F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft)

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Warry was awarded a Silver Srar for remaining in rhe rarger area ro direcr me srrike despire his aircraft's serious fuel leakage following a AAA hir. The bridge was damaged once again, bur useable even afrer rwo furrher srrikes Iarer rhar same day. Tacrics were revised as a resulr.

M slacked penerrarion for rhe rask, parricularly when rhey were fused wrongly. Also, large formarions of F-I05s over rhe rarger simulraneously did nor help pilors ro concenrrare on aim poinrs, so smaller formarions of one or rwo flighrs were used insread.

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Much berrer resulrs were achieved rhe following day when 28 F-I05s demolished rhe barracks ar Xom Trung Hoa. On 10 May Presidenr Johnson declared a five-day bombing pause which failed ro speed up peace negoriarions bur involved rhe F-l 05 force in 'visual reconnaissance' missions and more leafler-dropping F-l 05 squadrons did mosr of rhe leafler drops in A persisrenr problem in rhe hear of barrie was radio discipline.

The airwaves were ofren overloaded wirh warnings, borh wirhin rhe srrike force and from powerful exrernal airborne and land-based rransmirring agencies, somerimes inrerrupring whar pilors acrually needed ro hear. If an aviaror ejecred, his rescue beeper would blor our rhe radio frequency wirh a shrill wail. Signals from radar-homing and warning RHAW equipmenr would also fill a pilor's headser, as could rhe 'hor mike' berween cockpirs in rhe rwo-sear F-I05F.

Col Jack Broughron recalled; 'We did brief rhar pilors were ro speak on rhe radio only when necessary. When you packed lors of fasr-moving machinery inro a smaIl ballpark, wirh good buddies gerring blown up or punching our, ir was difficulr nor ro become a bir emorional. The worrhless SAM and MiG calls from our four-engined radar observers flying our over rhe warer were a pain. They usually came ar rhe wrong rime, and rhey blocked all orher rransmissions.

Pilor Dan Bany remembered, 'I rhink rhar we would all reach rask sarurarion ar rimes jusr dealing wirh rhe audio from rhe UHF, Guard channel, inrercom, rhe rones from rhe various onboard sysrems and rhe missile seeker heads. The F-l 05 was a prerry anriquared jer by rhe lare s, and any improvemenrs in auromarion would have been appreciared. He did nor ejecr. Six days larer, in a rragic operarional accidenr, Capr Roberr Greskowiak perished when his heavily-loaded FD losr power on rake-off and crashed off rhe end ofTakhli's runway, killing five civilians and wrecking a Buddhisr remple.

Alrhough he ejecred and was caprured, Hrdlicka subsequenrly died in capriviry some rhree years larer. From 22 May berrer wearher perm irred rhe fi rsr arrack on a rarger above rhe 20rh parallel when 40 F-I05s seriously damaged barracks ar Quang Soui, 60 miles from Hanoi, and rhe Phu Qui ammunirion depor. Rather than negotiating, Hanoi just increased its army oflabourers. Nevertheless, F-1 05s, with some F-4 support, were responsible for 55 per cent of the bombing of the North at this point in the war, and they were coming increasingly under threat From the enlarged MiG force that the JCS became more determined to remove through the bombing of its airfields.

The first encounter in which Fs fired at MiGs came on 24 June when two VPAF jets intercepted the 'high' element of a flight of Thunderchiefs whose pilots Fortunately saw them at their 'six o'clock' position. Flying ft lower, the second element climbed to meet them, and one MiG broke away to escape. The 'high' element pursued the second MiG and fired at it, but the jet turned hard and escaped.

Big F strikes were launched during this period against the Yen Bai and Yen Son ordnance depots, the latter covering 60 acres and yielding vast secondary explosions. New weapons were also added to the F's arsenal at this time too. Once again, serious damage was caused but no spans were dropped. Thirteen days later the US government allowed a one-off raid to be made on the otherwise forbidden dams and locks of the country's hydroelectric network. With its lb warhead rather than the lb version fitted to the AGMB, the revised BuJJpup could be fired at a distance of up to ten miles away from the target.

Once the weapon was in the air, the pilot steered it using flares on the missile's cruciform tail as a visual reference. Whilst the AGMB could be fired straight off the fighter's pylon, the C-model had to be dropped and then fired via a Frangible cable. The missile did not release properly From its pylon's front shackle, canted tail-down, fired and caused severe damage as it shot through the leading edge of the F's wing. The pilot ejected when his Thunderchief drained the last of its hydraulic fluid and crashed five miles from the forward recovery base at Nakhon Phanom.

Jack Broughton's experience of the Bullpup was not uncommon; 'The only memory I have ofthe missile is firing it, then watching it rock and roll through the sky heading nowhere close to what I had aimed at, with a pretty good assurance that it would hit the surface This mission would be performed by 48 Fs armed wirh CBU-2s, napalm and rockers.

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The arrackers dropped rheir ordnance in line-abreasr flighrs offour ar a heighr of jusr fro The firsr flighr immediarely rook hirs, and rhe rd TFS's Capr Walr Kosko wenr down in FD and drowned in rhe Black River near Sire 7 - he had survived beingshor down in during a SAR mission over Laos on 5 June. A follow-up arrack on rhe same sire which larer proved ro be empry an hour larer cosr a second aircraft, Capr Kile Berg, also ofrhe rd TFS, becominga PoW afrer was hir on a napalm pass.

In rhe ensuing crash, Barrhelmas and Maj Jack Farr in rhe second jer were borh killed, alrhough rheir loss was officially lisred as an 'operarional accidenr' so as ro avoid publiciry linking Thailand ro Rolling Thunder. Anorher FD in rhe 'mop-up' 'Dogwood' flighr, charged wirh desrroying anyrhing rhat had been left by the main force, was hit by AAA as it avoided a volley ofSAMs. Squadron mate Capt Roberr Purcell was less forrunate.

Peter Davies, Jim Laurier- Nr. 84

Hit by flak attacking the SAM barracks, he ejected from and was captured. The loss ofsix Fs on a single mission was clearly unsustainable, and berter tactics were needed ro avoid the flak and rhe SAMs. The highly mobile SA-2launchers which, in the words of 2nd Air Division CO Gen Joseph Moore, 'had precluded medium-altitude air operarions', could be moved in a few hours.

Its pilot, Capt H W Moore, was among a number of F aircrew who appeared to have ejected safely, but were never heard from again. With the latter, barreries of 37 mm ro 57 mm guns were focused on a set point and altitude from which aircraft had ro begin rheir bomb runs, ofren at the rop, or 'perch', of a 'pop-up' ro the roll-in dive-ro-arrack point, or at a predictable poinr as the F-1 05 pulled up from its arrack. To carch fighters at lower altitudes 'barrage fire' was used, with hundreds ofsmall arms or small-calibre AAA firing a currain of bullets through which the fighter would have ro pass.

Eighr more jets followed the initial strike up with M s. Hosmer received a Silver Srar for a well-executed arrack, although the site was empry. Sadly, few of the larrer were located that summer as McNamara noted disparagingly , and the missile launch vehicles' mobiliry allowed a SAM, inirially thought ro have been the more advanced SA-3, ro be fired at a rerurning F stri ke close ro the Laotian border on 9 Septem ber. Site attacks inrensified, and on 16 September Lt Col Robbie Risner's luck finally ran out when he led an Iron Handflight againsr a sire near rhe fabled Thanh Hoa bridge.

A week previously he had used differenr tacrics and flown as the only flak suppressor aircrafr in his flighr. His jet rook a head-on hit as he released his bombs in a carefully coordinated low a1tirude attack on the Yen Khaoi army base by the 67th TFS. Risner's canopy was blown offand a piece of red-hot shrapnel burned his shoulder and stabbed itself inro his seat headresr. Risner, stuck with his open-top 'Thud', tanking successfully from a KC before returning ro base. For the 16 September mission he put himselfon the hrs Iron Hand launch in place of anorher pilot, briefed over breakfast and rook off with two flights that split inro two-ship elemenrs nearer the targer.


His aircraft FD carried napalm for the 'Fan Song' radar unit and his wingman, Mike Stevens, had MIlls, which were ro be dropped on rhe sire from an afrerburner climb and dive attack. They approached the target so low rhat Risner had ro climb to avoid a ft hill, ar which poinr he was hit by AAA. Stevens a1erred him to a raging fire in rhe main fuel rank, but Risner lit rhe afrerburner, cleaned off his ordnance and headed for the coast at knots.

Only three miles from rhe warer the hydraulics finally drained out, causing the conrrol column to go full forward and the Choking Thiokol cartridge-starter fumes start to billow from MUMBLES on the Korat ramp.

F Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War - Osprey Publishing

The big cylindrical cartridge was ignited by the aircraft's battery, and it wound the engine up to 12 per cent revolutions, at which point the pilot pressed the 'start' button USAF 31 lJ. J tt:. By pulling a circuit breaker to neutralise the damaged and wildly oscillating automatic stabilisation system, and slowing the F down so that the fin was not ripped off, the highly experienced Broughton managed to nurse the aircraft home Col Jack Broughton F began an uncontrollable dive. Risner ejected and landed, with his lb survival kit still attached to him, rather than swinging below on a lanyard, and he soon began a seven-year stretch as a PoW.

After several other similar occurrences where F-I05s had crashed because they had lost all their hydraulic fluid, the jet was finally given an automatic lock to keep the stabilator in the neutral position.

F-105 Thunderchief MiG Killers of the Vietnam War

The aircraft could then fly straight and level when the hydraulics were hit, rather than diving earthward with the control column sometimes locked at an angle that could injure the pilot on ejection. Later still a more comprehensive fix introduced a third, back-up hydraulic system to give basic flight control. This was housed in a slim ridge fairing on the aircraft's spine.

Improvements in the aircraft's survivability in such an unexpectedly hostile environment were 'sorely needed and wanted', as Col Jack Broughton remembers, 'but fire retardant and a subsequent modification for protection from a violent pitch-down after complete loss of hydraulic pressure that could preclude safe ejection remained high on our wish list'. Fuel tanks were duly made self-sealing and lined with fire-retardant polyurethane foam, while fuel feed lines received better protection.

F-I05 units also had to urgently embrace anti-SAM measures. On 23 September, for example, pilots used the hair-raising 'SAM break' tactic for the first time. This involved watching the missile and turning towards it, before breaking away at the last moment to defeat its radar lock. Help was also on the way in the form of ECM additions to the aircraft. The aircraft began to burn fiercely and exploded moments later, killing its pilot. Another US Navy initiative in the form of the Texas Instruments AGM Shrike anti-radiation missile was tested in combat from August , A-4 Skyhawks achieving just two 'probable' hits with the weapon in 25 launches.

F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War

The missile had to be pre-tuned to a known radar frequency before launch, and fired at a distance ofjuSt five miles from the target. Its seeker head presented target data to the F-l 05 pilot as audio tones that were linked to the aircraft's attitude indicator, using the pitch and bank steering bars to present directional cues for launching the missile. SA-2 operators soon learned that switching their 'Fan Song' or 'Fire Can' units to standby mode upon detecting a Shrike launch broke the missile's lock. Attempting to make 'Fan Song' transmit long enough to fix its position via an RB electronic reconnaissance aircraft, 12 Fs flew with a Ryan D drone Six months later on 22 November , the jet's engine lost power, possibly after AAA damage, as it climbed away from its target.

At the time the aircraft carried two QRC pods, and as its pilot managed to coax the Thunderchief over the Thai border before ejecting, a search party was sent to recover the pods. The drone successfully tracked the location of three emission sources before being shor down, but when the F-l 05s closed in to attack the batteries, they were still unable to identifY the well-camouflaged sites visually, losing a 67th TFS F-I05D over their secondary bridge target. He targeted the F-l 05s for knot pop-up attacks against the second one and ran in for a Snakeye bomb attack on the first at ft.

Powers' Skyhawk took several AAA hits and he ejected, but was not heard from again.

The F-I05s took out a third acrive site with Ml17s before leaving. Meanwhile, losses continued, including a third squadron commander. Diverting to an armed reconnaissance instead, he was hit in cloud by an SA McCleary appeared to have ejected from F-1 05 D , but after a fruitless SARattempt he was listed as killed in action.

F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft) F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft)
F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft) F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft)
F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft) F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft)
F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft) F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft)
F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft) F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft)
F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft) F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft)
F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft) F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft)
F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft) F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft)
F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft) F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War (Combat Aircraft)

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