Published September 27, 2007
Republic F-105D-5-RE "Thunderchief"
Engine: One Pratt & Whitney J75-P-19W turbojet; 26,500 lbs thrust with afterburner and water injection
Wingspan: 34 ft 11 in
Length: 64 ft 5 in
Height: 19 ft 8 in
Weight: empty: 27,500 lbs; max: 52,838 lbs
Speed: max: 1,420 mph; cruise: 778 mph
Range: combat: 778 miles; max: 2,208 miles
Service Ceiling: 51,000 ft
Armament: One 20mm M61A1 rotary cannon with 1,028 rounds; 14,000 lbs ordnance (up to 8,000 lbs ordnance in internal weapons bay; up to 6,000 lbs ordnance on external racks -- 4 underwing and 1 centerline)
Cost: $2,140,000 (approximate)
This F-105D-5-RE "Arkansas Traveller," S/N 59-1743, was manufactured by Republic Aviation Corporation in Farmingdale, New York, and delivered to the USAF on November 30, 1960. It was first assigned to the 4520th Combat Crew Training Wing of the Tactical Air Command at Nellis AFB, Nevada.
On April 21, 1964 it was transferred to the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, and on June 14, 1966 went to the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Korat Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand. While with the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 388th in June 1967 the aircraft was dubbed "Darn Dago." It suffered combat damage on several missions and was repaired more than once by a RAM team stationed at Korat from the Sacramento Air Logistics Center.
In December 1968 the aircraft moved to the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 388th TFW. There it was renamed "Arkansas Traveller" and was flown by Col. Paul P. Douglas, Jr., commander of the 388th. The eight swastikas painted beneath the cockpit on the port side represent German aircraft downed by Col. Douglas during World War II. In accordance with USAF policy he was allowed to paint these emblems on his F-105 even though this aircraft was not the one in which he was credited with the kills. The credits belong to the pilot and not the aircraft.
During runway repairs at Korat in early 1969, the aircraft was moved to Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, still with the 388th. From there the aircraft flew several strike missions into the Barrel Roll and Steel Tiger regions of Laos. Later the plane returned to its home base at Korat.
On May 8, 1969 the aircraft was transferred to the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing at Takhli RTAB when the 34th TFS of the 388th TFW converted to F-4Es. While operating with the 354th the plane was renamed "Lead Zeppelin" and was flown by Lt. Glen Cloes.
The aircraft was transferred to the 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing at McConnell AFB, Kansas, on October 19, 1970 and was placed in flyable storage. The following January it was prepared for transfer and went to the 192nd Tactical Fighter Group of the Virginia Air National Guard at Byrd Field in Richmond. There the plane was renamed "Hanoi Express" while flying with the 149th Tactical Fighter Squadron.
In March 1981 the aircraft was dropped from the USAF inventory with 4,500 flight hours and became the property of the USAF Museum System. It was transported to Hill AFB and restored to its former appearance while serving with the 388th TFW as "Arkansas Traveller." (The "JJ" tail code denotes the 34th TFS of the 388th at Korat RTAB, Thailand.)
On February 25, 1984 the plane was placed on static display in the 419th TFW hangar for the "Thud Out" ceremonies commemorating the retirement of all F-105s. It was moved to Hill Aerospace Museum in 1987. Today, "Arkansas Traveller" is proudly displayed by the museum as a lasting tribute to the many Americans who flew and died with the F-105 in Vietnam.