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Republic F-84 Thunderjet: USAF’s turbojet fighter-bomber

The aircraft we are presenting today is the Republic F-84 Thunderjet which was the Turbojet fighter bomber that served the USAAF (United States Army Air Corps) back in 1944 as their day fighter which made its first flight back in 1946. Despite the aircraft entering he service officially in 1947, the Republic F-84 Thunderjet was plagued by many drawbacks in its structural phases as well as riunn9ing into engine problems which even led to the USAAF at some point cancelling the entire project. It was not until 1949 that the Republic F-84 Thunderjet was deemed fit for the military service under model name F-84D with the first worthy model being the F-84G entering service in 1951.

The Republic F-84 Thunderjet was a straight-wing fighter bomber of which the swept-wing variants were created under the designations F-84F Thunderstreak; a fighter jet and the RF-84F Thunderflash; a photo-reconnaissance turbojet.




During the Korean War, the Republic F-84 Thunderjet was hailed as the primary fighter jet of the USAF as it flew for a total of 86000 sorties while destroying 60 percent of its targets on the ground and having 8 aerial kills of MiG fighters. A total of nearly 7500 Republic F-84 Thunderjets were manufactured and half of them were delivered to the US-friendly NATO nations and is also the first jet that flew with the demonstration team named US Air Force Thunderbirds. From years in-between 1948 to 1957, the USAF Strategic Air Command had the Republic F-84 Thunderjet in service.

It is also the first fighter jet of the USAF to have utilized the feature of In-flight Refueling as well as the first fighter jet to carry the nuclear payload which was the Mark 7 nuclear bomb. Many of the Republic F-84 Thunderjet aircraft were modified to be used in unusual projects such as Project Tom-Tom and an experimental turboprop aircraft named XF-84 Thunderscreech.

Origin:-

The design work of the Republic F-84 Thunderjet can be traced back as far as the closing days of the World War II which the Republic’s Chief aircraft designer named Alexander Kartveli working on a replacement aircraft for the P-47 Thunderbolt. Kartveli took the design of P-47 as the starting point for creating the turbojet engine for the Republic F-84 Thunderjet. In the September 1944, USAAF was making a specification for upgrading their fighter groups which called for an aircraft that could be powered by the single General Electric TG-180 turbojet engine for having a top speed of 600mph with combat range of 705 miles. USAAF noticed the work of the Republic’s AP-23 design and gave them a no-competition contract for development of XP-84 Thunderjet.

Republic F-84 Thunderjet was only a little bit slower than British Gloster Meteor:-

The first fly worth prototype of the Republic F-84 Thunderjet which was designated as XP-48A was ready in February of 1946 and had its first flight on 28th February 1946. The aircraft proved to be a great success as it achieved the top speed of 607.2 mph which proved to be the fasted US-designed aircraft of its era. This speed was only 5 mph short of the world record set by the British Gloster Meteor.

Weapons:-

For the basic weapons system, the Republic F-84 Thunderjet was fitted with the simple armament including 6 of the 12.7mm M3 Browning heavy machine guns, which were not included in the RF-84. 4 of these heavy machine guns were fitted on the upper front of the fuselage section just on top of the intake opening whereas the remaining 2 machine guns were fitted on the wing roots; 1 gun on each wing.

In addition to this, a Republic F-84 Thunderjet could also be fitted with mission-specific munitions like 24 of the 5-inch ro0ckets, bombs and in some missions a single Mark 7 Nuclear bomb. The external munition carrying capacity of the Republic F-84 Thunderjet was about 4500lbs.

Powerplant & Performance:-

A standard Republic F-84 Thunderjet was powered by a single Allison J-35-A-13C turbojet engine which could develop a thrust of about 5560 lbs. with this much power generation, the aircraft could achieve a top speed of nearly 600 mph for a combat range of 750 miles while the ferry range was about 1199 miles. As for the ceiling service achieved by the Republic F-84 Thunderjet, it was about 40500 feet with rate-of-climb being 4060 ft/min.

F-84 Thunderstreak, Thunderflash and Thunderscreech:-

The model of Republic F-84 Thunderjet designated as F-84F was the one that gave birth to the swept winged fighter bomber jet fighters in the family of Thunderjet aircraft. In the most notable swept wing variants of the Republic F-84 Thunderjet, there was the RF-84F Thunderflash, which was a reconnaissance jet as it was equipped with camera equipment in its nose section.

There was another experimental variant of the Republic F-84 Thunderjet which was also the final form of the Thunderjet. This was a supersonic turboprop-powered aircraft named as XF-84H Thunderscreech that had a prop fitted onto its nose section. Another model of the same version was created which was named as YF-84J Thunderscreech.

Project Tom-Tom:-

For the USAF’s Project Tom-Tom, 2 models of the Republic F-84 Thunderjet were used which were the F-84F and the RF-84F. These 2 fighters were attached to the underbelly on the Convair B-36 Peacemaker Bomber as the parasite fighters. These two fighters were envisioned for the role of strike fighters during a bombing run. A B-36 Peacemaker would utilize its long-range and high altitude capabilities to reach the enemy’s defense perimeter and then release the Republic F-84 Thunderjet fighters to make quick delivery of the nuclear payload and then return to its mothership.

Delivered to US’s NATO allies:-

Due to the Mutual Defense Assistance Program, the rest of the world had a chance of tasting the power that was the Republic F-84 Thunderjet. Nearly 3000 of the Republic F-84 Thunderjet aircraft were de delivered by the US to its ally nations of NATO which included countries like Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Turkey, and Norway among many others.

Notable Performance by a Republic F-84 Thunderjet:-

Back on 7th September 1950 two of the EF-84E models of the Thunderjet made a journey across the Atlantic Ocean from UK to US in only 10 hours. During this flight one of the aircraft was lost resulting due to lack of fuel while the second one was assisted 3 times by aerial refueling.

Another model of the Thunderjet designated F-84G accompanied a KC-97 tanker aircraft from the Strategic Air Command and flew for a total of 4485 miles non-stop from the Turner Air Force Base in Georgia, USA to the RAF Base located in Lakenheath, UK during the Operation Longstride.

Retirement:-

Ultimately, the end of the Republic F-84 Thunderjet also came early as newer and better strike platforms with jet technology were arriving. USAF retired their fleet of Republic F-84 Thunderjet aircraft back in 1964. As for the last of the Republic F-84 Thunderjet to retire from military service, it occurred back in 1974 by the Yugoslavian Air Force.

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