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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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

PETER WARD, 06.10.2010


Lloyd T. Callicoat, 30.09.2010

Sorry my E-mail address was incorrect on the first try

Lloyd T. Callicoat, 28.09.2010

I worked on the F-105 at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas NV 1967 & 1968. Then I went to southeast Asia May to May 1968 & 1969 Kaorat Royal Thai AFB. I crossed trained into F-4 phantoms at Egin AFB in Ft Walton beach FL and was discharged in April of 1970. Like to hear from some F-105ers from the past loved both airplanes. 000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000--00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000-000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000-0-000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

Hal Shrum, 23.09.2010

Had the privilage to be an eng mech on the "nickel" at Bitburg,Ger.(1962-1965, "backseated" on TDY's at Wheelus and went to Osan with the "Wild Weasels"at Nellis when the Koreans took the Pueblo.Just a beautiful bird.Each time I go to Nellis I have to stop by and say "Hello".

Sal Orlando, 17.09.2010

I was a hydraulic repairman at Spangdahlem AFB from 1961-1964 and was their when the F100's were phased out and the 105's came in. It was a big deal then. Also went TDY to Wheelus AFB in Libya. A couple of things that happened at Wheelus at different times with the 105, one was a front bearing went out on the Gatling gun and shot up the nose shield pretty badly. The other thing was a hydraulic leak in the aft section of the engine the toasted the whole interior of the aft section. Both pilots brought them home safely.

Jesse Deets smith, 30.08.2010

I flew the F-105 out of Yokota AFB during the late 60's. The plane was designed to fly very fast and very low to deliver a nuclear weapon without being detected by the enemy. The range and altitude capabilities listed above are exaggerated. The plane didn't perform well above 30,000ft and a 1000NM trip was about it without Air to air refueling. The air frame could sustain indicated airspeeds near 800 knots. Migs would disintegrate above about 600 kts indicated air speeds so nose down and burner was the best way to disengage an airplane that could turn tighter than the 105. Pilots joked that if you could build a runway around the world Republic could design an airplane to use it all. The airplane landed at 185 kts plus an allowance for fuel, so you're coming in over the runway threshold at about 200 knots. That is FAST. It took a doug chute and brakes to get is safely stopped on a 10,000 ft runway. Taking off was equally as exciting. 7 or 8 thousand feet using water injection. I thought the airplane had a beautiful profile and it's handling characteristics were excellent. I enjoyed flying the airplane.

Don Goeke, 26.08.2010

As you can see I had some remarks in 2008. I fell in love with the F-105. I spent time with it in Osan AB, Korea alert pad and a couple of trips to Thialand. One item still remains in my heart and mind and that is the day I got my flight in the rear seat of a "F" model and during that flight we made 3 bomb runs on the rock off the coast of Japan and then we went out and he took me up to 1.3 mach and with that out of the way the pilot give me a good dose of 4.5 G's and then it was time to return to Yokota AB and the flight lasted 1hour 45 minutes and I can't think of anything that has happened to me in my life to match that day in the back seat of my beloved "thud". I still have pictures as wall paper on both of my computers. The one on this computer is 62-361 and I believe that aircraft belonged to the 80th TFS of the 8th TFW, Itazuke AB, Japan. On my other computer I have a "D" model in flight but I can't read the tail number but the large letters on the tail is "HI" so I don't know who she belonged to. At the air craft meuseum at what use to be McClellan AFB is 62-302 and it belonged to the 35TFS, 8th TFW, Itazuke AB, Japan. I will always remember the times I spent on the "thud" and it made no difference where I was or the weather I always enjoyed and loved my "thud". I know that we moved to Yokota but I feel the troops were a lot closer knit at Itazuke than at Yokota.

Vic, 25.08.2010

Flew four different fighters in my 24 year Air Force career and the "Thud" was definitely my favorite. It is great seeing so many positive comments from those that maintained her. No wonder the operational rate was so high during its SEA operations. My hat is off to these dedicated individuals that help place this plane in the annals of history. An era I would gladly relive!

Mark Benson, 25.08.2010

Crew chief on F105D-N059 with the 333TFS at Takhli RTAFB circa 1966-67. Outstanding acft with excellent J75 engine, avionics and fire control systems.

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