
| Main Body:||200|
 Destroying a wing will cause the plane to crash
 Destruction of rudder or one elevator will still allow the fighter to be controlled by the varying of power levels of the engines but the fighter has a penalty of -10 to dodge, and a -30% penalty to all piloting rolls. Destruction of both of the elevators will leave the plane uncontrollable and pilot must eject to survive.
 The destruction of one engine will reduce the fighter’s top speed by half and give the pilot a -2 penalty to dodge as well as giving a 10% penalty to piloting. Destruction of both engines will cause the aircraft to crash. Pilot may attempt an emergency landing or pilot can choose to eject.
 Depleting the M.D.C. of the main body will shut the aircraft down completely, rendering it useless and causing it to crash if in flight.
Driving on Ground (Taxiing): Only possible for take offs and landings as well as for parking and storage. Speed is 40 mph (64 kph) when traveling and not on take off or landing. Because of the vectoring of the thrusters, the fighter can take off in a short distance. The F-4 is capable of operating from primitive air fields and retains a tail hook..
Flying: The Ghost F-4E “Spook” has a top speed of Mach 2.45 (1,617 mph/ 1,405 knots / 2,602.3 kph) and has a maximum operating altitude of 75,000 feet (22,860 meters). When the fighter is carrying ordnance on its hard points, the fighter has a top speed of Mach 2.0 (1320 mph / 1,147 knots / 2,124.3 kph.)
Range: Nuclear power gives it continual energy, but the jets overheat after 10 hours of continual use above 200 mph, or 4 hours if going above 600 mph (960 km). Going at 200 mph (320 km) with occasional rest stops will allow the aircraft to travel for 40 hours. Because of the vectoring of the thrusters, the fighter can take off in a short distance.
Height: 16 feet 6 inches (5.0 meters)
Wingspan: 38 feet 4.5 inches (11.7 meters)
Length: 63 feet 0 inches (19.2 meters)
Weight: 32,500 pounds (14,742 kg) empty and 55,450 pounds (25,152 kg) fully loaded
Power System: Twin Fusion Thrusters (Should have an average life span of 15 years.)
Cargo: Minimal (Storage for small equipment) in cockpit, does not include hard points.
Black Market Cost: Not for Sale, price for the fighter is virtually impossible to estimate. Refitting the fighter cost about 15 to 20 million credits.
- Two (2) Laser Cannons: Laser cannons are mounted on either
side of the nose of the fighter. The fighter’s laser cannons are from the
barrels and inner working of the JA-12 Assault Rifle. The laser cannons
pull power directly from the fusion reactor of the fighter.
Maximum Effective Range: 4,000 feet (1,200 meters).
Mega Damage: 4D6 for one cannon, 8D6 for both cannons, 1D6x10+10 for three round burst from one cannon, 2D6x10+20 for three round burst from both barrels (6 total shots)
Rate of Fire:Equal to the pilots combined hand to hand (usually 5 or 6).
Payload: Effectively Unlimited (Draws Power off the main engines).
- Nine (9) Hard Points: The “Spook” has nine hard points for
ordnance and equipment. Below is a list of hard points and the loads that
they can carry. Missiles, rocket packs, and bombs can be mixed or matched
but all ordnance on a hard point must be the same type.
Central Hard Point: Rail gun pod, rocket packs, or missiles/bombs (one long range missile / heavy bomb, two medium range missile / medium bomb, or four short range missile / light bomb).
Outer Fuselage / Engine Hard Points (4): Missiles / bombs (one medium range missile / medium bomb or two short range missiles / light bombs).
Inner Wing Hard Points (2): Rocket packs, missiles/bombs (one long range missile /heavy bomb, two medium range / medium bombs, or four short range missile / light bombs).
Middle Wing Hard Points (2): Rocket packs, missiles/bombs (one long range missile /heavy bomb, two medium range / medium bombs, or four short range missile / light bombs).
- Bombs and Missiles: The only restriction is that a hard point
must carry all the same type of missiles or bombs. Both unguided and guided
bombs can be carried.
Maximum Effective Range: Varies by missile type for missile and varies by altitude bombs are dropped at (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
Mega Damage: Varies by missile or bomb type (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
Rate of Fire: Missiles can be fired and bombs can be dropped one at a time per hard point. Multiple hard points can be linked as one attack but must be the same size (light, medium, or heavy) and style of ordnance (all missiles or bombs in a volley.)
Payload: Varies by hard point (see above - all ordnance on a hard point must be the same size and type of ordnance)
- Mini-Missile Pod: Large capacity mini-missile pod. The aircraft
normally carries missile pods for ground strafing, anti-troop, and anti-emplacement
attacks. Normal missile used are armor piercing, plasma, or fragmentation
Maximum Effective Range: Varies with missile types, mini-missiles only (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
Mega Damage: Varies with mini-missile types (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
Rate of Fire: Each pod can fire missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2), four (4), eight (8), or sixteen (16 - all.) and can be linked with other mini missile pods for greater number of missiles (Counts as one attack no matter how many missiles in volley.)
Payload: Each pod carries sixteen (16) mini-missiles.
- Rail Gun Pods: Only mounted in the centerline hard point.
Copies of the NG-202 set up in a pod that is designed to be mounted on
the hard points. The cannon is set up like the NG-202 on the Samson power
armor with a greater rate of fire that the normal NG-202. Useful against
targets that are impervious to energy weapons.
Maximum Effective Range: 4,000 feet (1,200 meters)
Mega Damage: 1D6x10 M.D.C. per burst of 60 rounds for one rail gun (Single round inflicts 1D4 M.D.C.)
Rate of Fire: Equal to pilot’s hand to hand (usually 5 or 6).
Payload: 3,000 rounds each gun, That is 50 Bursts for each rail gun.
- Bombs and Missiles: The only restriction is that a hard point must carry all the same type of missiles or bombs. Both unguided and guided bombs can be carried.
- Anti-Missile Chaff Dispenser: Located at the very tail of
the fighter are two chaff dispensers. When tailed by a missile, a cloud
of chaff and other obtrusive particles can be released to confuse or detonate
the enemy's attack. Rifts Earth decoys systems are assumed to not operate
on Phase World missiles due to technological difference. Reduce effects
by 20% against smart missiles (Add +20% to rolls for smart missiles.)
- 01-50 Enemy missile or missile volley detonates in chaff cloud - Missiles
are all destroyed.
51-75 Enemy missile or missile volley loses track of real target and veers away in wrong direction (May lock onto another target.)
76-00 No effect, enemy missile or missile volley is still on target.
Payload: Eight (8)
The fighter has all the standard features of a standard fighter (same as standard robot minus loudspeaker and microphone) plus these special features listed below
- Radar: Range 500 miles (434.5 nautical miles / 805 km), can identify and track up to 96 targets simultaneously, It is also capable of Terrain Following for low altitude flight. With Combat & Targeting Computer, the Starfighter can fire missiles at up to twenty four targets at the same time.
- Internal Active Jamming Gear: Causes -25% to detection but when it is active, other vehicles/ bases can detect that it is jamming, and some missiles will home in on jamming signals. Jamming also causes a -4 penalty to all radar guided weapons.
- E.S.M.: Radar Detector, Passively detects other radars being operated.
- FLIR: Forward Looking Infrared. Allows pilot and weapons officer to get visuals on targets at night.
- Laser Navigational System: Allow flight at low altitude without use of Radar. Gives a map of the Terrain.
- +1 to Strike with 20 mm Gun and Mini-Missile Launchers.
+2 to dodge
+4 to dodge while traveling over 250 mph
Special Abilities as a Haunted Vehicle:
- Will of Its Own: The fighter sometimes has a will of its own and carry out up to six actions in a twenty-four hours. This can include refusing to operate, change course, and activate the Phantom's magical abilities. Can even dodge an attack in an emergency and possibly even land the fighter (counts as all actions for a twenty-four hour period.) The Phantom can also make minor actions such as turning lights on, turning on the radio or switching radio stations, and similar actions on its own without counting as an action.
- Spirit Vision: Same as spell “See the Invisible” and used at will by both the aircraft and crew. 2,000 feet (610 meters) range. Can see forces, objects, and creatures which can turn invisible, or are invisible. Can also see vaporous beings and astral bodies.
- Lucky: Once per day, the pilots of the Phantom can re-roll a botched skill roll (piloting skill roll, dodge roll, strike rolls, perception roll, etc.) The fighter does not have the ability to make re-rolls for botched rolls on its own.
- Modification Ability: The Phantom WILL accept modern upgrades and newer systems, the only requirement is that the modification is that they do not ruin the appearance of the fighter. Also note that any new additions will become part of the vehicle, and under her control. Since the fighter cannot repair or rebuild itself, this is the only way the fighter can get itself repaired.
- Natural P.P.E. / Spell Casting: 120, the fighter virtually fairly
hum with magical energy. The energy regenerates at the rate of 12 P.P.E.
per hour. Double P.P.E. and regeneration on ley lines and triple P.P.E.
and regeneration at a Ley Line Nexus. Magical energy can be used by the
fighter’s crew for spell casting. The fighter’s can also cast the following
spells with spells considered to be cast as if cast by a eighth level spell
- Frequency Jamming (15)
Impervious to Energy (20)
Invincible Armor (30)
- Ghost Voices / Sounds: Periodically sounds can be heard coming from the fighter’s radio even though the original radios has been replaced by modern communication equipment. Usually what is heard is radio chatter that appears to be from the Vietnam war. Can appear to be communication from base or from other pilots. In addition, there is sometimes what appear to be snippets of various transmissions which combine together in what appear to be advice that the fighter gives to the crew.
- Nightmare: Any time a crew member (or anyone else) sleeps in the fighter, the will have nightmares and or vivid dreams. As well, this seems to effect crews who fly the fighter more than a few months or ground crews who support the fighter for over six months. In not sleeping in the fighter, they will not have nightmare every night however will have nightmares on average once a week. These dreams will be particularly vivid. Usually these nightmares / vivid dreams will be about times flying over Vietnam. These can be enlightening, or scary and disturbing.
- Power Item: The aircraft will not operate properly unless the Dog Tags originally found in the fighter are in the cockpit. Everey system will seem to have random problems and there is no way that a pilot will be able to take off with the ghost fighter.
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Special Credit to Talis D. Merrill (firstname.lastname@example.org) for many of the concepts and enchantments / powers for Ghost / Haunted vehicles.
Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).
Copyright © 2012, Kitsune. All rights reserved.