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

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Clint Lynch MSgt ret., 11.04.2012

I worked as a Jet Engine Mech for 7 years. Frist at Nellis when they first arrived, then Japan with TDYs in Korea, Thailand. Went on mobility to korat in 1966-67. I left the 105 and went to Williams AFB with run up and taxi on 38's f5's and 39's. Back to Bein Hoa with the F100

Chuck Balo, 01.04.2012

Seymour Johnson AFB 64-66 32251N Offensive Weapons Control
Great Bird....I learned a lot about life in those 3 years.
I'll never forget my Service. Proud to have served with this Bird.

Richard A Felder, 19.03.2012

I was stationed at bitburg Germany 1961-1964, 36TFW, 23rd squadron straight out of technical school. Always had a suntan because I went to Wheelus, North Africa act.

Tom G., 10.03.2012

I was with the 418th MMS Squadron Kadena AFB from 1970-71 working in the Gun Shop. We were the first to utilize a laser to boresight the M-61 Vulcan cannon. Our Chiefs treated us with the utmost respect, so I enjoyed my 18 month tour. In 1971 we also transitioned the 18th TAC wing over from the F-105 to F-4 Phantoms. Going from "walking" under the wings to constantly stooped over dealing with the centerline SUU-16 on a Phantom, you learn to appreciate a good design. We also took care of the emergency flares at the ends of the runways, a good day to get out of the shop and get a close view of the Habu taking off.

Robert Dunn, 15.02.2012

This is a second post. Chuck Anderson and I arrived at Yokota AFB on Oct. 15 1966. It was nearly midnight and it was a misty, rainy night we we stepped of the Brannif Airliner and look down to our left all you could see was a double row of thunderchiefs lit up by the light-alls. It was a most impressive sight and I've never forgotten it. Chuck and I were half of a load crew with Gary Moss who lives it Pa now and our crew chief was Mike "puke" Nelson, He was a riot. Working on the 105 was a joy, If I could go do it again I would. Chuck and I kept in touch all these years up until he passed away two years ago. But the memories of great times together and profound friendship linger on. Unfortunately I lost all of my photos of Osan and Yokota in a move to Germany in the mid 1970's and would love to those other have of those places from that time.

Klaatu83, 29.10.2011

"Perhaps because of its complexity, no F-105 was ever exported."

The fact that it was very LARGE and very EXPENSIVE probably had a lot more to do with that.

John Bush, 16.10.2011

Stationed at Seymour 58/62 4th. CAMS instrument shop.We had
the F100s then (58) Switched to F105 58/59? 335th had first
105s in Florida. Remember working in the (Ball Room) on the
CADC computer system. (no pleasure there) Instrument systems
could be a pain but it was a real air hog. Sorry so many were lost in Nam. Enjoyed living in Goldsboro ( Hoods Trailer Court) with my young bride. Decided to come home in
62. Almost did'nt make it because if the Cuban deal.
Got a 105 on display at Hickory NC airport. Need to go see
the ole gal.

Don Goeke, 10.10.2011

The F-105D-31RE was delivered to Itazuke in the middle of 1963 while I was stationed their. We passed our ORI with flying colors and then in the middle of 1964 They closed the base and we all had to move to Yokota AB and when the Gulf of Tonkin happened we were the first F-105 outfit to send the Thud to Korat and fly out of their. The 36th TFS was the first squadron to go. I worked the F-105 at Itazuke, Yokota and then I was reasigned to the depot at McClellan AFB at Sacramento. I worked on them for a few more years and I was also involed with the modification makeing the "G" model. I made several trips back to Takhli to do modifiactions on the "thud" and that aircraft is still the love of my life it was a beautiful aircraft in flight and I worked it with all of my heart. At the present time I still like to find them and see where they are. To me it was a great aircraft and I know for about 4 years they flew about 75% of the bombing missions over North Vietnam and the high loss rate don't mean it was bad aircraft at all it just means it did a lot of work.

William M. (Mike) Butler, 14.06.2011

I was at Kadena Okinawa with the F-105 '63-'64. McConnel '64-'65. Takli & Korat '65-'66. I was a 46250. This was a great a/c.

bill gorse, 22.05.2011


Gary L Lomg, 01.05.2011

I was stationed at McConnell AFB, Wichita, KS Sept. 69 to Dec. 72, with the 563TFS (Flying Aces). One of 4 squadrons in the 23TFW, of Flying Tigers fame. They were the 561st, 562nd, and 563rd TFS with F-105Ds and a few F-105Bs. The fourth squadron as the 4019th flying F-105Fs, the Wild Weasels. I was a Radio Nav Tech.

The 563rd got the Loran D navigation in 1971, I think it was. Kenerd Nez and I were the only 2 guys in the whole Air Force trained for flight line maintenance of the F-105 Loran D system. We went TDY to Eglin AFB to break in and test the new modification. That could be a story in itself.

I like to think the history of the F-105 and the expertise of pilots and ground support personnel, upholds the fine tradition of the 23 Flying Tigers.

Jay Mc Ginnis, 13.04.2011

I was a weapons troop with the first nickle unit in SEA in 64. We were out of Yokata AB Japan.

Wayne Ruppe, 02.04.2011

I was a weapons mechanic on the Thud from 1968 to 1972. I was at Kedena 68-69 Takhli 70 McConnell 71-72. I worked on the gun system and loved it. The 105 doesn't get the credit it deserves for the job it did in Nam. It was a workhorse. In most documentaries it is barely mentioned. I Love That Plane! If any of you were stationed with me shoot me a line I would love to hear from you.

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 Oct of 71 Came back to McConnell on the 105's. Finally wound up for the end of the 105's at Kansas Air National Guard and saw the end of the Thuds. I was the last one to run the last F-105 made (63-8366) Currently on display at McConnell. A lot of fond memories of this planes are in my mind!

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

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.

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