Saturday, June 11, 2016

My fav...the F-105

I saw this one at the Eglin Armaments Museum, too--a Republic F-105D "Thunderchief", aka, the "Thud".
She's one of the few aircraft that is indoors, and she takes up much of the gallery all by herself and the surrounding display of weapons that she could carry.
I've always loved this plane and it's storied history of high-speed, low-level bombing and Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) suppression in Vietnam. It was a huge but lightning-fast single-engined monster that was originally designed to deliver nuclear weapons on one-way trips into the Soviet Union.
Many of you readers knew or read the books and blog of Ed Rasimus, who flew these in Vietnam. I couldn't help but think of him as I looked at and touched this aircraft. I remembered talking with him about efforts by F-105 pilots and the Collins Foundation to put one of these back in the air as a flying exhibit just like Collins has done with the F-4 Phantom and others. But the Air Force owns all of the F-105 airframes and refused to allow it, and when the proponents started lobbying Congress for it, the Air Force, in a fit of spite, ordered every single existing J-75 engine left destroyed by the driving of spikes through the compression chambers.

Sure enough, just a short time later, when I was talking to the museum staffer who maintains the aircraft, he told me that this one had a complete J-75 when it came in, and that a few years ago, he was ordered by the Air Force to spike it's engine. And he did. Until that moment though, he said, this one was essentially complete and in flying condition.

That ain't right.
Because fighters have guns, dammit.

It was said that the Thud validated the theory that if the Air Force built the world's longest runway tomorrow, Republic would immediately design a fighter that needed every foot of that runway to get off the ground. And the Thud needed a lot of room, and a water-injection system to boost thrust enough to get her and her full compliment of weapons in the air, but once aloft...look out, enemies of America.

I regret never having seen one of these fly. And no one else who hasn't already seen it ever will, either.


  1. OUCH!

    So there aren't any useable J-75's left anywhere?

    I read a quote about Republic Aircraft once, long agao...

    "If somebody built a runway all the way around the Earth at the Equator, Republic would build an aircraft that took every foot of it to get airborne".

    I have both of Ed's books. I would have liked to have met him....

    1. Not a single engine left. The Air Force had several dozen, but they destroyed them all to keep anyone from putting an F-105 back in the air again. Phantoms and Phantom parts are all over the world, but the 105 was never given or sold to any other country so there's no outside source now.

      Ed was great people. I never got to meet him in person but we swapped e-mails and talked on the phone.

  2. Anonymous11:24 AM

    Ahh, you were in my backyard. Pass that place every day. Glad you had fun.

  3. Damn. Wish I'd known.

  4. Thuds DID take all the runway... Watched a flight go out of Utapao once, they used about as much runway as the KC-135 did! :-)

    1. Rotation speed was 165kts, and they left the ground at around 200. Factor in max weight and humidity and/or density altitude, and it wasn't a plane for short strips.

    2. They also used a lot of runway to LAND--and that was including deploying the drag chute.

      We had two ANG squadrons of them at Hill AFB. The F-16s were brand new to the AF inventory and we were the first to get them at Hill. They made a very distinctive sound as that F-100/PW-200 was plenty loud.

      However, it sounded like a whisperer's recital compared to a flight of Thuds taking off. The only two aircraft I ever heard that were louder were an A-model KC-135 with the water injection, and an SR-71.

  5. Since that engine "core" was used in a lot of different aircraft, there might be a little hope....

  6. Dang, it's a crying shame.

    Whoever maliciously ordered the destruction of all those engines should have been charged with 18 USC 1361 Destruction of Government property - a nice 10 year felony and fine of $250,000. Wasting perfectly good engines out of spite is just wrong.

    1. Know any good lawyers? That want to work for free?

    2. I may just know some :-).

      The problem is standing as it is a criminal law and I don't see any qui tam exception to argue the act was a fraud on the US Government that would let anyone other than the DOJ pursue it, and I can't see this DOJ doing so.

  7. The Thud was designed to drop nukes, or should I say 'toss' them. Low level nuclear delivery was it's job.

  8. Anonymous9:40 PM

    Great story about these planes.
    May the idiot that ordered the destruction of the motors rot in Hell.

  9. This is no shit:

    After the CAF flew Fifi from the NWS range to Harlingen, a team of Air Force guys with metal-cutting chainsaws showed up and said that they had orders to chop up the bomb bay, because of the "Silverplate" mods, or something.

    The AF guys were shown into the office of the local CAF HMFIC, who was a retired AF general. The general heard them out, identified himself as a retired AF two (or three) star, reached into his desk, pulled out a SAA Colt, cocked it, laid it on his desk and said something along the lines of: "You boys need to show me some written authority before you start cutting up my airplane."

    They had none. They left.

    Or so I've been told.