On a recent visit to the Flying Heritage Collection it was cool to see the newest static addition to their museum, a Republic F-105G Thunderchief called “Patience” (serial number 63-8336). The aircraft was originally manufactured in 1964 as a two-seat, fully combat capable F-105F trainer (earlier production model F-105B/D aircraft were single seaters) but was heavily modified in 1971 to become an F-105G Surface to Air Missile (SAM) suppression “Wild Weasel” attack aircraft (high aircraft losses to air defences during the Vietnam War required new weaponry to suppress or eliminate the threat). F-105 crews nicknamed them the “Thud”.
The “Wild Weasel” aircraft were fitted with new sensors, electronic jamming equipment and anti-radar missiles. The most noticeable difference from the earlier F-105F variant is the AN/ALQ-105 electronic countermeasure systems that were permanently installed in the two long blisters along the underside of the fuselage of the F-105G.
This big attack aircraft saw service with the USAF during the Vietnam War over North Vietnam first as a fighter-bomber F-105F from 1968 and then later as an F-105G “Wild Weasel” attack aircraft from 1972-1973 crewed by a pilot and Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO). During this time the aircraft operated out of Korat, Thailand with the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing and more specifically with the 17th Wild Weasel Squadron participated in the 1972 Operation Linebacker I and II bombing offensives of North Vietnam.
After the Vietnam War this F-105G served on with the USAF and Air National Guard in the United States until retired in the early 1980’s. The big “Thud” is on long term loan from the National Museum of the USAF. During my visit it was cool to see it’s big shark mouth alongside the collections “Flying Tigers” Curtiss P-40C Tomahawk that sports a similar snarling mouth!
On a typical “Wild Weasel” mission an F-105G would be armed with a single AGM-78 Standard ARM and two AGM-48 Shrike Anti Radiation Missiles (they would home in on enemy anti-aircraft radar signals). The F-105 was also fitted with a Vulcan M61A1 20mm rotary cannon with 1,028 rounds of ammunition and various pylon mounted fuel tanks to maximise operational range.