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
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.

John Burns, 10.10.2013

I was with the 563rd TFS 1970-1972 working on the T-Stick II mod in Doppler/INS. The latter part of that period I was a Post-Flight Debriefer. I was 21 years old and the time and now 65 years old. Hard to remember names. I will check all of these comments.

Al Roehl, 15.07.2013

Was in from 66-70. Wichita Ks.66-67.Takhli 68.Wichita 69-70 discharge. weapons mech on 105. Worked in gun shop in Wichita and Takhli. Really liked the gun shop. Great plane 105!

Bill Dillard, 12.07.2013

Found this wonderful page hoping to find some information concerning my late father's time as a F-105 pilot. We were stationed at Spangdahlem 60-64 and then at McConnel from 67-70 where he was the 563rd. If anybody knew my father Col. William N Dillard would love to hear from you.

Phil Culver, 17.06.2013

Should'a posted a few dates. Got to McConnell in May 1972, off to Korat in September, back to McConnell for a few more months and then to George April 1973. Retired in Feb 1992 as a SMSgt.

Phil Culver, 17.06.2013

The F-105G Wild Weasel was my first jet after Chanute Tech School. I was an Instruments Technician assigned to the 561 TFS at McConnell AFB, KS. After 3 months of OJT, they ship me off to Korat on a 90 TDY. Being a newbie, I didn't know ( :) ) I had to travel in uniform. Bad choice for me once I got to Travis. Korat was something else as a 19 year old guy. You know what I mean. I worked not only the nickle, but Connies, EB-66, T29s, even a B-57 which IFE'd in. Korat was the only time in 20 years active duty I saw an SR-71. It and a F-105 G looked to be drag racing about 200' altitude going balls out. Back to the States and to George AFB with the 35TFW to continue 105 work. I loved that aircraft. Always wished I got a flight in it. Best I did was a night time trim pad run to full AB. What a kick in the butt.

Kraig Hayner, 11.06.2013

I was the Lead NCO on the Combat Thunder Program for the Inertial / Doppler Radar Section at the Tactical Air Warfare Center (TAWC) at Eglin AFB in the late 60's. I was from the 23 TFW at McConnell AFB and spent my last year of service in Florida. It was rough, but someone had to do it.

SCHRAMMJ, 04.06.2013

My late older brother, Sgt RONALD ALLEN SCHRAM, USAFE, was stationed with 49th TFW as part of the CES in Spangdahlem. They received an AFOUA. Trying to find out WHY the unit received it. Must be a simple answer or resource to look up. Cannot connect the dots. His last part of this tour of the USAFE was at Sembach Germany. Part of the 601st TCW. Love to know more. Thank you in advance. Michael

chief, 17.05.2013

Crew chief 12thTFS Kadena A F B KJ Tague other forward elements 1969 to1971

Jeff Nawman, 13.05.2013

I am looking for anyone who might have flown with or knew my uncle- Major William N. Wright. He flew F105s in Viet Nam and I believe his suqadron left from McConnel AFB to go to Viet Nam. I don't know his squadron number or whether he was based in Thailand or not. Any information would be appreciated.

John G. Shubert, 11.02.2013

I worked on the F-105 B's and D's at Seymour Johnson AFB N.C.
from april 1960 till november 1963. First with 4th CAM Sq then three years with the 334th TFS. These times were very interesting with constant modifications and participating in
cold war crisis's of that time.

Gary Retterbush, 24.01.2013

By Far the best bird I ever had the honor of flying! I flew the first one non-stop from Mobile to Bitburg and flew her at the Paris Air Show. Did a tour at Nellis as an IP and then a tour at Takhli. Flew the last bird home from Spangdahlem for the F4 conversion; a sad day!
Had her at 50 ft AGL and 840 knots with the bomb bay doors open; yes, she could go fast on the deck!
It breaks my heart that there isn't one flying today. It deserves a place in the wild blue yonder.

Alan Bricker, 21.01.2013

I was in the 113th TFW of the D.C.ANG at Andrews AFB when they had F105D & F models. It was a great aircraft to work on. I was in the Weapons/Fire Control team(Radar/Bombing Computer). I've lost touch with the guys from the unit. It would be great to hear from any of them. I am in California now and saw a couple of the F-16's the DCANG now flys at an air show at Moffet NAS and talked w/ the crew. I loved watching and listening to the F-105's taking off and their distinct sound as they fly over. I was proud to see 60-0445 that I worked on, on display at the Air and Space Museum annex at Dulles in such nice shape.

Raymond Boback, 02.12.2012

I was assigned to the 36TFW in Germany. Was there from June of 1964 until June of 1967. We had the 105 D's and F models. Started out in the 336 MMS and then some of this was broken into the 23FS, 22FS and 53FS. The fighter squadrons consisted of the pilot, crew chief and the weapons personnel. I was assigned to the 23FS and was the MJ1 driver of our load crew. We loaded Mk28 and Mk 43,plus all the conventional weapons around at that time. Love working on that plane except when I fell off the wing twice, that's a long drop to the ground. Those wings were slick in the winter. Had some great friends in those squadrons, don't know what happened to a lot of them. Dave Kytola (died in 2011, really miss him), Doyle Wilhite, Bob Sims and so many others. Miss those guys. We had great times in Bitburg bars, especially the Dixie Bar. Spent many trips to Wheelus and loved the sea. Got to work in t-shirts and sometime no shirts due to the heat. Once I went to the restroom in the maintenance office and came off that commode like a bat out of hell when I reached for the toilet paper and a scorpion was sitting on the paper. While at Wheelus some of us got to take rides in the F models, what a kick in the pants. To go on bomb runs and air combat was just great, those gloves came in handy one time. Got to see a lot of Europe, liked most of it. Sometime in 1966 we started to get the F4D's and we lost a great plane in the 105. The F4's were a bunch of junk and so was the Sparrow missile. I hated loading them in the winter. Try loading a nuc. in the winter and connecting the plug. That is what caused me to get frost bite on my fingers. During late 1966 the Air Force was calling for people to go to Nam.
My buddy Dave and I volunteered and were turned down. The reason, they don't have nuc's over there, let them take them out of weapons school. June of 1967 was assigned to Davis-Monthan in Tucson and so were Dave, Doyle and Bob. WE were all short timers when we got there and the four of us were on the same load team. Can't believe how easy it was to re-certify. Loaded one set of weapons, then to the coffee shop for the rest of the day. Just signed off on the rest of the loads that were called for. State side didn't have to do full loads of anything. When we signed on to base and met the squadron commander who reviewed are files, he saw that Dave and I volunteered for Nam and wanted to know if we were still interested, guess what we said, NO Thank You Sir.WE were ask many times to go and promised a stripe before we left and another stripe when we got there. He made it sound very interesting, but with less then 90 days left on our enlistment we turned it down. Was even asked the day we signed off of base. Got to live off base while they remodeled the close barracks. Hell, they lost track of where we were and believed we were in one of the remodeled barracks. They found us when we were ready to be discharged. Loved that 105 and thought it was the best the Air Force had. The should have made more.

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