The revolutionary F-111 had a disastrous operational debut in Vietnam. Warren E Thompson describes the baptism that nearly became a requiem

A Combat Lancer F-111A peeling off over Thailand at low altitude.
The first F-111A to land at Takhli in March 1968 generated considerable attention.

Duels between F-86 Sabres and MiG-15s during the Korean War and rising tensions during the Cold War caused a torrent of swept-wing designs reflecting the latest advances in technology. When Robert McNamara was appointed US Secretary of Defense in January 1961 he set about combining the needs of the US Navy, looking for a replacement for the McDonnell F-4 Phantom and the USAF, seeking a successor for the Republic F-105 Thunderchief.

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