EMI Recce Pod
In 1964 the Labour government of Harold Wilson cancelled the P1154 and TSR-2 programmes, leaving the RAF without obvious replacements for the Hunter and Canberra in the fighter, ground attack and reconnaissance roles. The RAF eventually decided to follow the Royal Navy's decision to purchase the McDonnell Douglas F-4 and in Feb 65 placed an order for 118 F-4's to take over the roles of the Hunter and Canberra. In RAF service the Phantom was known as the FGR2, with the initials standing for Fighter, Ground Attack and Reconnaissance.
The F-4 OCU at Coningsby was formed in Aug 1968 and the initial output of graduates formed the ground attack squadrons in Germany and UK. The first dedicated F-4 reconnaissance squadron to form was 2 Sqn based at Laarbruch in Germany which stood up in Dec 70. This was followed by 41 Sqn at Coningsby which formed in Apr 72. Only some thirty F-4's were specially wired to carry the EMI reconnaissance pod and these aircraft equipped 2 and 41 squadrons.
It was originally intended that reconnaissance would become the chief secondary role for the FGR2 and to equip the recce squadrons for this role, EMI was contracted to design, build and deliver a dedicated reconnaissance pod. Using a considerable amount of technology originally developed for the TSR2 reconnaissance systems, EMI eventually created the biggest, most capable and most expensive reconnaissance pod of the 1960s. To ensure the pod could be safely carried underneath the FGR2 on the centreline store, with sufficient ground clearance, the pod was made roughly the same dimensions as a 500gal external fuel tank.
The EMI pod usually carried forward, vertical and oblique F95 70mm and one F135 cameras together with an EMI P391 Q band SLAR with mapping and MTI capability and a roll stabilised Texas Instruments RS-700 IR linescan. For night photography four F135 cameras could be carried in the pod and electronic flash equipment was carried in a separate pod carried under the wing. For special tasks, a F126 vertical camera and an F95 oblique camera with a 12in focal lens could also be fitted. For various reasons the pods proved unreliable and were something of an expensive flop. The EMI reconnaissance pods were eventually withdrawn from service with almost indecent haste, indeed 2 Sqn were only equipped with the pod for barely a year. Most of the pods were dismantled and some of the equipment eventually found its way into the smaller recce pod that equipped the Jaguar's when they eventually took over the role of tactical reconnaissance from the FGR2 in 1976.