Republic F-84F Thunderstreak Service With NATO Air Forces

Last revised October 17, 1999






The F-84F was supplied in large numbers to NATO air forces. In fact, out of the 2711 Thunderstreaks built, 1301 were transferred to Europe for service with the air forces of allied nations.

France

First to get Thunderstreaks was France. The Armee de l'Air received its first Thunderstreaks in 1955. They equipped the the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 11 th Escadres. It was in French service that the Thunderstreak saw its only actual combat. This was during the Suez incident of October of 1956. On October 23, 1956, 36 French Thunderstreaks from the 1st Escadre flew to the Israeli base at Lyddia and at the same time F-84Fs from the 3rd Escadre moved to Akrotiri on Cyprus. The French Thunderstreaks at Lydda supported the Israeli forces that invaded Sinai on October 29. Cyprus-based units began direct attacks on Egyptian airfields on November 1. Twenty Egyptian Ilyushin Il-28 bombers were destroyed on the ground and one Il-28 was shot down by these Lydda-based units. These operations were concluded on November 6, and only one F-84F was lost. The French F-84Fs were replaced by Mirage IIIE in the mid 1960s.

Belgium

Belgium's Force Aerienne Belge began receiving F-84Fs in August of 1955. They replaced the F-84G Thunderjets of the 2nd and 10th Fighter Bomber wings. Most of the Belgian F-84Fs were replaced by F-104G Starfighters during the early 1960s.

Netherlands

The six tactical fighter bomber squadrons of Holland's Koninklijke Nederlandse Luchtmacht (Nos. 311 through 316) standardized on the F-84F in 1956. They were replaced by F-104G Starfighters during the early 1960s.

Italy

The Aeronautica Militare Italiano equipped three Air Brigades (Aerobrigata 5a, 51, and 51a) with F-84Fs in 1956.

West Germany

The newly-revived West German Luftwaffe received large numbers of F-84Fs. The Thunderstreak was in fact the first combat aircraft to be operated by the new Luftwaffe after the end of World War II. On June 20, 1958, the first German fighter-bomber wing, Jabo G.31, became operational. Four more, Jabo G.32, 34, and 35, were soon added. Some 450 Thunderstreaks served with the Luftwaffe during the late 1950s and early 1960s. The Thunderstreak was eventually replaced in Luftwaffe service by the European-built F-104G Starfighter.

Greece and Turkey

Some of the ex-German, Belgian, and Dutch Thunderstreaks were transferred to Greece and Turkey. It seems that every time a combat aircraft is transferred to Greece, one must also be transferred to Turkey, and vice versa. :-). Some of these Thunderstreaks remained operational into the late 1970s until they were finally replaced by Northrop F-5s. F-84Fs were employed by Turkey in the fighting over Cyprus during the 1970s, but I have no record of Greek and Turkish Thunderstreaks ever facing each other in combat.

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.