Republic F-105 Thunderchief

Country of originUnited States
ManufacturerRepublic Aviation
First flight22 October 1955
Introduced27 May 1958
Producedcirca 1956
Numbers built833
Unit costsUS$2.14 million (F-105D )(1960 dollars)
Max speedMach 2.08 (1,372 mph, 2,208 km/h) at 36,000 ft (11,000 m)
Max rangeCombat radius: 780 mi (680 nmi, 1,250 km)
Ferry range: 2,210 mi (1,920 nmi, 3,550 km)
Service ceiling: 48,500 ft (14,800 m)
DimensionsLength: 64 ft 4.75 in (19.63 m)
Wingspan: 34 ft 11.25 in (10.65 m)
Height: 19 ft 8 in (5.99 m)
Wing area: 385 ft² (35.76 m²)
WeightEmpty weight: 27,500 lb (12,470 kg)
Loaded weight: 35,637 lb (16,165 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 52,546 lb (23,834 kg)
Powerplant1 x Pratt & Whitney J75-P-19W afterburning turbojet
Dry thrust: 14,300 Ibf (63,74kN)
Thrust with afterburner: 24,500 Ibf (109 kN)
1x 20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan 6-barreled gatling cannon, 1,028 rounds

5 total: 4x under-wing, 1x centerline pylon stations plus an internal bomb bay with a capacity of Up to 14,000 lb (6,400 kg) of ordnance, including conventional and nuclear bombs, and AIM-9 Sidewinder and AGM-12 Bullpup missiles.
OperatorsFormer Operator:
United States

The Republic F-105 Thunderchief was an American supersonic fighter-bomber which capable to bring a load of bombs exceeding the number of bombs that could be carried by the legendary strategic bombers of the World War II, the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-24 Liberator. The primary user of the Mach 2 capable and single-seat fighter-bomber was the United States Air Force (USAF). The Thunderchief was also capable to deliver nuclear weapon as it was also developed for two-seat version and nuclear-attack aircraft (Wild Weasel version) for the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) role against surface-to-air missile sites.

The F-105 carried a single nuclear weapon internally for maintaining high-speed and low-altitude penetration. The fighter-bomber was also equipped with a cannon and some missiles.

The F-105 took its maiden flight in 1955 and entered service in 1958. Afterward, The F-105 became one of the main strike bombers of the Vietnam War. Throughout the war, there were over 20,000 Thunderchief sorties were flown. However, as the fighter-bomber was less-agile than its foes, the MiG fighters, reportedly 382 aircraft lost (nearly half of the 833 produced) including 62 operational losses.

The Development of F-105

In September 1952, the USAF awarded Republic with a contract for 199 aircraft. As the Korean War almost ended, in March 1953 the USAF reduced the order before it completely cancelled the program as there were a number of delays and questions related to the aircraft. But in June 1954, the USAF wanted 15 F-105s under the Weapon System designation WS-306A.

The YF-105A prototype had its maiden flight on 22 October 1955, with the second YF-105A following on 28 January 1956. In March 1956, the USAF ordered for 65 F-105Bs and 17 RF-105Bs. In an effort to perform the nuclear mission, an MA-8 fire control system, AN/APG-31 ranging radar, and K-19 gunsight allowing for toss bombing was built in. The initial pre-production YF-105B flew on 26 May 1956. The first production F-105B was approved by the Air Force on 27 May 1957. In June 1957 Republic Aviation asked for that the F-105 be called Thunderchief, carrying on the series of the company’s Thunder-named aircraft, they were the P-47 Thunderbolt, F-84 Thunderjet, and F-84F Thunderstreak; the USAF agreed to use the name officially one month later.

To complete the Air Force requirement for all-weather attack, Republic offered the F-105D variant in 1957. It incorporated more sophisticated navigation system, and much better cockpit displays for unfavourable weather operation. The capability to bring the TX-43 nuclear weapon was also applied. After being cancelled before, the RF-105 reconnaissance development was also carried on using the design of F-105D. The first D-model procured its first flight on 9 June 1959. In November 1961, production was slashed for the Air Force taking on the Navy’s F-4 Phantom II and the General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark of the TFX program.

The Design of F-105

The F-105 was a mid-wing monoplane with a 45° swept wing and tail surfaces. The single engine with two intakes in the wing roots was put in the design. The nose was the home of radome housing the multi-mode radar. Its fuselage presented area for 1, 184 US gallons (4, 480 L) of fuel and an internal bomb bay.

The F-105 displayed four under-wing and one centerline pylon. Two outer dry stations were placed for missiles or bombs. The aircraft was armed with one M61 Vulcan 20 mm 6-barrel Gatling-style cannon which hooked up in the left side of the nose. A short-range AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile could be brought on all the outer wing pylons.

The F-105 was constructed mainly for low-level interdiction and its low-altitude speed was its most effective asset when combating enemy fighters like the MiG-17/J-5s and MiG-21. According to combat experience, the F-105D was modified with an improved ejection seat, extra armor, increased gun sights, and Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) pods on the wings.

Republic F-105 Thunderchief videos

Republic F-105 Thunderchief – part 1


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