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
Corky, 08.03.2011

I was first stationed at McConnell in Oct of 67 right out of basi of c training at Amarillo Tex working on F-105 B,D,Fs and G models then I went to Korat for a year in May 68 to May of 69 as an engine mechanic. In

Mike Heffron, 06.03.2011

The Thud was my baby during my 4 year enlistment; Inertial & Doppler Nav Tech. Started at McConnell in 1968. In 69' I was sent to Eglin AFB to be part of the original T-Stick test team. The 105's were all fitted with doppler nav in an outboard starboard bay. The T Stick placed an inertial nav system in the "turtle deck" running along the top. Great duty on that team; the birds (just 2 if I recall) would fly in the AM. When they returned we'd check the system out, try to diagnose the issue then head to the beach as the contractor took over. 3 months of that then off to Kadena and real work again. Spent the rest of my enlistment with the 18th TAC and most of that time TDY to Korea (KJ and Tageau), Thailand (Korat), Japan, Guam and PI when we booked out for "Phoons". Made a few short TDY trips in VN with the Wing's C-130 Aug E's. Loved the 105 and preferred working on the Thud than the F-4's. The inertial nav on the F-4's were a bitch just to get to!

william sauers, 03.03.2011

The F105 was my last fighter,I loved her.My previous were F100 and the F-19(S.V.N.L-19 designated F-19 when she got 2.75 rockets With 3.75 W.P.warheads for target marking. You could destroy most of the target with a fighter pilots deadeye hit.) Choice of aircraft and command REWARD for setting up the air war in SVN I chose TAC and the F105,trnd at nellis but got shut down for birds blowing up mid air, finished transition a Mc Connell in time for the Gulf of Tonkin crisis,oooppps, been there 2 times before Cuban Missle and ALO/FAC Crisis. 3's a charm, I guess. As a new Capt. and still the Jr. Officer the 523rd tfs,23tfw was off to Tahli Thialand(of course we weren't there? got a AIR FORCE COMMENDATION as mobility officer , and being called to set up to take a flight of 4 our eqpt and me back to Saigon to fly missions to show F-105's were there!!!! Any way I was the only pilot in the Squadron with 1 year of combat time,so I outranked the others, including 2 of my flight mates , who stayed and became Generals A.@R.Well we did what our sweet F105 was capable, and not reported anywhere, we flew missions carrying 12x750# bombs. Our targets were the tunnel area at AnSon the iron triangle,an old area where they used to fire at my F-19,BAD KARMA for them, I came back. I have pics to prove the load and our launches. The F105 range was way less but we could get to 24,000' and you had to use AFTERBURNER TO ROLL IN AND REGAIN SPEED,RELEASING YOUR BOMBS AND KEEPING YOU FINGER READY TO JETTISON THE RACKS SON BOMBS IF THEY DIDN'T RIPPLE RELEASE. All went well, the sweetheart F105 did her job. We got to see first hand what those 750#'s look like when one of our squadron mates came back to base with 2-750#s hung on the MER rack ,and he wanted to land with them. HE WAS ORDERED TO JETTISON THE RACK SAFE in the jettison area of the end of the runwys. We all went outside operations to watch. The MER came of clean but the safetys did not keep them from detonating.WOW no wonder those N.V.N. were p.o-ed. Shrapnel flew all over the base, they made him pick it up--no no. He had to buy us all drinks, including our loyal hard working enlisted supporters. I DID REGRET SEEING US LEAVE V.N. I loved the people.

Len Travaille, 31.01.2011

Started on the thud at Spangdahlem. Worked in PE dock for sgt Harlow. Then onto McConell and worked as crew chief. Several TDYs to SEA PCS to Korat in 65 It was a great war hog Alot of memories and friends and alot of hours

Jerry Walterreit, USAF Retired, 29.01.2011

Worked on the F-105 at Korat RTAFB from July 1966 through July 1967 and Nellis AFB until I crossed over to the F-111. I worked in the Instrument field and enjoyed my time with the F-105.

Middle School @ Kadena, 17.01.2011

Cira 1968 - Middle School was near the end of one of the Runways at Kadena by the back gate (where the B-52 blew up on takeoff one early AM in 68-69). We used to see pairs of F-4s and F-105s taking off with afterburner all the time. Two F-4s with 4 engines under burner were loud - you could scream at the top of your lungs and just barely hear the next kid. Two F-105s under burner were another matter and were very much louder. The air and ground would vibrate and your chest would rattle and I literally couldn't hear myself. The closest Hollywood ever came to capturing this was in the "original" Star Wars when Han Solo blasts off out of the Mos Eisley spaceport in the Falcon. Even that was sedate compared to the real aircraft.

C. E. Bud Williams, 15.01.2011

I was in the last class of five from the Georgia ANG that checked out in the G model Thud in Wichita, KN. A memorable time for all! McConnell will never be the same!

VERNON SYMES, 10.01.2011

After 4 yrs in the USAF working on the B-47's I went to to work at Republic as a electrician wiring the harnesses in the bomb bay and then the 'Ballroom" & the cockpit before moving to the flight line as a Auto Pilot Technician on the 105's. I was there from 1960 to 1964 being laid off 4 times as usual in those days. I was called back to work for them when they got the contract to convert a few of them for the "THUNDER BIRDS" flying team. I was the so called lucky guy to disarm the explosive bolts on the top tanks.

Bud Clark, 03.01.2011

worked for 20 years at Republic worked on the first 105 eo be built

Bud Clark, 03.01.2011

worked for 20 years at Republic worked on the first 105 eo be built

Dale A Youngs, 22.12.2010

I was a crew cheif of a weapons load crew and loaded many
f-105's in my year at KoratRTAFB 1972. Went TDY with a few thuds when we bombed haipong an hanoi agin. Will never forget my experiences with the thud.

bob middleton, 21.12.2010

I probably know a lot of you guys out there --just don't remember names. Sorry. I was in the 35th, 36th, 80th, 34th, 44th, 67th out of Yokota, Kadena, Osan, Kunsan, Takhli, and Korat. Finished with 100 over the North and 1000+ hours in the Thud. E-Mail me if you remember. Later. Bob Middleton

Bob Middleton, 20.12.2010

Hated the F-4; loved the Nickel. Tree-top level over Hanoi with full burner going, a bluish-haze started filling the windscreen. Looked down at the speed -- 810 knots !!! Jesse Deets Smith -- we were headhunters together at Yokota. Piowaty and I are presently hiding out in Florida waiting for the next brushfire. Later.

Marlin Blake, 17.12.2010

I have almost 2,000 hours, including 100 missions over NV in '66-67 and never had any problems with this aircraft. 4.5 years in maintenance flight test included.

Ed Langham, 05.12.2010

My entire 8 yr career in the AF was as a Fire Control Tech on the F105. July 1960 - July 1968. 4 yr at Bitburg AB, Germany,a year at McConnell, a year at Korat, Thailand, and a final year at McConnell. What a great aircraft!! It got many pilots home with major battle damage. Sadly, many weren't so lucky.

gary ray, 04.12.2010

I picked up a brand new f-105 at the factory IN Farmingdale,ny. Flew it back to Spangdahlem ab Germany via Mobile, Bermuda, and Torrejon. What a wonderful AIRMACHINE.

Bob Werkowski, 15.11.2010

Worked on Thuds from 62 to 73 At Itazuke,Yokota,McConnell,Korat,Nellis.Was Crew Chief,Flight Chief and ended up as Maintenance Superintendent of the 563rd. T-Stick 11's Great Plane.

Stretch, 14.11.2010

I wa an Asst Crew Chief on the thuds in Takhli Feb 66-Dec 66. The Thud could take some kind of Damage and get home! I had one come back with Damage to Rt Wing just behind the Leading Edge flap, it was long enough and Wide enough to Stand up thru the Wing!! And still made it all the way back to Takhli!! Another one got "Stitched from Nose to Tail! Made it Home!! Ya we also had lots that didn't make it back!

Michael again, 12.11.2010

My dad did the machining on the inner compartment for the landing gear on the beautiful 105. He did machine work on every single one to come out of Farmingdale. My entire family worked at Republic at one time or another and we loved it there. I was working on Boeing sub assemblies there after working on the Warthog for a bit and saw the retirement flight of the last NY National Guard F-105 in 1984. The entire plant stopped work to go out to the field and watch her proudly roll in. The pilot dumped fuel and then set the vector vanes down and ignited it to a round of cheers,tears and applause. Later that week her engine was removed and she was taken to the aircraft museum near Hofstra university where she hangs to this day. When I visit I look up in her landing gear bay to say hi to my Dad,s handiwork. We lived in West Babylon just 3 miles from Republic and we could hear these babies coming from many miles out. We'd run outside from the supper table to look up and see them coming in. They were so low you could see the pilots head moving around as he dropped down to land. The field was so short that giant arrestor chains would be used to slow down the incoming Thuds along with their drogue chutes. On more than one occasion a 105 would slip the chain and zoom across route 109 off the end of the field and come to rest in the local cemetary. Sometimes in the summer afternoon you could hear the drone of the guns as they were sighted in at the gun pit. Years later when I worked at Republic my co workers and I would climb around in the old fueselages that were cast off during the rebuild programs where they would make one good Thud from several shot up planes. A great history for our family, a proud tradition and a truly beautiful aircraft. I still have one Gold Plated F-105 cufflink from the pair that were awarded to my Dad for working on the program from beginning to end. Thanks everyone for featuring this wonderful old aircraft. Sincerely, Michael

Lance T Gunderson, 25.10.2010

I was the youngest guy on the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team (355th Munitions Maintenance Squadron) at Takhli July 1966-July 1967. What an exciting time it was recovering crashed F-105s, and B-66s, and rendering safe their explosive ordnance components including cluster bombs and M-117s/Mk-82s, ejection seats etc. I never saw a "round eye" (caucasion) girl during my tour. Came home to a new experience i.e. the hippy culture and flower power. They didn't have a clue about the 70+ aircraft from Takhli that crashed or were shot down during my tour of duty. It was pretty much a toss up on whether or not a Thud pilot (especially F-105F models) would never complete 100 missions over North Viet Nam or Laos. One pilot that did was my high school friend Gordon Jenkins. He was lucky.

The Thud was a workhorse. A beautiful plane that carried a bombload heavier than a WWII B-17.There are folks trying to get one restored to flying condition. CSAF doesn't want the liability, but there is already an F-4 flying so why not an F-105?. I hope he changes his mind and recommends the approval of the transfer of several planes to the restoration group. Sincerely, Lance Gunderson

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