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100 Missions North in the “Thud”


Achieving 100 missions over North Vietnam in an F-105 "Thud" had particularly special meaning. During some periods, it was more likely than not that an F-105 Airman would be shot down at least once during his tour, and the odds of completing a 100-mission tour were not good. 

Though they were fighters, F-105 Thunderchiefs were the primary bombers of the ROLLING THUNDER campaign. Thud pilots constantly flew bombing missions over very heavily defended targets. They often attacked these same targets several days in a row. Moreover, F-105 crews flew dangerous Wild Weasel anti-SAM missions. Thuds flew in the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base (RTAFB), Thailand, and the 388th TFW at Korat RTAFB. 

The USAF lost 334 F-105s in combat (all but one over North Vietnam or Laos) during the Southeast Asia War. Most of these occurred during ROLLING THUNDER, and they represent nearly 20 percent of all USAF combat losses during the war. Accidents or malfunctions claimed 63 more F-105s. From 1964-1972, over one-half of all F-105Ds, F-105Fs and F-105Gs produced were lost in Southeast Asia. 

The USAF rescued 99 downed F-105 Airmen, but another 214 were killed, missing-in-action (MIA), or became POWs (some of whom did not survive captivity).

Click here to return to Badge of Honor: 100 Missions Up North.