The F-4E is essentially an F-4D with improved J79-GE-17 engines (900 pounds more static sea level thrust each) and an M61A1 "Vulcan" 20mm cannon. Operational experience gained in Vietnam had a direct influence on the addition of the cannon. The air-to-air missile fire-to-hit ratios were low and air combat usually degenerated to subsonic "dogfighting" where the F-4 was at a decided disadvantage when flying against more maneuverable enemy aircraft (MiG-17 and MiG-21). The hydraulically powered wing-folding mechanism and the emergency ram-air turbine were removed to save weight and a seventh fuel cell was added. The addition of self-sealing fuel tanks starting with block 41 aircraft lowered the fuel capacity by 139 gallons but provided much better combat survivability.

The USAF Thunderbirds used the F-4E from June 1969 until November 1973, replacing it with the Northrop T-38, in part, because of the public perception of unacceptably high operating costs for the F-4E.

McDonnell Douglas produced 5,057 F-4s, of which 1370 were F-4Es. Mitsubishi received 11 F-4 kits and built 127 of their F-4EJs under license, bringing the total to 5,195 airframes. The USAF ordered 993 E models, but more than 100 were diverted or direct delivered to other nations. The F-4 was flown by the USAF, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Germany, Spain, Iran, Turkey, Greece and Egypt.

The National Museum of the United States Air Force has several F-4 variants on display, including the F-4C, the RF-4C, the YF-4E, the F-4G and an F-4 cockpit mockup.

Type Number built/
converted Remarks
F-4A 47 USN/USMC; F4H-1F
F-4B 649 USN/USMC; 29 loaned to USAF
RF-4B 46 USMC; F4H-1P
F-4C 583 From F-110A
RF-4C 505 From RF-110A
F-4D 825 Improved F-4C
F-4E 1,370 Improved F-4D
F-4EJ 140 Japanese F-4E
RF-4E 149 Exp. version
RF-4EJ 14 Japanese RF-4E
F-4F 175 Export F-4E for Germany
F-4G 116 (cv) Wild Weasel
F-4K 52 Royal Navy; FG.1
F-4M 118 Royal Air Force; FGR.2
F-4N 238 (cv) USN/USMC; from F-4B
F-4S 248 (cv) USN/USMC; from F-4J
F-4T 0 Export proposal

· F-4A was originally designated F4H-1F (and XF4H-1) by the U.S. Navy.
· Dual-control F-4As were redesignated TF-4A.
· F-4B was originally designated F4H-1 by the U.S. Navy.
· RF-4B was originally designated F4H-1P by the U.S. Marine Corps.
· Seven F-4Bs were converted to QF-4B drone aircraft.
· F-4C was originally designated F-110A by the USAF.
· The U.S. Navy loaned the USAF 29 F-4Bs for service evaluation (see F-110A).
· Twelve F-4Gs (Navy designation) were out of service before the USAF F-4G "Wild Weasel" aircraft were converted from F-4Es.
· 138 of 140 F-4EJs were built in Japan.
· 32 F-4Ds were built for the Iranian Air Force.
· The USAF F-4G was initially designated EF-4E.

USAF F-4 numbers:
· F-4C -- 583 [does not include 29 F-4Bs (F-110A) on loan from U.S. Navy]
· RF-4C -- 505
· F-4D -- 793
· F-4E -- 993 (116 later converted to F-4G) (as ordered, some E models diverted/direct delivered to other nations)
· TOTAL: 2,874

Span: 38 ft. 5 in.
Length: 63 ft. 0 in.
Height: 16 ft. 6 in.
Weight: 61,795 lbs. maximum takeoff
Armament: Various combinations of bombs, rockets, missiles and 20mm cannon; up to 16,000 lbs. of external stores including nuclear and conventional bombs
Engines: Two General Electric J79-GE-17 of 17,900 lbs. thrust each with afterburner
Crew: Two

Combat speed: 1,245 knots (ferry mission with one 600 gal. and two 370 gal. external tanks)
Cruising speed: 504 knots average speed, cruise-climb profile; 32,800 ft initial, 40,400 ft. final in 2.79 hours
Range: 1,401 nautical miles (ferry mission)
Service ceiling: 58,750 ft., maximum power, 100 FPM climb rate