“There is a Way” shows you how Thud pilots made heroic memories.
Got a high boredom quotient working? You should check out the video There is a Way: The 421st Tactical Fighter Squadron “Fighting Cavaliers” and their F-105 Thunderchiefs. This film was made over several months of combat operations during 1966 by the Air Force, but it doesn’t look or seem like a regular USAF training film or documentary. It is a rare look inside the operational details of F-105 crews at war.
The film features the 421st Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS), part of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW), operating out of Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base (RTAFB) during shooting of the film. The Fighting Cavaliers were flying regular missions up North at the time. The footage includes much more than just the aerial combat in which the Thuds were embroiled. Also included is footage of the ground crews and armorers turning the big F-105s around for their next mission and the various activities that we part and parcel of a Thunderchief squadron at war.
The film really captured the human side of the war. Interviews with everyone from the mechanics and armorers, the pilots, all the way up to the base commander are used to tell the story along with actual mission footage. Much of the mission footage includes the radio calls made during the engagements- always a better experience than plain old film alone. Also included are celebrations for pilots completing their hundredth missions, briefings and debriefings, and plane-side remarks by pilots preparing for battle and those who have just returned from it.
The pilots themselves give rare glimpses into their thoughts about the war and how it is being fought. They discuss tactics and the different missions they are tasked to fly. If you’re a Thud veteran, a fan, or just want to see what it was like to be part of a Tactical Fighter Squadron at war in Vietnam you can’t do any better than There is a Way. Enjoy!
Thanks to Zeno’s Warbird Video Drive-In for uploading the film and cleaning it up enough to be enjoyable to watch. Bravo Zulu.