Aviation Historian 5
-
D.Gordon, I.Bott - Days of Thunder
The Thunderstreaks of the 81st FBW were regular visitors to British airshows in the 1950s, 52-6718 of the 78th FBS being seen here alongside Boeing KB-29P 0-469716 of the 420th Air Refuelling Squadron - the O-designation was added to operational USAF aircraft serials (in this case 44-69716) to indicate they were more than ten years old.
In July 1958 the 81st FBW was redesignated the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing in preparation for deliveries of its new mount, the McDonnell F-101 Voodoo. This example, 56-0027 of the 81st TFW, was one of those that started replacing the F-84Fs in late 1958.
This F-84F-45-RE, 52-6737, is seen in the distinctive yellow markings of the 92nd FBS, which was based at RAF Manston from March 1955 until the end of April 1958, at which time it joined the rest of the 81st FBW at RAF Bentwaters.
The first Republic F-84Fs for the 81st Fighter Bomber Wing, based at Bentwaters and Shepherds Grove, began arriving in October 1954. This Thunderstreak, 52-6449, was the mount of Lt Joe Williams of the 78th FBS, based at Shepherds Grove.
Lieutenant Joe Williams (left) poses with his crew chief at Shepherds Grove beside his Thunderstreak. “I was not overly fond of the F-84F or its mission. Going from fighter-interceptor to special missions was a big change for us all. But when you wear the uniform, you must go with the change. ”
Lieutenant Don Mikler and F-84F at Nouasseur in December 1955. The USAF in Europe (USAFE) used Nouasseur in Morocco and Wheelus in Libya for fair-weather weapons practice for all of its units.
На протяжении 1950-х годов части ВВС США в Европе активно оснащались Thunderstreak со стреловидным крылом. Этот F-84F-50-RE служил в 91-й эскадрилье, базировавшейся в британском Бентуотерсе.
Lieutenant Harry Eckes of the 91st Fighter Bomber Squadron (FBS) en route to Nouasseur, Morocco, in F-84F 52-6852. The flight to the North African base covered a distance of more than 1,200 miles (1,930 km) and took about 2hr. Note the badge of the 81st FBW on the fuselage, and the individual squadron badge at the tip of the fin.
Wearing both the 81st FBW’s badge on the fuselage and the lizard badge of the 78th FBS (nicknamed the “Bushmasters”) on the fin, Thunderstreak 52-6749 was photographed at Bentwaters Armed Forces Day in 1958. The sunburst markings on the fin and the panel on the nose were dark red.
The Thunderstreaks of the 81st FBW were occasionally fitted with jet-assisted take-off (JATO) rocket bottles to improve the type’s take-off performance when heavily laden. In this photo of 78th FBS Thunderstreak 52-6780 the aft ends of the JATO bottles may just be seen behind the tail-end of the wing-mounted fuel tank.
The Thunderstreaks of the 81st FBW were regular visitors to British airshows in the 1950s, 52-6718 of the 78th FBS being seen here alongside Boeing KB-29P 0-469716 of the 420th Air Refuelling Squadron - the O-designation was added to operational USAF aircraft serials (in this case 44-69716) to indicate they were more than ten years old.
Lieutenant Don Mikler heads out for the range on one of the 81st’s many practice missions, in which the Wing’s Thunderstreaks would rehearse the prescribed techniques for toss-bombing and the Low-Altitude Bombing System (LABS), either of which could be used to deliver a nuclear weapon should the need arise.
Thunderstreaks of the Bentwaters-based 91st FBS peel off for a series of publicity photographs in 1956. Republic was keen to extol the type’s virtues, the accompanying press release claiming that the F-84 “adds speed and atomic punch to the free world's air arsenal”.
“C” Flight of the 91st FBS flies a four-aircraft formation for a publicity shoot. Captain Jack Bowman leads the quartet, accompanied by Lieutenants Don Hanto, Jim Wilson and Harry Eckes. The blue lightning flashes on the fin were just one example of the variety of markings carried by the 91st FBS during the Thunderstreak period.
The problem - Gil Leimbach’s F-84F after having sailed through the arresting barrier at Shepherds Grove in March 1955. The barriers at Bentwaters and “The Grove” both proved inadequate