Quick Facts

F-84F Thunderstreak  

Republic F-84F-35-RE Thunderstreak  

A Brute of a Ground Attack Aircraft

era: jet age

On loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force 

Located outside the Flight Innovation Center, nearest Portage Rd.

If the name Thunderstreak puts you in mind of the P-47 Thunderbolt, you’ve made a wise connection, for Republic Aviation created both of these aircraft. Like the P-47, the F-84F proved to be a brute of an airplane. A Wright J65 engine, installed at an angle, powered this swept wing model. Despite its mighty engine, the aircraft left something to be desired with its takeoff performance. Because of its long take off roll, some say that pilots carried a bag of dirt in the nose gear wheel well to be released as the aircraft neared the end of the runway. Pilots used the dirt release to trick the aircraft into becoming airborne!  

Republic built the F-84F to serve as a ground attack aircraft at a cost of $769,000 each. The prototype took to the sky on June 3, 1950. Deliveries followed in 1954. The fighter/bomber could carry a nuclear weapon under one wing with a large, external fuel tank under the other. Thus, the U.S. Air Force outfitted some F-84Fs with Low-Altitude Bombing Systems to serve as Tactical Air Command aircraft which could deliver nuclear bombs. The Mutual Defense Assistance Program (MDAP) took delivery of over 1,300 of these specially equipped Thunderstreaks. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Jet Demonstration Team briefly used the F-84F and some served temporary duty in the early 1960s Berlin crisis. When the company replaced the Thunderstreak with its F-105 Thunderchief (affectionately known as "The Thud"), the aircraft became known as the "Thud's Mother."  

The Thunderscreech Leads to Thunderous Stomach Distress 
Other iterations include a photo reconnaissance version known as the "Thunderflash" and a promptly abandoned XF-84H model called the "Thunderscreech.” This aircraft mated a turbine engine with a supersonic propeller that produced such a gastrointestinal-impacting sound phenomenon that ground crew became violently ill. The sound led the crew to experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. What’s more, the engine could be heard starting up from 25 miles away. The tips of the propeller were supersonic when the engine was at idle. All of this led some to suggest using the Thunderscreech as a psychological warfare weapon.  

The F-84F Thunderstreak on display at the Air Zoo

Tail number 52-6486, variant F-84F-35-RE greets Air Zoo visitors daily from its position at our main entrance just off Portage Road. The attack aircraft joined the Air Zoo’s aircraft on display in 1979, the same year we opened our doors to the public. Republic built this Thunderstreak at its Farmingdale, New York plant. In 1952, our F-84F went to fly for the U.S. Air Force with assignments at bases in Texas, Florida, Virginia, and Indiana through the mid-1960s. In the early 1970s, this swept-wing fighter could be found at Kalamazoo’s Western Michigan University before coming to the Air Zoo on long-term loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force.