February 25th, 1984 – Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Ceiling: 2,000-feet. Visibility: one mile in blowing snow. The sun breaks through just as the last three Republic F-105 Thunderchiefs in the world appear over the 419th Tactical Fighter Wing – The Air Force’s last operational F-105 unit; this was “Thud Out” – the ultimate retirement ceremony.Thud 01," tail number 63-8287, was flown by Lt. Col. James Webster and carried honorary passenger Col. Tom Coady – highest combat time F-105 pilot. Flying “Thud 02” number 63-8261, was Major Frank Bernard with Medal of Honor winner Col. Merlyn Dethlefsen in the rear seat. “Thud 03,” number 53-8309, was piloted by Major Barry Wyttenbach and carried Medal of Honor recipient Col. Leo K. Thorsness. The formation of F-105’s is depicted at the exact moment “Thud 01” begins the pitch-out for the final landing. Below, a memorial to all pilots who lost their lives flying F-105’s is dedicated in the form of a D-model mounted on a pylon at the unit entrance. This aircraft, tail number 62-4347, was the highest-time Thunderchief in the inventory with 6,730.5 flight hours. The first of the unit’s new F-16’s are parked on the flightline – a fitting replacement for America’s largest-ever single-seat, single-engine combat aircraft.EDITION: 1000 signed/numbered by Mike Machat, Lt. Col. James Webster, Major Frank Bernard and Major Barry Wyttenbach. SIZE: 18” x 24” The Republic F-105 Thunderchief was a supersonic fighter-bomber used by the United States Air Force. The Mach 2 capable F-105 conducted the majority of strike bombing missions during the early years of the Vietnam War; it was the only U.S. aircraft to have been removed from combat due to high loss rates. Originally designed as a single-seat, nuclear-attack aircraft, a two-seat Wild Weasel version was later developed for the specialized Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) role against surface-to-air missile sites. The F-105 was commonly known as the "Thud" by its crews.
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