Once you love a "Thud" it lasts forever...
The F-105 Thunderchief - affectionately called a "Thud" - was the backbone of Operation Rolling Thunder during the Vietnam War. Just 833 of these magnificent planes were built by Republic Aviation. With losses approaching fifty percent, the Thud became the only aircraft to be removed from combat due to high loss rate.
The pilots who flew her - and the ground crews who kept her in the air - hold a special affection for this warhorse of a plane. Capable of reaching Mach 2.15, the F-105 was able to deliver heavy bomb loads against various military targets.
The F-105 was designed by Alexander Kartvelishvili, who also designed the P-47 Thunderbolt in 1939 while on a train ride from Washington, DC to New York City. Over 15,000 P-47s were built and was one of the main United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) fighters during WWII.
Design for the F-105 began in the early 1950's and was intended to replace the the F-85 Thunderjet. Originally intended as a low-altitude penetrator capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to a target deep within the Soviet Union, the F-105 was able to achieve speeds of Mach 2.15. The USAF had intended to purchase 1,500 F-105s but this order was reduced to 833 by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.
Kartvelishvili was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, at that time a part of Czarist Russia, and emigrated to the United States in 1928. Worried about possible retaliation from the Russians, Kartvelshvili's secret work was kept classified because of threats against scientists and engineers working for the United States. During his lifetime he did not receive the acclaim that other designers received. His death in 1974 in New York is still a mystery.