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Thunderchief: The Complete History of the Republic F-105

Dennis Jenkins Mick Roth Mike Machat



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Specialty Press
20 February 2019
History; Military history; Air forces & warfare; Military engineering
Forward by Colonel Clarence E. Bud Anderson, Jr USAF (Ret.) Provides a level of detail unseen in any previous work on the F-105, including the complete history of this airplane in every sense of the term.

Reveals new recently declassified Air Force material about the F-105's unique and highly dangerous Wild Weasel missions during the Vietnam War. Authored by one of America's top aviation writers, this book continues the story of Republic's Mach-2 F-105 Thunderchief where previous books on this aircraft left off.

The Republic F-105 Thunderchief gained fame in the skies over Southeast Asia, carrying weapons it was not designed to use in a war it was not supposed to fight. It had been conceived to carry the new tactical nuclear weapons designed by the national laboratories during the early 1950s. Its target would be the Soviet Union during the height of the cold war, operating from well-equipped bases in Germany and Japan. Instead, it found itself in the jungles of Thailand, surrounded by heat and humidity, trying to fight a war as dictated by politicians 7,000 miles away. Too many missions were flown with only a few bombs per aircraft, simply so Washington could count sorties. Too many crews never came back. This is the complete history of the Republic F-105 Thunderchief, from its inception in the early 1950s to its retirement in the mid-1980s.

The F-105 holds the distinction of being the only American combat aircraft withdrawn from service simply because there were not enough of them remaining to be tactically useful. The Thunderchiefs flew 159,795 combat missions in Southeast Asia, resulting in the loss of 334 aircraft, most of them to North Vietnamese anti-aircraft fire. This was almost half the combat-capable F-105s built. One hundred fifty-six crewmembers were listed as killed in action or missing in action. Two pilots received the Medal of Honor.

After the Air Force withdrew them from Southeast Asia, leaving the war to the newer and more plentiful McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, the remaining Thuds settled into a quiet routine stateside until they were finally retired on 25 February 1984. By then, only 221 airframes were left of the 833 produced.

In 2018, there is not a single flyable Thunderchief, although at least 100 of them are in museums, available to be admired at one's leisure.
By:   Dennis Jenkins
With:   Mick Roth, Mike Machat
Imprint:   Specialty Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 257mm,  Width: 262mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   1.451kg
ISBN:   9781580072595
ISBN 10:   1580072593
Pages:   300
Publication Date:   20 February 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Dennis R. Jenkins worked as a contractor to NASA for 33 years, mostly on the Space Shuttle Program in a variety of engineering and management roles. During the late 1990s, Jenkins was the ground systems lead for the X-33 program and spent 2003 on the staff of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB). In 2010, he became the United Space Alliance project manager for the Orbiters on Display Working Group that delivered the space shuttle orbiters to their final display sites. Originally from New York, Mike Machat is a well-known American aviation artist, author, and historian. He served in the U.S. Air Force, was a Staff Artist for McDonnell Douglas Corporation, and was elected first president of the American Society of Aviation Artists. Machat's artwork has won numerous awards, and his paintings reside in the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum and the Pentagon. As a pilot, he holds an FAA Commercial Certificate, has flown in 225 different types of aircraft, and logged more than 2,000 flights in sailplanes.

Reviews for Thunderchief: The Complete History of the Republic F-105

Jenkins' magnificent monograph stands as a potent panegyric to this icon of Vietnam-era American airpower. --David L. Veres CybermodelerOnline (03/01/2019) All told, Thunderchief is a real showcase not to be missed by F-105 admirers and former operators and maintainers. --Peter Mersky Aviation History (10/08/2019) The title is a brief but accurate description of the contents of the book. I first read Chapter 5, Wild Weasels - F-105F/G in detail because of my personal experience as a Wild Weasel 'Bear' with over 900 hours flying in the Thud. I read that chapter with a critical eye and I can attest to the accuracy and attention to detail exhibited by the author. He explains the events that precipitated the need for the Wild Weasel mission. He then leads the reader through the many modifications, first to the F-105F and then to the F-105G. Detailed drawings of the evolution of all the cockpit equipment configurations are presented. In the chapter, he also pays homage to the first Weasels, the F-100s and mentioned the incorporation of F-4s into the Weasel mission. The early development of the 105 is dealt with the same attention to detail. The author begins with the YF-105A and then takes the reader through the various versions, including versions that never saw the light of day. As with the Weasel chapter, the author speaks not just of the aircraft itself, but of all the systems incorporated in the F-105 including the weapons systems. Each change or addition is authenticated with official Air Force documents. I was unfamiliar with much of the early development and what little I 'knew' was hearsay. After reading Thunderchief, I feel like I'm a 105 expert. In the appendices, the author catalogs the Thunderchiefs by serial number. He also chronicles aircraft loses by date with cause of loss and crew status. Did I mention the multitude of color photographs with each aircraft meticulously identified along with where the photographs were taken? Superlatives fall short in describing this outstanding work! -- (03/18/2019)

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