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Watch: Back When The F-105 THUD Was Cutting Edge

Republic’s F-105 Had Only Been In Service For a Year When They Produced This Film

Official US Air Force Photograph

It’s Hard To Believe the Thud Was Ever Brand New But Here’s Proof

The 1960 Republic-produced film “Mach of the Thunderchief” was made to promote the company’s new (at the time) F-105 Thunderchief jet. The film features the process of designing and testing the Thud and includes a great deal of information about how Republic Aviation built 833 of them at their Farmingdale plant on Long Island in New York. Although they entered service with the United States Air Force (USAF) Tactical Air Command (TAC)’s 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) in August 1958, F-105Bs did not become fully operational until 1959. The film was shot only a year after that. Enjoy “Mach of the Thunderchief”!

Designed initially as a high-speed low-altitude penetrator carrying a single nuclear weapon internally, the Thud was adapted to become one of the primary USAF attack aircraft of the Vietnam War. Thuds flew more than 20,000 sorties but close to half (nearly 48 percent) of the total number of Thuds built were lost (to all causes) during their service in Southeast Asia.  F-105Gs were also adapted to serve in the dangerous suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) Wild Weasel role. The Thud became a legend in Vietnam, and tales of the heroic missions flown by Thud pilots are still told in officer’s clubs, ready rooms, and on flight lines today.

Official US Air Force Photograph

The F-105 was the largest and heaviest single-seat, single-engine combat aircraft in history, weighing in at about 25 tons fully loaded with 7 tons of ordnance. At sea level the Thud was capable of flying at speeds exceeding Mach 1; at altitude Mach 2 was well within its capabilities. When it became apparent that Thud losses in Vietnam might well exceed more than 50 percent of the total number of airframes built, the Air Force replaced the F-105 with several different aircraft- primarily the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II and later the General Dynamics F-111. The F-105G Wild Weasels remained in service until 1984, when they too were replaced by mission-dedicated F-4G Wild Weasel variants of the Phantom II. Thanks go to PeriscopeFilm for uploading this excellent film.

Official US Air Force Photograph

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Bill Walton

Written by 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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