The Republic F-105 Thunderchief is one of America's most important, yet often overlooked, aircraft of the 1950s and 1960s. Envisioned by the great engineer Alexander Kartveli, the F-105 was a brutally large, powerful and effective fighter/bomber. Employed over Vietnam in a role for which it had not been designed, the F-105 Thunderchief (commonly known as the “Thud”) flew more missions than any other type of American aircraft in Southeast Asia -- and suffered more losses than any other type.
The F-105 was born as Advanced Project 63 in 1951. Designed as a replacement for the F-84 Thunderjet, Advanced Project 63 was a single-seat, high speed nuclear attack bomber carrying a single tactical nuclear bomb carrier in its internal bomb bay. The powerful Pratt & Whitney J-75 turbojet engine enabled the F-105 to fly faster than the speed of sound at very low altitudes. The first F-105 prototype flew on October 22, 1955 and delivery of the new aircraft followed soon afterward. Though hamstrung by a series of maintenance problems, by 1964 the F-105 had become the U.S. Air Force's premier fighter/bomber. The F-105B was used for a short time by the Air Force Thunderbirds (F-105 aerobatic routines were possibly the loudest air show performances ever put on). Shortly after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964, F-105s flew their first combat missions over Vietnam. Over the next five years, the “Thud” conducted countless low-level, low-speed tactical bombing missions, and although not meant to be a fighter, F-105s (mostly the F-105D model) brought down no less than 25 MiG fighters over Vietnam.
The two seat F-105F model was introduced in 1963 as a combat proficiency trainer. Equipped with additional armor plate, a secondary flight control system, improved ejection seats and electronic counter measures (ECM) pods, the F-105F was a natural selection for the Air Force's Wild Weasel program which began in 1965. Wild Weasels were used to hunt enemy surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites and radar-guided antiaircraft guns. F-105Fs flushed out these weapons by allowing themselves to be used as bait; a very critical, but often costly role. Other F-105Fs were modified to jam Communist radio communications and to conduct low-level precision bombing strikes in bad weather or at night. These missions were later turned over to the more advanced F-111.
The F-105F on display at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum is on loan to the Frontiers of Flight Museum from the National Museum of the USAF. It completed a combat tour in Vietnam in 1968 before serving with the Texas Air National Guard at Carswell Air Force Base. It was retired in 1981.
|ENGINE||Pratt & Whitney J75-P19W turbojet 26,500 lbs. of thrust|
|ARMAMENT||One M-61 20mm cannon and 14,000 lbs. of ordnance|
|WING SPAN||34 feet, 11 inches|
|HEIGHT||20 feet, 2 inches|
|MAX TAKEOFF WEIGHT||54,580 pounds|
|MANUFACTURED BY||Republic Aviation|
|MUSEUM'S AIRCRAFT BUILT||1964|
|ON DISPLAY AT||Cavanaugh Flight Museum, Addison Airport (KADS), Dallas, Texas|
|MAXIMUM SPEED||848 m.p.h. (at sea level)|
|RANGE W/EXTERNAL TANKS||1,500 miles|
|SERVICE CEILING||47,800 feet|