Republic F-105F Thunderchief – 357th TFS, 355th TFW, USAF. Leo Thorsness, MiG-17 Kill, Vietnam, April 19th 1967Add to compare
4 in stock
4 in stock
Hobby Master 1/72 scale HA2551: Republic F-105F Thunderchief serial 63-8301, 357th TFS, 355th TFW, USAF, As flown by Leo Thorsness, MiG-17 kill, Vietnam, April 19th 1967.
Length 11.25 inches Wingspan 5.75 inches
On April 19, 1967 Major Thorsness and Captain Johnson flew their F-105F Thunderchief 63-8301 along with their wingmen on a mission to destroy surface-to-air missile sites. They destroyed their first objective and attacking the second SAM the wingman was hit by ground fire and the crew bailed out. 63-8301 circled the parachutes to be able to give SAR their location. They spotted a MiG-17 and destroyed it. Low on fuel Thorsness began to leave but returned to take on four MiG-17s, destroying one while the other three fled.
A description of the air battle follows:
The first MiG kill of the day was recorded by Maj. Leo K. Thorsness, pilot, and Capt. Harold E. Johnson, Electronic Warfare officer (EWO), flying an F-105F. Thorsness’ flight consisted of four F-105F Wild Weasel aircraft, each plane being manned by a pilot and EWO and being specially equipped to locate and attack SAM sites. The flight was ahead of the main strike force and was committed to suppress SAM activity in the target area. About 8 to 10 MiG-17s attacked as the flight prepared to strike a SAM radar site with Shrike air-to-ground missiles. The Thorsness flight split up into three parts: the third and fourth aircraft entered into separate MiG engagements while Thorsness and his wingman continued the attack against the radar. The time was then about 4:55 p.m. Johnson provides an account of the encounter:
We found and delivered our ordnance on an occupied SAM site. As we pulled off the site heading west, Kingfish 02 called that he had an overheat light. He also headed west, and the crew, Majors Thomas M. Madison, pilot, and Thomas J. Sterling, EWO, had to eject from their aircraft. We headed toward them by following the UHF-DF steer we received from their electronic beepers and saw them in the chutes. . .
As we circled the descending crew, we were on a southerly heading when I spotted a MiG-17 heading east, low at out 9 o’clock position. I called him to the attention of Major Thorsness. . . .
Thorsness continued the story:
The MiG was heading east and was approximately 2,500 feet mean sea level. We were heading southeast and at 8,000 feet MSL. I began “S” turning to get behind the MiG. After one and a half “S” turns the MiG had progressed from the foothills over the delta southwest of Hanoi. The MiG turned to a northerly heading, maintaining approximately the same altitude and airspeed. Captain Johnson continued to give me SAM bearings, SAM-PRF [pulse recurrence frequency] status and launch indications as I continued to maneuver to attain a 6 o’clock position on the MiG.
The first burst of approximately 300 rounds of 20 mm was fired from an estimated 2,000–1,500 feet in a right hand shallow pursuit curve, firing with a cased sight reticle. No impacts were observed on the MiG. Within a few seconds we were in the 6 o’clock position with approximately 75 to 100 knots overtake speed. I fired another burst of approximately 300 rounds of 20 mm. I pulled up to avoid both the debris and the MiG. While pulling up I rolled slightly to the right, then left. The MiG was approximately 100 feet low and to our left, rolling to the right. The two red stars were clearly discernible, one on top of each wing, and several rips were noted on the battered left wing. We continued to turn to the left and after turning approximately 130° again sighted the MiG, still in a right descending spiral. Just prior to the MiG’s impacting the ground, Captain Johnson sighted a MiG-17 at our 6:30 position approximately 2,000 feet back. I pulled into a tighter left turn, selected afterburner, and lowered the nose. I again looked at the crippled MiG, saw it impact the ground in what appeared to be a rice field. After confirming the MiG had in fact impacted the ground I made a hard reversal and descended very near the ground, heading generally westerly into the foothills.
Thorsness then left the battle area, but returned after refueling to provide rescue combat air patrol during the search for his wingman’s aircrew. Thorsness and Johnson attacked another MiG and scored some damaging hits before they were themselves attacked by other MiG-17s. Although it is highly probable that Thorsness and Johnson destroyed a second MiG, this kill was not confirmed.
Eleven days later, 30 April 1967, Major Thorsness and Captain Johnson were shot down by an AA-2A Atoll heat-seeking missile fired by a MiG-21 fighter of 921st Fighter Regiment, Vietnam People’s Air Force. They ejected but were captured. Both men were held as Prisoners of War until 4 March 1973.
Designed as a replacement for the F-84F Thuderstreak, the F-105 first flew on October 2, 1955. This Mach-2 capable aircraft was used for strike bombing during the Vietnam War. It was armed with a cannon and missiles and was also designed to carry a nuclear weapon. The single-seat F-105 was the largest single-engine fighter ever to serve with the USAF, and could deliver a greater bomb load than any of the 10-man strategic bombers that served during WWII. Despite these impressive statistics, the F-105 was also the only US aircraft in history to be removed from combat because of high rates of attrition.
Major Thorsness and Captain Johnson flew this Republic F-105F-1-RE Thunderchief, 63-8301, on 19 April 1967. It was one of 61 F-105Fs that were upgraded to the F-105G Wild Weasel III configuration beginning in late 1967. It survived the Vietnam War, but was destroyed 20 December 1974 when, assigned to the 35th TFW at George AFB, California, it crashed at the Cuddeback Lake Gunnery Range after an engine failure. (U.S. Air Force)