Jet engine returns home to Wattisham

May 2024 saw the return to Wattisham of a General Electric J79 turbojet engine. This engine had last flown in February 1991, when fitted in 74 Sqn Phantom F-4J ZE360 “Oscar” as it made its last flight from Wattisham into Manston in Kent.

The engine is owned by British Phantom Aviation Group and is being loaned to us for display.

Twenty-three years later and the engine made a slightly more sedate return journey to Wattisham on the back of a truck. Departing Manston during the morning it finally reached Wattisham during the afternoon, and was carefully off-loaded into a suitable display location inside the Museum Hardened Aircraft Shelter.

It is positioned in the opposite location to the already displayed Rolls Royce Spey engine to allow visitors to compare and contrast the two very different Phantom powerplants.

The Phantom was an American designed multi-role carrier borne jet fighter which was originally powered by General Electric J79s. When the UK chose to purchase Phantoms, the MoD had the aircraft re-designed to utilise Rolls Royce Spey engines instead. All the Royal Air Force F-4M and Fleet Air Arm F-4Ks were fitted with Spey engines, but when an addition purchase of Phantoms was required after the Falklands War F-4J aircraft were provided to 74 Sqn, fitted with the standard US General Electric J79 engines. It is one of these engines which is now back home at Wattisham.

Thanks go to everybody involved in the transfer of this exhibit to Wattisham.

Phantom engine comparisons:

General Electric J79Rolls Royce Spey
Axial flow turbojetLow bypass turbofan
F-4JF-4K, F-4M
1,740 kg weight1,856 kg weight
11,870 lb dry thrust12,140 lb dry thrust
17,900 lb trust with reheat20,515 lb thrust with reheat

Above, a side by side comparison of the two Phantom engines, and below is a gallery of images of the J79 arrival and off-load.