Republic F-105 Thunderchief
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Republic F-105 Thunderchief

The Republic F-105 Thunderchief, or company model AP-63, was conceived in 1951 as a nuclear strike aircraft with an internal bomb bay, but won renown for hauling bombs externally in a conventional war. Alexander Kartveli's design team originally intended a straight fuselage for the craft but, after seeing NACA data assembled by Richard Whitcomb, was won over by the wasp-waist or 'area rule' configuration which enhanced transonic flight performance. At first intended for the Allison J71 engine and powered in prototype form by the Pratt & Whitney J57, the F-105 attained its successes with the 7802kg thrust Pratt & Whitney J75-P-19W turbojet which provided 11113kg thrust with afterburning. Its mid-mounted wing, swept 60 degrees, the F-105 stood high on its tricycle gear and was a big, brutish machine, yet it conveyed an image of sleekness and grace slicing through the air. Development of the aircraft was by no means without its difficulties, and things had only begun when two J57-powered YF-105As commenced flying 22 October 1955, soon followed by 15 aircraft designated JF-105B and F-105B for test programmes.

Production F-105Bs, long delayed by development problems, began to roll from Republic's Farmingdale line during 1958 and the USAF accepted its first machine on 27 May 1958. The 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron, temporarily moved to Eglin AFB, Florida, began to work up in the new aircraft only to find that, given its complexity and production slippages, it would not become operational until 1960. Meanwhile, a two-seat strike variant, the F-105C, had reached the mock-up stage but was not built. Though technical problems persisted and critics were calling the 'Thud' a maintenance nightmare, Republic proceeded with the F-105D variant which afforded true, all-weather capability by introducing General Electric FC-5 fully integrated automatic flight fire-control system. The F-105D's fuselage was lengthened by 0.381m. Some 610 were manufactured, and first flight took place at Farmingdale 9 June 1959. The F-105D model soon equipped all three squadrons of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina. United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) were the first overseas recipient of the F-105D, the 36th TFW at Bitburg AB, West Germany re-equipping from 12 May 1961 and the 49th TFW at Spangdahlem soon following. In the early 1960s, with a war growing in Asia, F-105Ds joined the 18th TFW at Kadena AFB, Okinawa.

The F-105D was by now a proven ordnance-carrier. With multiple ejector racks (MER), it could carry an impressive load of external fuel, ECM gear, and eight 340kg bombs on long-range missions. The F-105D could also operate with the Martin AGM-12 Bullpup air-to-surface missile, which was to prove remarkably ineffective against 'hard' targets in Vietnam and would be observed bouncing off the Thanh Hoa Bridge. In addition, the F-105D model could carry 70mm rocket pods, napalm canisters and the AIM-9 infra-red (IR) air-to-air missiles, while its integral M61A1 Gatling-type 20-mm cannon proved invaluable in the dual roles of air-to-air combat and air-to-ground strafing. A late-model variant of the F-105D was the F-105D T-Stick II fitted with additional avionics which bestowed all-weather bombing capability, housed in a prominent dorsal fairing extending along the spine of the fuselage to the tail.

The F-105E was another two-seat variant that was not developed. A two-seat Thunderchief was inevitable, however, and in May 1962 Republic proceeded with the F-105F. This model, which made its first flight 11 June 1963, was some 900kg heavier as well as slightly longer than earlier Thunderchiefs in order to accommodate the second crewman in tandem; 143 F-105Fs were delivered and 61 were later reconfigured for the electronic warfare or 'Wild Weasel' role in Vietnam, at first under their original designation and later as the F-105G.

The F-105D, F-105F and F-105G all fought in North Vietnamese skies, the F-104D model fighter-bomber so extensively that over half of the 610 built eventually fell to Hanoi's air defences. After withdrawal from South East Asia in 1969-70, the Thunderchief soldiered on in Reserve and Air National Guard units, eventually flying its final sortie in 1984. At one time no fewer than 14 USAF and 11 ANG squadrons operated the type, which was built to the extent of 833 examples. Perhaps because of its complexity, no F-105 was ever exported.

Republic F-105 Thunderchief

 ENGINE1 x Pratt & Whitney J75-P-19W, 76.5kN
    Take-off weight23967 kg52838 lb
    Empty weight12474 kg27501 lb
    Wingspan10.59 m35 ft 9 in
    Length19.61 m64 ft 4 in
    Height5.97 m20 ft 7 in
    Wing area35.77 m2385.02 sq ft
    Ceiling12560 m41200 ft
    Range w/max.fuel3846 km2390 miles
 ARMAMENT1 x 20mm cannon, 6350kg of weapons

Republic F-105 Thunderchief

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60 61-80 81-100 101-120 121-140 141-160
Louis Hurtado, USAF RET, 23.02.2015

I was crew chief in 388tFW, 469th TFS 1968-1969. I was night shift crew chief on F-105D 220. Moved to 34th TFS after 469th broke up and transitioned to F-4E. I did second tour at Takhli with 44th TFS on F-105D 0076 JUlY - DEC 1970. Finished tour back at Korat DEC - April 1972.

Ed Rock, 11.02.2015

Flew the 105 for 10 years on and off. 35th TFS, 4526th, 354th, 13th, 333rd, 561st, 17th WWS. Always brought me home!

Eldred Duane Mitchell, 10.02.2015

This is my favorite aircraft. I loaded munitions on her during the Vietnam war. I was at Korat RTAB, Thailand, 388TFW 13TFS, June 1966 to June 1967. I kept a daily log of what munitions my team loaded on the THUD and I still have that log today. Many good memories here.

Bill Willey, 07.02.2015

Started with the B-29 & B-36, recip eng.B-52/KC-135 jet tech 43270, Fairchild, Spangdahlem F100 & F105, J-75 repair shop, test cell, flightline, Nellis , Korat, McConnel, F-43270, Nellis F-111, 1951-1972 retired. F-105, many hours in Acft & trim pad. The "Thud", my favorite.

Paul Scott, 18.01.2015

Classic aircraft - one of the earliest successes after the Sabre, of the American aircraft industry, truly brilliant machine!

Robert Sehl, 10.11.2014

Like this site. Nice to hear from some former 462xx0 troops.

Ralph Cabrera, 08.11.2014

i was a crew chief on the T Stick II Acft in the 563RD TFS at McConnell AFB. My Acft was 61-0044, balls 44. Any former crew chiefs out there, get in touch.

Tom Septembre, 29.08.2014

Crew Chief F-105s Korat, Thailand, Sep. 67 - Oct. 68, 34TFS; TDY EB-66 Takhli.

My first pilot, Major "Digger" Odell A/C#24236, Call ISAIAH 6:8. Shot Down over N. Vietnam Oct 68. Returned home with the last POW group.
I remember the first aircraft assigned to me had no tail section due to major combat damage. One night we borrowed a good tail section from the engine run up pad. No one missed it.
I also remember our pilots coming back with barely airworthy aircraft due to new ventilation holes and pieces of wings missing. The line truck picked me up once to help with one that slid down the runway with no brakes and no drag shoot and the one that a wheel came off and slammed into the revetment wall a few feet from me. That I will never forget nor when Isaiah 6:8 did not return.

On another topic, I am seeking to contact any of my fellow ground crew who have been successful in obtaining VA Agent Orange disability. Please respond by email.

Thank you for letting me serve with you. I am glad that you all have kept this page up.

Becky Purcell arts, 05.08.2014

My dad was at Korat with 12TAC FTR Squadron. 1964-1965.
Capt. Robert B. Purcell. On July 27,1965 he was shot down & was POW for almost 8 years. I would love to find the crew chief that helped him into the Thunderchief on that day. I have a name, N Fetrucci who I know worked along side him from Jan. - June 1965.obe found 3 C/Cs that know & have worked with him but not on that July day. Daddy died aost 5 years ago. I would welcome any help. Thank you.
Becky Purcell Arts

Al Roehl, 04.07.2014

Yes I was a weapons mech.Was at McConnel 66-67 Then Takhli in 68. Back to McConnel till discharge in Jan 70 Loaded everything on my crew.Overseas I worked in gun shop. Loved the gun shop. Lots of gun jams. knew the M-61 well Worked on it till I was out

Ron Mead, 07.06.2014

Worked as a loader at McConnel from 1972 to 1973. Then moved with them to George until 1978 when they started going to the Guard. Was a great plane. Anybody else out there who was a weapons loader on them

Denny Waite, 09.05.2014

We are going to mount a F-105 in the air here in Tupelo MS. Does anyone know how to get the bomb bay doors open without cutting on the plane? Ours does have the fuel tank still in it also. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

HGF, 17.02.2014

Yes I do, I was there.

Steve Hartford, 17.02.2014

Does anyone remember the 32day period when the 23rd lost 13 aircraft? There was a mid air, running out of fuel and target fixation and other situations

Mike (Tug) Hogan a1/c, 16.02.2014

I was a crew chief on the f100 & f105 49 tfw at Spangdahlem Ger. 59-62. Don't remember a Sgt Ron Shram. I loved to see start up at night. Also on the run up pad in afterburner. Lot's of good memories of the f105 & Germany. Was in the 8th tfw when first arrived. Many tdy's to Wheelus in Libya.

MSG Stephen Oles (USARET), 26.01.2014

I served with the 418th MMS, 18th TAC FTR Wing at Kadena. June 64- Dec 65. Duty with the the Ready Line delivery section and later Munitions Control (MC). I worked MC night shift, so it was tough to sleep during the day when test engines were run up to full AB. So many memories and story's and an exciting time. Re-belted so much 20 mm Ball. I believe we were the first to fly combat in VN. Two outstanding Unit Citations. Six months after I rotated, unit was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal. Also built and assisted in loading the thud with 750's, 2.75 rockets W/HEAT heads, MK-82's. and some BLU-1B Napalm. Room mate was a weapons troop always TDY to SEA, so I practically had the room to myself. One time I assisted in the de-arm for a bird coming in from Japan. Pilot refused to open bomb bay doors. After a few threats, he opened the doors and there six Kawasaki motorcycles hanging in the bay. We told him to close the doors and move out (I know nothing). Also rode shotgun on Nuc delivery during an ORI, armed with a .45. Was told NO ONE was to get closer than 50 ft of the weapon. An inspector (Lt Col) wanted to inspect for safety and kept coming closer. Told him to stop and had to draw my weapon (don't even remember if it was loaded), and he stopped. Don't know who was more scared, me or him. Later in 64 early 65, we really got away from practice munitions and went to the real stuff. Loved the rock and the Thud. Nothing more beautiful than Kadena runway at night, with thuds taking off with full AB. Volunteered to go to VN or Thailand, but was always refused. Don't know if I'm lucky or not. Recently stopped at a small war museum that had a thud on a pedestal. Researched with curator, and found that particular bird was at Kadena the same time I was (what a thrill). Trying to find a 418th MMS patch for that time with no luck. God bless to all the "BB" stackers and muzzle loaders (461XX0/462XX0)past and present.

Don Bequette [ Biscuit], 25.12.2013

Bitburg Germany. Lord, what a cold duty station that was. If I only could go back. Raymond Boback. I served with you in the 23rd. Yes, the wing of the 105 took no prisoners. I took a fall off that high wing attempting to break loose the pylon cap while down loading a wing tank. Did not know it at the time, but broke my back. Still paying for that miscue. I was the cockpit man on load team 20. All of my team members are still living and I stay in touch with them still. Doyle Wilhite and I went to high school together and ultimately roomed together. We ran around in his Austin Healy sprite and had a hell of a good time. Small world isn't it? The guys on my team were Dante Biagi, Dave Nutzel And Thelton Alexander. Great bunch of guys. Do you remember BEFOLG? NCOIC . Name was Earnist Stairwalt. The acronym stood for Big Earny F***s over little guys. Yep! The 105, she was a beautiful bird. As the cockpit man, I was lucky in that I was out of the weather while you, driving the MJ-1 was out in the rain. Doyle is hanging tough. He got his butt in a sling for shooting a dog running deer on his property. And he did pay DEERLY for that indiscretion. I must say, the three years I spent at Bitburg were the most enjoyable in my 70 years I have walked this earth. I always enjoyed TDY at Wheelus and like yourself, I really loved the Med. I don't know if you remember Fitzmaurice. His crew were wet bore sighting the cannon at the wet bore sight pit. Fitz was in the observation bunker down range. His team members slipped some HEI in for test fire rather than ball ammo. Burned the target cloth all to hell and Fitz said it sounded like someone was heaving pea gravel on the bunker door. Drop me a line and we can reminisce. Biscuit

Terry McGinnis, 17.12.2013

Anyone remember my dad (Scott McGinnis)as a crew chief on 105s at Kadena during 66-68? Terry McGinnis

Al Roehl, 08.12.2013

Have not heard from anyone that I served with. Sure would like to. Was in Wichita before and after Takhli. Worked for John Quinn-T-set in the gun shop.Can't remember a lot of names from back then. If any one remembers me sure would love to hear from you. Have a great holiday. Al Roehl

Phil Culver, 24.10.2013

John Burns, I don't remember many people at McConnell in 72, but I do remember a Jim Zink who recently got back from Nam as a Huey door gunner. He had hair gel long hair tucked up under his hat which he never took off. I believe he was a buck sergeant. I also remember a SSgt Burkett, who was my trainer. Burkett had some burn scaring on his face. Why? I don't know.

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