Saturday, September 8
Up-Close Aircraft Day
Vietnam War Attack Fighter (Republic F-105 Thunderchief)
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Join us for a close-up look at a Vietnam War Attack Fighter! When the F-105 Thunderchief entered service in the late 1950s, it was the largest single-seat, single-engine combat aircraft in history, weighing approximately 50,000 pounds. It could exceed the speed of sound at sea level, and reach Mach 2 at high altitudes while carrying up to 14,000 lbs. of bombs and missiles. Armed with missiles and a rotary cannon, the Thunderchief’s design was tailored to high-speed, low-altitude penetration carrying a single nuclear weapon internally.
The U.S. Air Force gradually changed the F-105’s mission from nuclear interdiction to conventional bombing. Upgrades in the early 1960s increased the aircraft’s capacity from four to 16 conventional 750 lb. bombs, and added the equipment to launch air-to-ground missiles. In June 1961, an F-105D delivered 15,430 lbs. of conventional bombs during a USAF test—at the time a record for a single-engine aircraft, with a payload three times heavier than American four-engine heavy bombers of World War II such as the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, though aerial refueling was required for long missions.
In spite of a troubled early service life, the F-105 became the dominant attack aircraft early in the Vietnam War and flew over 20,000 sorties. The Thunderchief could carry more than twice the bomb load farther and faster than the F-100 Super Sabre, which was used mostly in South Vietnam. The F-105 Thunderchief was later replaced as a strike aircraft over North Vietnam by both the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II and the swing-wing General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark. The March Field Air Museum’s F-105D Thunderchief, serial number 62-4383, served with the Pacific Air Force, Tactical Air Command and the Air Force Reserve before being retired in January 1984.
The Museum’s website features extensive information on each aircraft in its collection of more than 80 total, for those wishing to learn more. Knowledgeable museum docents, dressed in period uniforms whenever possible, will be on hand to assist visitors, provide information and answer questions. To learn more about the museum’s Republic F-105B Thunderchief, visit the AIRCRAFT tab on the museum’s website (click on "Fighter" category). Here’s your chance to get up-close viewing of this aircraft, and to ask questions of the March Field Air Museum’s knowledgeable docents!
Every second Saturday through 2018, a different aircraft is featured monthly during "Up-Close Aircraft Days" at the March Field Air Museum! Guests have the opportunity for a close look – sometimes climbing stairs to see directly into the cargo bay or cockpit, other times even climbing aboard. The new Up-Close Aircraft Days takes place every second Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Included with regular museum admission.