Ejection Seats and Cockpits, a modelers headache…

All photos are mine except were identified. Information from USN/USAF and Martin baker tec Docs

We’ll start with the F4 Phantom ejection seats.

The first 10 USN F4H-1 airframes flew with McDonald/Stanley seats up till early 1963.

F4H-1 USN photo China lake

Mk-H5 seat, Photo MB

These were pulled in favor of Martin/Baker seats. The initial MB seats were Mk-H5 ballistic seats. Three charges fired in sequence to propelled the airmen out of the F-4 with about an 18G kick. Most crewmen that used a MB seat landed around ½” shorter than just before they pulled the firing handles. Back injuries were fairly common until a Vought crew station engineer named Adkins found out the reason was the “soft” seat pan/survival kit cushion. When the pilot pulled the handle and the seat started to go up, the crewman would actually start to go “down”, when he bottomed out he got a higher than 18G kick. With the hard seat pan, he went up with the seat and back injuries significantly decreased.

On 1 April 1968 the USN published Service Change AFC 307/Service bulletin No. 32SB471, “Emergency Escape System – Incorporation of Rocket Propulsion and Sequencing System”. (ECP-MDA-F-4-605) This was the conversion to rockets.

The seats were pulled, a rocket pack was put on the bottom of the seat pan, the “sugar scoop” (Backrest and Parachute Container Assembly) was removed (retained on the F-8) and the adjustable lumbar pad (if installed) was replaced with a hard case and a new nonadjustable backrest seat pad was installed.

To add interested, some Mk-H5 seats had the nonadjustable lumbar pad. This was changed to the nonadjustable after AFC 274 was incorporated into the seat.

The reason for incorporation of rockets into the seat was to arrest excessive sink rates, most likely encountered in the final stages of trapping on a carrier.

While there are other changes, these are the major ones that tell you if it’s a Mk-H5 or Mk-H7 seat. Aircraft in combat were likely upgraded first, over stateside units. And it is entirely likely that within a Squadron you had both seats for a time (in different airframes). Similar changes went into the F-8 at the same time.

Mk-H7 USMC F-4S circa 1991, note the “Standard Flight Suit” upper block.

Mk-H7AF RF-4C circa 1991

Mk-H7AF Chanute Tech Trainer circa 1990

In March of 1968 the USN was also modifying the Mk-5H seats to increase parachute opening altitude. So the Mk-5 seats stayed around for a number months if not years. I don’t have any information as to when the last Mk-5 was updated to a Mk-7.

Depending on the altitude of the flight some F-4 aircraft were flown by pilots in full pressure suits. This required the change out of Upper block Assembly. The Pressure suit units had the air and O2 lines that extended up to about 60% of the length of the overall assembly. The “Standard Suit” lines were about half as long. However, after AFC ACC 69 was applied and a much shorter Upper Block was installed on all airframes. See drawings below. If you look at the shot of the USMC Mk-H7 seat above you will notice the seat had the “Standard Suit” upper block. The Universal Block had not been installed as of Jn 1992 on all aircraft.

Rigid Survival Kit F-4A/B/G & RF-4B
Mk-H7 Seat pack USMC #52 Standard Flight Suit, #51 Full Pressurized suit

Upper Block, L - R, Full Pressure Suit, Standard Pressure Suit, Universal Block

Mk-H7 USMC Seat Pack circa 1991

However a Navy doc I have, NAVAIR 01-245FDB-2-2.1 Dated 15 July 1972 w Change 1 1 January 1975 has both Mk-H5 and Mk-H7 seats listed. The bottom line is look closely at the seat in your references. If it has a metal sugar scoop, it’s a Mk-H5. If the top of the chute pack is light gray to white looking, and that’s all you can see, it’s a Mk-H7.

F-4D 65-0786 Mk-H7AF dark chute pack 8th TFW Yokota AFB 7-4-78 Transferred to ROK

The F-4 RAF/FAA seats (Mk-5A & 7A) differed from the American seats (Mk-H5, H5A, H5AF, H7 H7AF). While the USN (I have Mk-H7AF USAF shots with the O2 connection on the Lft side) seats had the Upper block Assembly that connected to the back Lft corner of the seat cushion unit, the Brit services favored a personal equipment disconnect block mounted on the aft Lft or Rt side of the seat back. See MB drawings below. Later in service life the Brits added thigh guard extensions to their seats, this was in the final years of the Brits flying the F-4.

Final Type 7A Mk3, RAF RN, Photo MB

So could you have an F-4 in the early 70’s with a Mk-H5 seat? Possibly. But frontline Combat deployed units likely had the H7 conversion early on. While RAG (Replacement Air Group) units in the states or non-combat units stationed around the world likely had H5 seats for a time. I would say after 1975 they were on the rare side.

F-4D Mk-H7AF 65-0654 179FIS “Dino10” 2-21-90

F-4C Mk-H7AF Frt USAFM 8-88

NF-4E Mk-H7AF 66-0319 66-0294 EDW (Edwards) 3-80

RF-4C Mk-H7AF 65-0843 117TRW Birmingham BHM 6-29-91

RF-4C Mk-H7AF 65-0854 117TRW Birmingham BHM 6-29-91

F-4S Mk-H7 153814 back Seat VMFA-321 NASADW 5-18-1990

F-4S Mk-H7 153887 MG00 VMFA-321 NASADW (Andrews) 2-18-89

F-4S Mk-H7 153904 MG000 VMFA-321 NASADW (Andrews) 5-23-91

F-4S Mk-H7 153904 MG000 VMFA-321 MAg-41-Det”A” NASADW (Andrews) 5-28-1991

F-4S Mk-H7 155900 VMFA-321 NASADW 5-28-1991

F-4S Mk-H7 VMFA-321 NASADW 5-28-1991

Mk-H5 circa April 1963 MB Photo

MB-H5 Apr-1963 Soft survival kit MB-Photo


Mk-H5 4 view, originally published by me in PriFly, DC IPMS Chapter Pub

F-4J Mk-H5 Universal Upper Block

F-4J Mk-H7 Universal Upper Block

Type-A5 Phantom FG Mk1

Type-A7 Phantom FG Mk1

Type-A7 Phantom FG Mk3



Awesome!! Thanks for posting.

Very informative indeed and thanks for sharing. We sure need a good 1/32 Mk H5 Ejection Seat.

The T/A-37 seat is an interesting system and a good example of evolution. From the initial seat utilizing a Franklin Arsenal ballistic catapult to a rocket propelled seat with state of the art stabilization systems.

The initial seat configuration with the M-4 catapult was a simple head rest, that was flat. In 1959 they upgraded the catapult to the M-5 unit. Initial envelope was roughly minimum altitude of 2000”. Below 2000’ a Zero second delay lanyard was utilized to facilitate rapid seat separation. Then they upgraded the headrest to afford better helmet stability with the addition of a bult up headrest and a notch. Eventually the 0-0 system was installed with the inclusion of two seat back rockets in addition to the ballistic catapult.

Finally the addition of Talley rockets to the seat via TO 1A-37-550 likely around Sep 1983. Even with the addition of rockets the seat was not a 0/0 seat. The seat envelope is for speeds above 80 Kts and 100’ of altitude. The system will propel the electee up to an altitude of 165’ with the cute opening around 155’

It’s interesting to note the 1993 Release Monogram kit was likely based on the A-37B aircraft stationed at Peoria Ill, with the Rocket seats. These were not used in Viet Nam.

‘The Trumpeter release dating from 2014 likely were based on “modern” A-37B configurations.

The Aires cockpit for the Monogram and Trumpeter kits are likely the best Viet Nam era configuration.

A-37B cockpit, pilot side

A-37B cockpit, copilot side

Initial seat in the T-37A Webber seat model 75124

Updated headrest T-37A

Webber seat in the T-37, , in this case in a US Army aircraft.
Initial seat configuration flat headrest, up to late 1980

Seat Catapult housing

Talley modified Copilot seat back, less M-5 catapult. The springs are used as counter weights to adjust the seat up and down.

Pilot seat

Copilot seat

Pilot gunsight

Cockpit Inst Panel, pilot

I took this shot while I was going through the US Army Maintenance Officer/Test Pilots course at Ft Eustis VA, Oct 80-Mar 81. I would routinely hit the T line at Langley AFB on the weekends. The initial configuration of the seat headrests is evident. This is likely the configuration a Viet Nam era aircraft should look like. Within a couple of years the seat headrest would be modified and eventually the addition of rockets to the seatbacks.

I have one shot of an A-37B with black headrests taken in 81-82…


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A-10 is an interesting bird. The prototype that crashed in Paris had an F-105 seat. Then they put ESCAPAC seats in it and then finally put the ACESII seat into it. the F-15A/B also used the same seat.

Starting with A-10A 79-0173 the A-10’s had ACESII seats. The rest of the fleet got them retrofitted. as an interesting side note the bird was named “The Full Armor of God” and is presently on display at the Bradley Airport in Connecticut at the New England Air Museum.

Basic layout of the A-10A TO 1A-10A 20 Feb 83

Dimensions of the A-10A seat as installed

While this is a T-46A seat, with the exceptions of the canopy breakers, they are the same. The A-10A breakers appear to be slightly smaller. Webber Photo.

Edwards AFB Open House 1982 or 1983, I don’t remember at the moment but probably ‘83, ACES or ESCAPAC?

Nice shot!

Thats an ACES II seat. Given the time it might be an early instillation. Without a Tail No. hard to tell. Canopy breakers actually look a bit on the low side, the generally are just above the headbox as they break the canopy and allow the rest of the seat to come through. Interestingly enough the AF really hated the idea of having a pilot go through the canopy. In most cases it delays the ejection by around a second.

But going through the canopy is the quickest way to stepping out, even if the pilot sometimes gets cut up by the canopy edges. The Brits use DET cord on the canopy to shatter it and create a larger envelope than needed buy the seat/pilot.

These were taken in 1977, long before they put the ACESII into production. They were taken at Ft Irwin (AKA NTC - National Desert Training Center) on Bike Lake in the “high desert’, 2400”, seat installed was an ESCAPAC. I was flying DUSTOFF ops in support of an exercise. We were based out of Ft Hood with the 3/507th Med CO, “Lifesavers”. My Call sigh was “lifesaver 10”.

Overall view Ft Aft, the birds bot really dirty as the lakebed airfield was just that a dry lakebed.

A-10A front office

the ESCAPA seats in this installation had a black headrest.

The set of rings just behind the seat is for the pilot’s helmet bag. Interesting detail, not sure if it’s ever been “published” before…

Better shot of the ESCAPAC seat as the pilot goes through the start process. Shortly after this the AF decided “white” helmets served as “aiming” points.


That’s the original 70’s MASK A-10A scheme… before the greens and gray Charcoal Lizard scheme of the 80’s. Very nice photos!

Thanks, they are scans from some old negatives. Back then I was shooting with a Nikon F2A and had not adopted the policy of shooting AC only with K25 slides. The negs were really beaten up over the years, and heat damaged.

Some of the birds had the false canopy on the bottom, some didn’t.

Nice to have people here that were or are hands on with the subjects we model . The photos and the personal insight really add depth to the hobby .
Thanks for sharing.
Cheers- RT


I just wish I was as interested in helo’s as I am now. There were a lot of unique 58A’s and AH-1G around the airfield!


Couple more shots of the A-10A’s. One of the shots was a bird that flew up to Irwin. This was not one of the 4 A-10A’s that was operating from the lakebed. The Lft wing and engine pod actually had a wraparound gray paint scheme. I don’t think I have a record of the ships TN.

75-272 was interesting in that the upper surface dark gray stopped at the wing root, and not like the other birds that had the dark gray down the spine. 75-272 also lacks the false canopy on the bottom of the bird.

The last shot is a “live” 30mm shell handled by one of the armorers. Needless to say this shot would probably cause all kinds of problems for the armorer today in that it has a certain suggestive “look”…

I miss the good old days in the military…

I also hope someone decides to do an A-10A in the original finish. Within a couple of years, the Lizard scheme took hold…



I’m planning on doing one of those original production MASK A-10A schemes someday. I need to get another early type kit for that project. I already have one slated for a Desert Storm Warthog, and another for the experimental JAWS scheme.

My vote would be 75-272, or maybe the bird with the darker gray under wing, but I have no idea what the TN is…

But I’ll keep digging to see if I have a shot of it.


Pucara, the Argentine hot rod. Martin Baker Mk-6HA

DoD image

MB image
Headbox is unique to the Pucara.

Scale view of Mk-6HA seat, based on MB blueprints

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The Harrier series has had a number of seats installed.

The initial seat in the first Harrier’s was a Mk-9 rocket seat. The US replaced the Mk-9 seat with a Stencel S-III-S seat in order to get the pilot under a canopy quicker. the AV-8B utilizes the SJU-4

Brit birds that participated in the Falklands OPS had the Mb-10H seats. Overall color was similar to Dark Sea Grey

This is a Mk-12 Light Weight that is offered for color reference only

Drawing of the Mk-10H seat

Mk-10H with the pilot, in this case the IA10B-1 seat is as fitted to the Indian Navy, retired circa 2016

Skyhawk A-4B

ESCAPAC 1A-1 seat did not have a separation rocket, referred to as the “Ear burner” found on many other ESCAPAC seats.

Colors for the cockpit and seat are generally Dark Gull Grey. For head headrest refer to pictures if possible. USN seats varied from Dk Gull Grey to black.

The 1A-1 seat denoted the addition of “snubbing lines” attached to the bottom of the seat. These keep the seat perpendicular to the direction of travel of the A-4 at the time of ejection. Later modes included STENCEL Moda. The idea was to prevent the seat from tumbling.

Parts to the ESCAPAC 1A-1 seat ID’ed. As a point of interest, the seat Ejection control Safety Handle is referred to as the “Headknocker”

A-4B/C/E ESCAPAC 1A-1 and A-4F/M and TA-4F/J Headbox changes and the inclusion of the Ear Bruener.

While the attached image is a ESCAPAC 1G-2 seat out of an A-7E, taken at Pax River in 1986, it’s provided for color reference. Colors are similar to the 1A-1 seats.

Of interest is the A-4’s provided to the Argentine’s did not receive regular scheduled maintenance and a lot of the Pyrotechnics were “out of date”. One ejection by an Argentine pilot almost ended in disaster when the seat partially malfunctioned due to a pyro failure.

OV-1 Mohawk

When I served at Ft hood, first in the 1st Cav, then the 218th RC (Crash rescue) and finally with the 3/507 Dustoff unit we had an OV-1 unit at Robert Gray AAF.

The Bug-Eyed bird was fascinating. During the 73 Arab Isalei war a contingent of IDS officers came to Ft Hood. They wanted all the Sherman tanks on display. Their repeated requests were politely turned down. At the time they were putting a 105mm gun in the Shermans and they gave as good as they got.

However when the got out to Gray AAF they fell in love with the OV-1D’s the MI Unit had. rumor has it that three OV-1D aircraft departed for the Middle East. What made life interesting was the birds were kept on the books of the MI unit. Made for some interesting comments when the IG inspectors inquired about the three aircraft that were on the books but “missing”. The only thing the MI folks would say was “No comment” on the location of the birds.

The seats in the early 70’s were in the Mk-J5C configuration. later in the late 1975 (I think) the seats were updated to the Mk-J5D with a hardpack chute case and a “Tip Compensating Rocket”, that kept the seat from tumbling. I’m not sure why they never installed rockets on the seat, as an engine failure at GW on takeoff would result in a snap roll into the failed engine.

All total the OV-1 had multiple Martin Baker seats, Mk-J5, J5A, J5B, J5C and final seat the J5D.

The Mk-J5 had a simplified harness. The subsequent seats had changes to the harness and sequencing equipment.

Mk-J5D seat taken at Chanute AFB in Jan 91.

Two views of the Mk-J5D seat, Marting Baker drawing from my files.

The configuration of the Mk-J5 seat with soft cases.

Some of the earliest drawing I did on ejection seats, in this case the Mk-J5C based on the drawing and info in TM 55-1680-255-24 circa 1974

The original seat was the Mk-J5, this configuration had the initial seat harness.

Colors, per MB:
Seat frame overall Matt Black
Parachute pack and harness J5 Tan, J5D Olive Drab
Survival packs J5 Yellow, J5D Lt Olive Drab
Cushions J5 brown leather, J5D Olive Drab
Back pads J5 tan, J5D Olive Drab
Leg restraints Right leg Blue, Left leg white (all Mk-5)
Seat Firing & override Handles Yellow Black All Mk-5
Rocket motors White
Head Rest Pad J5 Tan

Close up of OV-1D 67-18899 156 MI GA Army NG Dobbins AFB, Mk-J5D final seat