Republic F-84F Thunderstreak Service With USAF

Last revised September 24, 2000






The USAF had the F-84F in service with twelve Wings by June of 1955. Six of them were attached to the Tactical Air Command (TAC) and six to the Strategic Air Command (SAC).

The F-84Fs serving with the TAC were equipped for the delivery of nuclear weapons. The nuclear bomb-toting Thunderstreaks were equipped with the Low Altitude Bombing System (LABS). When using the LABS to deliver a nuclear bomb, the strategy was for the F-84F to come racing toward the target at tree-top level. When nearing the target, the F-84F was to make a half loop upward, release its bomb, and then escape the nuclear blast with a rapid high-speed Immelmann to head back where it came from. Fortunately, the Thunderstreak was never called upon to carry out such missions in real combat.

The Thunderstreak-equipped USAF wings attached to the Strategic Air Command served as fighter escorts for B-29, B-50, and B-36 long-range strategic bombers. As these bombers were replaced by jets, SAC relinquished its F-84Fs and turned them over to the Tactical Air Command. By mid-1957, all the USAF Thunderstreaks had been shifted over to the TAC.

The Thunderstreak was flown by the following Fighter Bomber Groups of the USAF:

The pilots of the TAC and SAC found the F-84F to be a rather difficult plane to fly. Its loaded weight of 20,000 pounds and its landing speed of 155 mph made it a rather "hot" ship for pilots who were more familiar to lighter and slower-landing machines, and it took a bit of getting used to. In addition, the handling properties of the F-84F were somewhat tricky, and certain maneuvers were deemed too dangerous to perform except in extreme emergencies. Nevertheless, the F-84F achieved a reputation for being of extremely robust construction and of high reliability, and it offered a relatively smooth ride through turbulent low-level air.

Gradually, the F-84F was replaced in front-line service by the North American F-100 Super Sabre. Numerous F-84Fs were turned over to Air National Guard units as they were withdrawn from USAF units. However, the Berlin Crisis of 1961 saw the recall of numerous F-84Fs to active duty--the 141st Tactical Fighter Squadron from McGuire AFB, the 163rd TFS from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and the 166th TFS from Columbus, Ohio were Air National Guard units that were deployed to Europe in response to the crisis. The F-84F remained with TAC until the mid 1960s, when they were replaced by McDonnell F-4C Phantoms. The F-84Fs with the Air National Guard were finally phased out in the late 1960s. The last F-84F left ANG service in 1971.

Sources:

  1. Fighters of the United States Air Force, Robert F. Dorr and David Donald, Temple Press Aerospace, 1990.

  2. The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion, 1987.

  3. American Combat Planes, Third Enlarged Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982.

  4. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian, 1989.

  5. The Republic F-84F Thunderstreak, Ray Wagner, Profile Publications, 1966.

  6. E-mail from Don Runyon on 506th Strategic Fighter Wing.