Flashes of Thunder

Babak Taghvaee looks back at the long service life of Greek RF-84Fs, including encounters with RAF Lighting in 1964

With an extensive coastline from the Aegean to the Mediterranean Sea and a huge number of islands and islets, the territorial waters of Greece have always been challenging to protect. From the 1950s to the 1990s the land borders of the NATO member country faced the communist countries of Albania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia to the north and Turkey to the east.

Clearly, tactical reconnaissance has always been a vital asset to the Hellenic Air Force (HAF). For an incredible 35 years from 1956, tacrecce was the responsibility of a fleet of 34 Republic RF-84F Thunderflashes, which logged a total of 80,000 hours of flight.

In 1953, technicians of the 335th Mira (squadron) of the 112th Ptérix (wing) experimentally installed cameras in the port tip-tanks of six straight-winged Republic F-84G Thunderjets. Satisfactory results led to 20 Lockheed RT-33As being delivered by the US under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program (MDAP) between 1954 and 1955.

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