F-105D History

The F-105 Thunderchief - often referred to as the "Thud" - is a significant piece of combat aviation history. Developed by Republic Aviation and designed by Alexander Kartveli, the mind behind many other notable aircraft such as the P-47 Thunderbolt and F-84 Thunderjet, the F-105 took its maiden flight in 1955. Notably, it was the largest single-seat, single-engine combat aircraft in history to be utilized by the United States Air Force.

F-105s on base in Takhli Thailand

In its early stages, the F-105 was envisioned as a nuclear strike aircraft. However, it eventually became an integral part of the US conventional bombing forces during the Vietnam War. The aircraft was particularly known for its advanced avionics, including a pioneering radar system which was predominantly featured in the all-weather fighter-bomber F-105D variant.

The F-105 Thunderchief played a crucial role in the Vietnam War. It undertook the majority of strike bombing missions against targets in North Vietnam - dropping approximately 75% of all bombs from 1964 to 1968. The F-105s were tasked with hitting a variety of targets, including infrastructure, military installations, and SAM sites (surface to air missiles). Furthermore, it was used for dropping napalm on enemy troop concentrations.

“The Frito Bandito" taxiing on the runway before a strike mission.

In addition to its bombing capabilities, the F-105 also exhibited a decent performance in dogfights. It is credited with downing 27 ½ MiGs during its time in Vietnam. Moreover, the F-105 Thunderchief could carry nearly twice the payload of a B-17 bomber from WW2, which earned it the nickname “bomb truck” in Vietnam.

Despite enduring heavy losses during the Vietnam War (382 Thuds were lost over Vietnam) the F-105 received praise for its speed, rugged survivability, bomb payload capacity, and its ability to hold its own in a dogfight with highly maneuverable MiG fighters. The Thud's service was instrumental in shaping the outcome of many battles in the Vietnam War. It is a testament to the aircraft's true resilience and adaptability, demonstrating the vital role of air power in modern warfare.

a vector image of the F-105D

In addition to its distinguished service in Vietnam, the F-105 played a pivotal role across Europe during the peak of the Cold War. F-105s were strategically deployed throughout Europe, serving as potent symbols of nuclear deterrence. Their presence represented a constant reminder to the Soviet Union of the formidable strike capabilities that would be activated in the event of an attempted invasion of Western Europe. The Thuds, with their imposing presence, were therefore not just war machines, but also instruments of diplomatic strategy during a critical period in global history.

The F-105 Thunderchief was officially retired from the United States Air Force in 1984 following a phased withdrawal that began in 1980. Its distinguished service during the Vietnam War as the primary strike bomber has etched its legacy into military history. Additionally, its presence in Europe during the Cold War served as a potent symbol of Western/NATO defense capabilities, effectively deterring potential Soviet aggression. Even after retirement the Thunderchiefs contributions to combat aviation continue to be well revered and commemorated.

Our F-105D Thunderchief, the "Frito Bandito," has a rich combat history, notably in the Vietnam War, and later served as the "Huns Hammer" with the Virginia Air National Guard.

The "Frito Bandito" - Image provided by Doug Harried

Crew chief Doug Harried inspecting “The Frito Bandito" at Royal Takhli airbase in Thailand

Producing these tags is not only a way to raise funds for restoration, but also a way to share these pieces of aviation and transportation history with you.  We see it as a partnership and truly appreciate your business. We are excited to be able to share such an amazing piece of aviation history with you - The Thunderchief TransportTag.