The Republic Aviation F-105 Thunderchief
A design of the 1950s, this Cold War nuclear strike bomber played a pivotal role in the air war over Vietnam
A 24 x 18 inch profile illustration of Republic F-105D S/N 61-504, otherwise known as "Memphis Belle II", taken after the WWII B-17F "Flying Fortress" of the same name. The profile illustration shows "Memphis Belle II" loaded with 750 pound bombs on her center line bomb rack, with external fuel tanks and more 750 pound bombs on her wing hard points. This aircraft and her pilots were responsible for shooting down two MiG-17s over north Vietnam. The aircraft is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
A 24 x 18 inch profile illustration of the Republic F-105B Thunderchief. The F-105 in this illustration bears the markings of the 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron ("The Chiefs), stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. The differences between the "B" and the "D" variants of the Thunderchief are apparent in this illustration, in addition to the eye-catching tail flash and the "Chiefs" emblem painted underneath the aircraft canopy. All Thunderchiefs were originally flown in a natural metal finish. "Operation Look-Alike" changed this, however, and ordered all the aircraft painted the same color of silver lacquer paint.
The Republic F-105 was the largest and fastest single engine fighter/bomber ever made. It was initially intended as a nuclear penetration bomber, and was able to carry one nuclear bomb within its internal bomb bay. Traveling at supersonic speeds, and at low altitude, its purpose was to strike within the former Soviet Union, release its ordinance, and hopefully egress safely to a friendly airbase. It was used much differently in the 1960s during the Vietnam War, however, as a conventional bomber. With its ability to carry a heavier bomb load than the renowned World War Two B-17 "Flying Fortress", the Thunderchief and her crews fought against the most dangerous and heavily defended targets of the air war over north Vietnam. In addition, "Wild Weasel" F-105s flew dangerous missions suppressing surface-to-air missiles (SAM) in support of bombing raids into the north.