Built in the 1950s to deliver a nuclear weapon at supersonic speeds, the F-105 was the largest single-seat, single-engine fighter ever built. Later versions of the plane carried two flyers—a pilot and an electronic warfare officer.
Though designed for conflict with the Soviets, the F-105 proved its worth in the fighter-bomber role over Vietnam a decade later. F-105 pilots dropped thousands of tons of bombs and are officially credited with shooting down 27.5 MiG fighters. While effective in combat, nearly half of the 833 F-105s built were lost during actions in the dangerous skies over Southeast Asia.
This F-105G saw service in Southeast Asia from 1968 to 1973, flying numerous bombing and electronic warfare missions. The plane’s name, Patience, and its buzzard artwork was inspired by a one-panel cartoon of the era where scavengers pondered the merits of becoming aggressive predators.
History of the Artifact
The FHCAM’s aircraft was built in 1964 as an F-105F and served with the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing in March of 1968, based in Korat, Thailand. The aircraft flew numerous combat missions including October of 1968, when the plane was badly damaged during a dive bombing run.
In 1971, the plane was heavily modified and re-designated an F-105G “Wild Weasel.” The FHCAM’s aircraft returned to Korat in mid-1972 and was used to suppress, attack, and destroy enemy surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries during Linebacker I and II. It is believed that this aircraft was the last Wild Weasel to leave North Vietnamese airspace on the final night of bombing. Upon returning to the U.S., the plane served in USAF and Air National Guard units though the early 1980s.
Did you know?
The F-105 Thunderchief’s nickname, “Thud,” was inspired by Chief Thunderthud, a character on the Howdy Doody TV series.
This aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force