F-105 Thunderchief, Republic

F-105 Thunderchief or Thud

The F-105 was a large fighter-bomber. Development was slow, with numerous teething troubles. Many modifications were needed to make the aircraft combat-ready, but then the though F-105 proved a very effective aircraft that was used a lot in Vietnam. Intensive use resulted in heavy losses; of the 610 F-105Ds built about half were lost in combat. The two-seat F-105F and F-105G models version was later adopted as 'Wild Weasel' aircraft. Approx 900 F-105s were built. The Thunderchief was officially retired on February 25th, 1984.

Type: F-105D
Function: fighter
Year: 1958
Crew: 1
Engines: 1 * 12010 kg P&W J75-P-19W
Wing Span: 10.64 m
Length: 19.63 m
Height: 5.99 m
Wing Area: 35.76 m2
Empty Weight: 12181 kg
Max.Weight: 23967 kg
Max. Speed: 2208 km/h
Ceiling: 14780 m
Max. Range: 3800 km
Armament: 1 * g20 mm
Unit cost: 2,136,668 USD

The Republic F-105 Thunderchief (sometimes called the "Thud" by its pilots) was a single-seat, supersonic fighter-bomber used by the United States Air Force. It saw extensive service during the Vietnam War.

The F-105 began development as a company-funded design, the AP-63FBX (Advanced Project 63 Fighter Bomber, Experimental). After a back-and-forth with the USAF, which contracted and then radically curtailed the initial production order, the design was approved in October 1953. The first flight of the YF-105A prototype was made 22 October 1955.

The original plan was for the F-105 to use a single Allison J71 turbojet, but the YF-105A used the Pratt & Whitney J57 instead. Both aerodynamic problems with transonic drag and insufficient power led the production aircraft to adopt the Pratt & Whitney J75. A redesign of the fuselage to conform to the Area rule, along with the production J75 engine and new variable intakes, enabled the resulting F-105B to reach Mach 2.

The F-105 was a mid-wing monoplane with a 45 swept wing and tail surfaces. The single engine was fed by two intakes in the wing roots, leaving the nose free for a radome for the multi-mode radar. At the time the F-105 was the largest single-seat combat aircraft ever built. Its capacious fuselage provided room for 1,160 US gallons (4,400 liters) of fuel and a 15 ft 10 in (4.8 m) weapons bay, originally intended for a single nuclear weapon. Four underwing and one fuselage stores pylons were provided, and a single T-171E3 20 mm rotary cannon was installed in the port side of the nose, with a tank for 1028 rounds of ammunition.

The F-105B entered USAF service with the Tactical Air Command's 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 27 May 1958. It received the official popular name Thunderchief, reminiscent of Republic's previous P-47 Thunderbolt, F-84 Thunderjet, and F-84F Thunderstreak. Over 800 were produced before production ended in 1964.

Although built for a projected European conflict with the Soviet Union and based in Western Germany, the F-105 saw extensive service in the Vietnam War. During the first four years of the war, F-105s were responsible for over 75% of air strikes against North Vietnam. While used primarily in the bomber role, it was credited with 27.5 kills of North Vietnamese aircraft. 385 were lost in Vietnam, 334 of those in combat.

The "Thud" was phased out of active service by 1969, replaced by the F-4 Phantom II in the strike role, although Wild Weasel F-105G aircraft remained until the end.

The Thunderchief was rapidly withdrawn from USAF service after the end of the Vietnam War. Some aircraft remained in service with Air National Guard units, but their heavy wartime service meant that many F-105s had already reached or exceeded their service lives by the mid-1970s. The Thunderchief was officially retired on 25 February 1984.

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