Photo: Robert Deering 1981
In 1951 Republic
Aviation began a project to develop a
supersonic tactical fighter-bomber to
replace the F-84F. The result was the F-105
Thunderchief, later affectionately nicknamed
the "Thud." The prototype YF-105A first flew
in October 1955, but the first F-105D did
not fly until June 1959. A total of 833
Thunderchiefs of all types were built,
including 610 F-105Ds.
The U.S. Air Force sent F-105s to Southeast Asia shortly after the Tonkin Gulf incident in the summer of 1964. The USAF operated the F-105D extensively in the air campaign against North Vietnam called Rolling Thunder. Although designed as a nuclear strike aircraft, the F-105 could carry a total of over 12,000 pounds of conventional ordnance -- a heavier bomb load than a World War II B-17. The F-105 was gradually replaced by the F-4 Phantom, and the USAF withdrew the last F-105D from service in July 1980.
Armament: One M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon and more than 12,000 lbs. of ordnance
Engine: One Pratt & Whitney J75-P-19W of 24,500 lbs thrust
Maximum speed: 1,390 mph
Cruising speed: 778 mph
Range: 2,206 miles
Ceiling: 51,000 ft.
Span: 34 ft. 11 in.
Length: 64 ft. 5 in.
Height: 19 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 52,838 lbs. maximum
Source: National Museum of the United States Air Force