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F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War

F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2010 Title F-105 Thunderchief Units of the Vietnam War
Author Peter E. Davies Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2010 ISBN 978-1-84603-492-3
Format 96 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $22.95


This latest release from Osprey is an interesting look into the combat operations of the F-105 Thunderchief (AKA 'Thud') over Southeast Asia. Originally designed as a nuclear strike aircraft, the Thud was one of the few tactical aircraft in USAF service that could be adapted into conventional strike role quickly. As the Air Force shifted gears to acquire suitable strike aircraft, the burden of the tactical strike mission was levied against the Hun (F-100 Super Sabre) and the Thud. As the story goes, the nickname 'Thud' comes from the sound the aircraft made hitting the ground.

While the aircraft had some teething problems in its new mission, there was no better aircraft available in any service that could get bombs on target and get out like the Thud. As the MiGs came up to pounce on the bomb-laden Thuds, the North Vietnamese soon realized that even though the Thud couldn't maneuver with the MiG-17, the combination of tactics and the M61 Vulcan cannon made the F-105 the leading MiG-17 killer of the war (with the F-4 scoring highest against the MiG-21).

In the new Wild Weasel mission, the Thuds initially served as the 'Killer' in the Hunter-Killer tactics flown together with the specially modified F-100F Wild Weasels. After striking their SAM sites, Weasel drivers quickly earned the slogan 'First In, Last Out' when they watched their Thud bombers egress on the deck supersonic leaving the Hun Weasels to motor out on their own. When the F-100Fs were finally shot up in the early days of the Weasel mission, Weasel crews quickly snapped up the F-105F to hunt and kill from the same airframe.

This title looks at the F-105 in its operational missions over Southeast Asia in support of the 'public' war over North Vietnam as well as of the 'secret' war over Laos. The coverage of this title includes:

  • From Nukes to Napes
  • War in Laos
  • Rolling Thunder
  • Strikes and Losses
  • The MiG Killers
  • Wild Weasels

The author has compiled a nice selection of period color and black & white photos to illustrate operations in theater as well as a nice selection of color profiles of the airframes. He's even got one of an interesting F-105 that was one of several that came out of IRAN (Inspect and Repair As Necessary) painted to the USAF Technical Orders, but the colors were swapped around.

This book is a must have for the modeler and aviation historian interested in modern air operations. Recommended!

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!