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This Film Emphasizes How Critically Important the F-105 THUD Was in the Skies Over Vietnam

“The 25 Hour Day” Showcases the Thunderchief Along With Many Other Air Force Types

Official US Air Force photograph

When Republic Aviation produced the film “The 25 Hour Day”, the makers of such notable aircraft as the P-47 Thunderbolt, RC-3 Seabee, F-84 Thunderjet Thunderstreak, and the F-105 Thunderchief had recently ceased operations as an independent company. Republic Aviation became a division of Fairchild Hiller in 1965. Production of the Thunderchief had come to an end the previous year, but that didn’t keep Thuds from starring in the film! This look at the total commitment by the Air Force and the Thud’s role in the Vietnam Air War was uploaded to YouTube by wdtvlive42 – Archive Footage

F-105s attacking Vietnamese targets were often escorted by F-4s to protect them from enemy fighters and to prevent the F-105s from having to jettison their external loads to maneuver with the nimble Vietnamese MiGs. When forced to fight for themselves, Thuds were officially credited with 27.5 air-to-air victories against North Vietnamese MiG-17s while 17 F-105s were lost to enemy fighters. While one victory was shared with an F-4 Phantom II, 24.5 of the MiG-17s were shot down using the internal Gatling gun and three victories were achieved using AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.

Official US Air Force photograph

Weighing in at a whopping 50,000 pounds (23,000 kilograms) when it entered service Republic’s Thunderchief was the largest single-seat single-engine combat aircraft in history. The F-105 could move at supersonic speeds at sea level and at Mach 2 speeds at altitude. The “Thud” was capable of regularly carrying 14,000 pounds of ordnance and was armed with a 20 millimeter Vulcan Gatling gun.

Official US Air Force photograph

Without realizing just how effective a weapon the Air Force had in the F-105 early on, derisive nicknames such as “Lead Sled”, “Squat Bomber”, “Hyper Hog”, and “Ultra Hog” were hung on the F-105. It was even said that the Thud was a triple threat in that it could bomb you, it could strafe you, or it could fall on you. Sarcasm aside, the F-105’s strengths, such as its electronics suite and its capabilities, highly responsive controls, and its hair-raising performance, eventually made believers out of pilots who flew the big jet.

Official US Air Force photograph

In addition to Thunderchiefs, the film features a wide variety of Air Force aircraft and even a few Navy types. McDonnell Douglas F-4C and F-4D Phantom IIs, North American F-100 Super Sabres, Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses, Douglas A-1E and A-1H Skyraiders, Grumman HU-16 Albatrosses, Cessna O-1 Birddogs, Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers, Fairchild C-123 Provider, De Havilland Canada C-7 Caribou,  and Lockheed C-130 Hercules airlifters, Douglas AC-47 Spooky gunships, and Sikorsky HH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopters appear in the film. Army UH-1D Hueys and the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) along with her Carrier Air Wing 11 round out the cast.

Official US Air Force photograph

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Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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