F-105 Thunder Chief Bomber Aircraft
At the on start of the cold war, the United States needed a very fast plane that could deliver a nuclear strike. Republic aircraft company at Farmingdale, New York Designed and Delivered America’s biggest and baddest bomber in 1961. This plane was designed and built with one purpose in mind. She was to be tactical air commands primary nuclear bomber. It was given the designation of F-105.
However, in 1961 the Vietnam War was heating up. By 1965 the F105’s primary objective was changed and her bomb bay was converted to a 600 gal gas tank. Nuclear bombs were replaced with iron bombs and her payload was increased to 14,500 lbs. At first the F-105 was expensive to maintain and fly. It needed 150 hours of maintenance for every hour of flight time. Spare parts were hard to come by. Although it could fly at supersonic speed, it was heavy and not meant for conventional warfare. It had no bombsite so pilots had to dive bomb their targets. Once loaded with bombs it had to be refueled shortly after takeoff. It landed with a rebounding thud which resulted in the pilots nicknaming her “The Thud”
As more F-105’s were made and tests run the needed changes were made. Maintenance hours were reduced and parts became available. By 13 Jan 65 the first strike mission took place in Vietnam. Five months earlier on 14 Aug 64 she carried out her first combat mission.
Fighting off anti-aircraft artillery, MIG’s and surface to air missiles the F-105 served with distinction. Two F-105 pilots received the Medal of Honor. Both pilots: Capt. Merlyn H. Dethlefson and Capt. Leo K. Thorsness, served with the United States Air Force.
Of the 833 F-105’s that were made; almost half were lost. Depending on which reference book you look at the number lost ranges from 382 to 395. At least 61 were lost because of operational accidents.
Although residing at many Air Force Bases stateside and overseas, this “warbird” had time in South East Asia serving from 1968-1970 with the 355 tactical fighter wing located at Takhli, Thailand. 455 survived combat in Vietnam and retired in 1981 with almost 5000 Flying hours in 1986. It was transferred to Jackson, Mississippi where it stayed for the next 26 years. In 2010 it was transferred to Veterans Memorial Park in Dixon, Ill where it sits among other distinguished artifacts.
#455 In Dixon
#455 In Texas
Serial Number 60-455
- Type – F-105 with T-Stick Modification
- Wingspan – 34′ 11″
- Length – 64′ 5.3″
- Height – 19′ 8″
- Empty Weight – 26,855 lbs
- Max. Weight – 52,838 lbs
- Powerplant – Pratt & Whitney J75-P-19-W
- Max Speed – Mach 2
- Service Ceiling – 48,500 feet
- Rate of Climb – 38,5000 Feet per minute
- Time to Altitude – 1.7 minutes to 35,000 feet
- Max. Range – 2390 Miles
- Crew – 1