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  • Ryan AQM-34N

    In the mid-1960s the U.S. Air Force needed a system to conduct reconnaissance and gather intelligence without putting aircrews in danger. Ryan's proven Model 147 Firebee unmanned target drone, built in more than 20 variants, filled the requirement. The Model 147H, designated AQM-34N by the USAF,

  • Republic RF-84K Thunderflash

    The RF-84K was a reconnaissance and nuclear strike fighter that was intended to be carried toward a target as a "parasite" underneath the GRB-36 bomber. At the time, jet aircraft possessed relatively short range and aerial refueling was not yet proven, so this provided a method to extend their

  • Republic F-84F Thunderstreak

    Evolved from the straight-wing F-84, the F-84F prototype first flew in June 1950. Deliveries began in 1954, with most of the aircraft going to the Tactical Air Command as a ground support fighter bomber. Republic built 2,112 F-84Fs while General Motors fabricated 599 more. Of these, 1,301 were

  • Rocket Engine Evolution

    The first American rocket engine to produce more thrust than the 56,000 pounds delivered by the German V-2 (A-4) engine was the Rocketdyne XLR43-NA-1. Initially, this engine developed 75,000 pounds static thrust, but later its power output was improved to 120,000 pounds. The XLR43 was originally

  • Rocket Propulsion

    Origins of Rocket Propulsion Although the precise history of the development of rocket propulsion is obscure, we know that the first rockets were developed in ancient China. Modern rocket engines that lift spacecraft into orbit operate on the very same principles as the first Chinese rockets. Both

  • Return with Honor: American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia

    American prisoners of war (POWs) in Southeast Asia endured inhuman torture, political exploitation, filthy living conditions and endless attempts at communist indoctrination. North Vietnam treated U.S. servicemen not as POWs but as foreign invaders and criminals bent on subverting Vietnam's

  • Rescue Attempt: The Son Tay Raid

    In 1970, U.S. forces attempted to rescue POWs from captivity in North Vietnam. American officials decided a daring operation in the heart of North Vietnam was worth the risk, and President Richard Nixon asked the Pentagon to explore "some unconventional rescue ideas." Planning the RaidThe target was

  • ROLLING THUNDER Missions over the North

    In addition to the F-105 "Thud," a variety of Air Force aircraft flew over the North during ROLLING THUNDER. F-4 Phantoms provided air cover against enemy MiG fighters and occasionally conducted bombing missions too. RF-101s and RF-4s took reconnaissance photographs of the North. B-66s conducted

  • Radar Homing and Warning: The Key to the Wild Weasels

    On Aug. 3, 1965, a group of military and industry officials headed by USAF Brig. Gen. Kenneth Dempster met in secret to examine how to counter the SA-2. One recommendation was to equip a small number of fighter aircraft with radar homing and warning (RHAW) equipment to detect and attack SAM

  • Rescue of Bat 21

    In one of the most difficult rescues of the war, Lt. Col. Iceal "Gene" Hambleton was recovered from enemy territory after 11 1/2 days on the ground. This was the largest rescue operation in USAF history. On April 2, 1972, 53-year-old navigator Lt. Col. Hambleton was the only crewmember to safely