The Republic F-105 was conceived as a replacement for the F-84F Thunderstreak, combining Mach 2 performance with a prodigious weapons-carrying capability. It is best remembered for its turbulent combat career in South-east Asia.
T HE F-105 THUNDERCHIEF could carry more bombs than World War Two heavy bombers including the B-17 and B-24. It became the ‘goto’ bomber in Vietnam due to its speed — it could exceed the speed of sound at sea level and was capable of Mach 2 at a much higher altitude. ‘Thuds’ carried out the majority of attacks on targets in the Route Pack numbers covering the heavily defended Hanoi and Haiphong areas. More than 20,000 F-105 missions were flown in Vietnam with unusual levels of attrition. From a total of 833 aircraft produced, 382 F-105s were lost in combat, including 62 operational non-combat losses. It was the only US aircraft withdrawn from combat due to high loss rates.