Republic RF-84F Thunderflash

Last revised October 17, 1999

The RF-84F Thunderflash was the photographic reconnaissance version of the F-84F Thunderstreak. It had many components in common with the F-84F, but differed in having the jet engine fed by a pair of wing root air intakes, the nose being taken up by a bank of cameras.

The second YF-84F prototype had actually been completed with wing root air intakes, leaving the nose with a solid cover. At that time, it was found that the wing root intakes resulted in thrust losses, and they were not adopted for production F-84F Thunderstreaks. However, the USAF was in need of a replacement for its aging Lockheed RF-80 Shooting Star unarmed reconnaissance aircraft, and concluded that the YF-84F with its wing root air intakes might make a good camera-carrying reconnaissance aircraft.

The first pre-production prototype, designated YRF-84F (51-1828) was completed in February of 1952. It had wing root inlets and a new nose enlarged to accommodate cameras. Four 0.50-inch machine guns were fitted in the wing roots, and a reinforced sliding cockpit canopy was used. Later, a set of dual wing fences were added to each wing.

Forty-one wing-root-intake reconnaissance versions were ordered in June of 1952 under the designation RF-84F. The popular name Thunderflash was given to these aircraft. The first production RF-84F (51-1829) exchanged the sliding canopy of the earlier prototype for the upward hinging canopy and the raised turtledeck that was standard on the F-84F. The first production block aircraft were fitted with the Wright J65-W-3. In June of 1955, the RF-84F-20-RE production block introduced the Wright J65-W-7 of 7800 Late production RF-84Fs introduced spoilers on the upper surfaces of each wing to boost the maximum rate of roll to 300 degrees per second. This was done mainly to accommodate asymmetric "hang-ups" of underwing tanks.

The camera bay in the nose could accommodate up to six cameras in forward- facing, trimetrogen and individual oblique and vertical installations. The vertical camera bay had hydraulically-operated retractable doors, and behind these doors was an aperture for a vertical viewfinder with a periscope presentation on the cockpit panel. Photoflash ejectors could be carried in underwing tanks for nighttime photograpic reconnaissance missions.

Specification of the RF-84F:

One Wright J65-W-7 turbojet rated at 7800 Performance: Maximum speed (clean), 679 mph at sea level (Mach 0.89), 627 mph at 5000 feet, 607 mph at 35,000 feet (Mach 0.92). The RF-84F is redlined at Mach 1.175 in a dive. Tactical radial (clean): 420 miles at 36,000 feet. Maximum range with two 450 US gallon drop tanks is 2000 miles. Initial climb rate (clean) is 7900 feet per minute. Service ceiling: 46,000 feet. Weights: 14,014 pounds empty, 20,091 pounds combat weight, and 25,390 pounds maximum takeoff. Dimensions were wingspan 33 feet 7 inches, length 47 feet 8 inches, height 15 feet 0 inches, wing area 325 square feet. Armament consisted of four 0.50-inch M-3 machine guns mounted in the outer intake walls.


51-1828 	Republic YRF-84F-RE Thunderflash 
51-1829/1831 	Republic RF-84F-1-RE Thunderflash 
51-1832 	Republic RF-84F-25-RE Thunderflash 
51-1833/1838 	Republic RF-84F-1-RE Thunderflash 
51-1839/1873 	Republic RF-84F-5-RE Thunderflash 
51-1874/1938 	Republic RF-84F-10-RE Thunderflash 
51-1939/1948 	Republic RF-84F-15-RE Thunderflash 
51-1949 	Republic RF-84F-16-RE Thunderflash 
51-1950/1956 	Republic RF-84F-15-RE Thunderflash 
51-1957/1958 	Republic RF-84F-16-RE Thunderflash 
51-11250 	Republic RF-84F-16-RE Thunderflash 
51-11251/11252 	Republic RF-84F-15-RE Thunderflash 
51-11253/11254 	Republic RF-84F-16-RE Thunderflash 
51-11255/11256 	Republic RF-84F-15-RE Thunderflash 
51-11257 	Republic RF-84F-16-RE Thunderflash 
51-11258/11294 	Republic RF-84F-15-RE Thunderflash 
51-11295/11296 	Republic RF-84F-20-RE Thunderflash 
51-11297 	Republic RF-84F-21-RE Thunderflash 
51-16996/17002 	Republic RF-84F-21-RE Thunderflash 
51-17003/17015 	Republic RF-84F-25-RE Thunderflash 
51-17016/17036 	Republic RF-84F-26-RE Thunderflash 
51-17037/17042 	Republic RF-84F-25-RE Thunderflash 
51-17043/17058 	Republic RF-84F-26-RE Thunderflash 
52-7229/7233 	Republic RF-84F-21-RE Thunderflash 
52-7234/7235 	Republic RF-84F-20-RE Thunderflash 
52-7236/7243 	Republic RF-84F-21-RE Thunderflash 
52-7244/7278 	Republic RF-84F-20-RE Thunderflash 
52-7279/7286 	Republic RF-84F-26-RE Thunderflash 
52-7287/7295 	Republic RF-84F-25-RE Thunderflash 
52-7296/7307 	Republic RF-84F-26-RE Thunderflash 
52-7308/7318 	Republic RF-84F-25-RE Thunderflash 
52-7319/7339 	Republic RF-84F-26-RE Thunderflash 
52-7340/7351 	Republic RF-84F-25-RE Thunderflash 
52-7352/7354 	Republic RF-84F-26-RE Thunderflash 
52-7355/7377 	Republic RF-84F-25-RE Thunderflash 
52-7378/7385 	Republic RF-84F-30-RE Thunderflash 
52-7386/7405 	Republic RF-84F-31-RE Thunderflash 
52-7378/7385 	Republic RF-84F-30-RE Thunderflash 
52-7386/7405 	Republic RF-84F-31-RE Thunderflash 
52-7406/7432 	Republic RF-84F-30-RE Thunderflash 
52-7433/7472 	Republic RF-84F-31-RE Thunderflash 
52-7473 	Republic RF-84F-35-RE Thunderflash 
52-7474/7475 	Republic RF-84F-36-RE Thunderflash 
52-8717/8766 	Republic RF-84F-36-RE Thunderflash 
53-7521/7532 	Republic RF-84F-35-RE Thunderflash 
53-7533/7558 	Republic RF-84F-40-RE Thunderflash 
53-7559 	Republic RF-84F-41-RE Thunderflash 
53-7560/7583 	Republic RF-84F-46-RE Thunderflash 
53-7584/7590 	Republic RF-84F-41-RE Thunderflash 
53-7591/7616 	Republic RF-84F-40-RE Thunderflash 
53-7617/7633 	Republic RF-84F-46-RE Thunderflash 
53-7634/7640 	Republic RF-84F-45-RE Thunderflash 
53-7641/7697 	Republic RF-84F-46-RE Thunderflash 
57-6552/6716 	May be RF-84F supplied to Germany 


  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.