For the first seven years of the F-105’s development and service, its pilots learned to fly the fighter in single-seat versions – the YF-105A, F-105B and F-105D. By 1963 the increasing complexity, weight and cost of these strike variants meant that it had become too hazardous to allow pilots to train wholly on single-seaters. USAF Air Training Command had requested a two-seat F-105B (designated the F-105C) in 1956, but this was cancelled in favor of the F-105E — a two-seat F-105D variant — the following year. The E-model was also cancelled in 1959 as a cost-cutting measure, but in June 1962 an order for 36 F-105Fs was approved, with another 107 planned for Fiscal Year 1963. The latter were financed by cancelling the last 143 F-105D-31-REs.

F-105Fs were intended to fly the same tactical nuclear strike missions as the F-105Ds. This role dated back to 1952 when Republic’s Chief Engineer, Alexander Kartveli, adapted his RF-84F Thunderstreak design to carry a small tactical nuclear weapon internally. Evolving slowly via YF-105A prototypes into the F-105B, the type eventually entered Tactical Air Command (TAC) service in 1959. Its massive J75 engine could drive it at 750 knots at ground-hugging altitude with a Mk 28 “nuke” aboard, or almost 1,200 knots at 36,000ft. The 45-degree swept wing spanned only 34.9ft (two feet less than a Spitfire from World War II) against a fuselage length of 63.1ft (similar to that of a C-47 Skytrain). With only 385 sq. ft of wing area to support 10 a 47,000lb take-off weight, the F-105B had limited maneuverability, but offered great

stability in its primary strike role. Evading enemy radar via terrain masking, it could outdistance any other fighter at low altitude.

The F-105D proposal in 1957 sought to give all-weather capability, particularly in the European Cold War scenario. A 15-inch fuselage extension allowed a 2,000lb increase in combat weight through the addition of an AN/ASG-19 fire control system,

FC-5 flight control system (FCS) and R-14A radar that was optimized for ground mapping. The jet’s limited all-weather capability came from the FCS, which permitted both visual and “blind” delivery of conventional and nuclear ordnance. The FCS’s terrain guidance mode also enabled the pilot to perform low-altitude navigation in poor visibility. In the cockpit, new vertical tape displays provided basic flight information at a glance. Externally, an arresting hook was added.

In an effort to offset the weight gain associated with these improvements, the aircraft was fitted with a Pratt & Whitney J75-P-19 engine whose water-injection gave it a short-term 2,000lb thrust increase for take-off at increased weight. The M61A1 20mm rotary cannon installed in the F-105B’s nose was moved back to accommodate the larger radar, the weapon drawing ammunition from a drum rather than via belts from a box as with the F-105B.

The first F-105D flew on June 9, 1959, and the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW), which was selected to introduce the aircraft into frontline service, was in business by late 1962. D-models eventually equipped 12 tactical fighter wings before going on to serve with Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units until 1984.

In order to preserve the range and combat capability of the F-105D, Republic elected to extend its fuselage by 31 inches for the F-105F through the fitment of a “plug” ahead of the air intake line. The two cockpits were given separate canopies and the electronics compartments were moved behind the rear cockpit. The rear fuselage was strengthened and a new vertical stabilizer some five inches taller and 15 per cent larger in area was also added. These changes, together with beefier landing gear components, added 3,000lbs to the overall weight. Nevertheless, the F-105F could fly the same strike missions as the D-model jet, with the front-seat pilot performing most of the mission-related tasks.

Interest in the F-105F as an anti-SAM electronic countermeasures platform began in August 1965 after several US aircraft had been destroyed by SA-2s. However, the scarcity of F-105Fs meant that the more plentiful, though slower, two-seat F-100F was chosen to flight-test equipment for detecting and suppressing SAM sites. In record time, Applied Technologies, Incorporated (ATI) adapted existing ECM devices and produced the Vector IV RHAW set (based on its System 12 for the U-2), the IR-133 panoramic S-band receiver to locate emissions from the SA-2’s “Fan Song” guidance radar, and the WR-300 receiver that warned of the imminent launch of an SA-2.

Combat-tested in four F-100Fs, this equipment set, codenamed Wild Weasel I, enabled a flight of F-105Ds led by a Weasel Super Sabre to destroy a SAM site only five months after the first SA-2 shoot-down of a USAF fighter. However, the IR-133 was susceptible to jamming by USAF EB-66 aircraft operating in the same area and unable to home onto a “Fan Song” while the F-100F was maneuvering energetically. The

equipment did not indicate whether the aircraft was being tracked by a SAM either. 11

As part of their dominant role in the air war over North Vietnam, F-105D and F-105F Thunderchiefs attacked SA-2 sites as soon as permission was granted to do so. In this typical 1970 scene at Takhli RTAFB, Lt Col Jack Spillers, commanding the 355th TFW’s 357th TFS, begins a take-off roll in the relatively spacious single cockpit of F-105D 62-4229, named after his wife. Note that the Mk 83 1,000lb high explosive bombs attached to the jet’s center pylon have been fitted with fuze extenders. (Mrs J.

image12Spillers via Norman Taylor)

Подпись:Republic Aviation had already tested an AN/APS-107 RHAW in an F-105D but rejected it in September 1965 in favor of the Vector IV as an urgent means of reducing the escalating attrition amongst Thunderchief units over North Vietnam. ATI and the Sacramento Air Material Area (SMAMA) successfully completed an installation in F-105D 62-4291 within five days, and a second aircraft was ready on 27 October 1965. This F-105D (61-0138) was fitted with a Bendix DPN-61 homing receiver, a fin-cap radar-warning receiver (RWR) and a SAM threat warning CRT display as the




F-105G-1-RE 63-8336 PATIENCE of the 17th WWS/ 388th TFW in February 1973. This aircraft entered service as an F-105F with the 23 rd TFW in September 1964, and in March 1968 the jet went to war as a single-seat Combat Martin jammer aircraft with the 388th TFW at Korat RTAFB, although it actually flew most of its missions in a strike or Iron Hand role. Transferred to the 355th TFW in May 1969, 63-8336 then served with the 18th TFW at Kadena AB, prior to being flown back to the USA and placed in storage under 23 rd TFW management at McConnell AFB. Converted to F-105G configuration in 1972, the aircraft returned to the war torn skies of North Vietnam with the 17th WWS for Operation Linebacker I. The Thunderchief continued to fly Wild Weasel missions from Korat RTAFB until October 1974, when it was transferred to the 35th TFW and thence to ANG units and final storage at Davis-Monthan AFB in April 1982, with more than 4,000 flying hours on

first attempt to equip the jet for the SEAD role under project Wild Weasel II. This included F-105F 62-4421 using the AN/APS-107, the US Navy’s AN/ALQ-51 and external QRC-160-1 jamming pods.

The project was quickly replaced by Wild Weasel III, which focused solely on the F-105F with the AN/APR-25 (Vector IV), AN/APR-26 (WR-300, conceived by ATI’s Bill Doyle) and IR-133 — basically the Wild Weasel I suite. It was initiated on January 8, 1966 by Brig Gen Kenneth C. Dempster, who headed the USAF Anti-SAM Task Force from August 13, 1965. His brief from the outset had been to develop effective systems for tactical aircraft that allowed them to protect themselves from radar-directed weapons. A primary objective was the evolution and speedy deployment of fast hunter- killer teams to locate SA-2 sites using WildWeasel detection aircraft and destroy them with Iron HandF-105Ds equipped with 2.75-inch rockets, bombs and 20mm cannon. Republic and SMAMA had quickly modified the prototype F-105F (62-4416) to serve as the Wild Weasel III test-bed by February 3, 1966, and work began on six more F-105Fs while the prototype started a hasty test program at Eglin AFB.

The speed of the latter caused numerous quality control and technical problems with the installations, particularly the AN/APR-25, which failed to equal its performance in the F-100F because of inadequate co-axial cabling. With an imminent deployment to Korat RTAFB looming for five of the Thunderchiefs, all seven aircraft were re-worked and re-tested repeatedly, while six more F-105Fs were re-fitted in May 1966. An additional system was installed to help pilots locate SAM sites, particularly when they were well camouflaged. This ATL AE-100 system used a pattern of small antennas around the F-105F’s nose to receive azimuth and elevation information on an emitting “Fan Song” and display it so that a pilot could establish the direction of the threat radar. Delays in installing this gear, and in testing the rival AEL Pointer III system and the QRC-317 SEE-SAMS threat detection and evaluation system, meant that the five WildWeasel III-1 aircraft could not fly to Korat until May 28, 1966.

Although SEE-SAMS was initially rejected, development continued by North American Aviation and an improved SEE-SAMS B variant was evaluated in the Korat aircraft. In a period of experimentation with evolving ECM technology and tactics, together with the frequent development of relevant new products by the US defense industry, the WildWeasel F-105s received constant modification so that each aircraft soon had minor differences from the rest.

At Korat and Takhli RTAFBs the Weasels expanded the tactics pioneered by Wild Weasel IF-100F crews, although they initially continued to use the F-105F as a pathfinder/flight leader for three F-105D bombers on Iron Hand hunter-killer operations. With the adoption of the US Navy’s AGM-45 Shrike ARM from March 1966, however, the F-105F could now also make stand-off attacks on “Fan Song” radars rather than merely marking them with 2.75-inch rockets for F-105D bombers.

The employment of the Shrike also changed the role of Weasel crews during 1966-67, for missile-equipped F-105s could now suppress SAM batteries simply through their mere presence, forcing a “Fan Song” team to shut down rather than attract a radar-homing missile. It was no longer necessary to risk life and limb 14 physically knocking out an SA-2 site with bombs and/or rocket projectiles.


Another batch of 18 F-105Fs was pulled out of the training program from July 1966, these jets being fitted with ER-142 receivers operating in the E-G frequency bands in place of the IR-133 — the new receiver displayed its information on two panoramic cockpit scopes. The ER-142 was in turn superseded by the ER-168 (AN/APR-35), installed with the AN/ALT-34 jamming system. An improved SEE – SAMS set (eventually re-designated AN/ALR-31) boasting additional wing-tip antennas was installed in a number of F-105Fs in 1968.

Various built-in jamming systems, including the US Navy’s AN/ALQ-51 deception jammer, were tested to provide anti-SAM protection. All F-105s operating over North Vietnam were required to carry jamming protection, but pylon-mounted QRC-160- 1/8 pods used up a weapons station and could interfere with the Wild Weasel equipment. The solution to this problem came in the form of “split” AN/ALQ-101 pods, attached to either side of the lower central fuselage, housing QRC-288 (later QRC-335) jammer components. As the AN/ALQ-105, this system equipped the ultimate Thunderchief Wild Weasel, the F-105G.

Подпись:Подпись: 15The jet’s most important enhancement was the provision of AGM-78A Mod 0 Standard ARM capability. This weapon — another US Navy initiative — had a warhead three times larger than the Shrike’s and a range three times greater than its 12-mile radius. The latter meant that aircraft could now fire an ARM from outside the effective range of an SA-2. And while the Shrike had to be launched almost directly at its target, the Standard ARM could be made to turn up to 180 degrees before homing on a

hostile radar. If that radar was turned off (which would cause a Shrike to break lock and fail), the AGM-78 used a memory circuit to log the last known position of the radar signal and continue to head towards it.

Fourteen F-105Fs were modified to carry the AGM-78 from September 1967, and eight of these entered combat fromTakhli in early March 1968. A year later the ECM suite was radically updated to handle the AGM-78A Mod 1 missile and, in due course, the AGM-78B. Retaining only the AN/ALT-34 jammer and AN/ALR-31 (SEE – SAMS), the new installation used an AN/APR-35 panoramic receiver and AN/APR-36/37 sensors in place of the AN/APR-25/26. New missile control panels, a tape recorder and a tracker to feed back information on the missile’s flight in order to estimate its likely success rate were also installed. Deliveries of revised “Mod 1” aircraft began in January 1969, and the jets’ success in combat persuaded the USAF to standardize all surviving F-105F Weasels as Mod 1 airframes, re-designating them F-105Gs. With the addition of 12 new conversions, this placed 61 F-105Gs in the active inventory. They all received the AN/ALQ-105 suite in due course too, although a few F-105Gs entered combat before these external fuselage pods were added.

In this guise the F-105 Wild Weasel fought through the final stages of the Vietnam War in 1971-73, out-performing its intended replacement, the F-4C Phantom II Wild Weasel TV. The latter lacked AGM-78 capability, and from 1966 onwards never reached the standard of electronics systems reliability achieved by the F-105G.


In March 1946 Gen Carl Spaatz, commanding the US Army Air Forces, asserted that “Strategic Air Command will be prepared to conduct long-range offensive operations in any part of the world”. The success of heavy bombers during World War II had demonstrated their devastating power. Post-war, Strategic Air Command (SAC) acquired 2,042 jet-powered B-47 Stratojets and then 744 B-52 Stratofortresses capable of delivering nuclear weapons at 550kts over a 3,000-mile combat radius.

Faced with the formidable task of defending its vast land area against both this threat and high-flying US spyplanes, the Soviet Union urgently promoted a new generation of interceptor fighters, but for the defense of its cities another layer of protection was required that would be more effective than fighters or guns. In 1945 Soviet scientists used captured data from German surface-to-air guided missile projects to design first-generation SAMs, but internal political competition prevented their completion. By 1951 Joseph Stalin had instigated a new project, codenamed Berkut, which surrounded Moscow with SAM batteries and radars connected by ring-roads. The first batteries were declared operational in 1956, using the V-300 (NATO codename SA-1 “Guild”) missile conceived by fighter designer Semyon Lavochkin.

Подпись: 16A second, mobile system was needed for the protection of wider areas of the Soviet Union, and in November 1953 the Almaz design bureau’s Boris Bunkin headed a team that conceived the S-75, with Lavochkin-trained Pyotr Grushin as principal designer.



As the USAF’s first major SEAD aircraft, the F-105F/G enabled its crews to establish operational techniques for counteracting SAMs that were vital during the Vietnam conflict and still remain valid today.

Designed as a strike fighter to fly very fast, low and straight, the F-105 had the speed to duel with SAMs, although it lacked the agility in this role enjoyed by its successors like the F-4G and F-16D Block 50. It was 100mph faster than the F-100F Wild Weasel I (which tested the initial Wild Weasel electronics package operationally), however, thus allowing the F-105F/G to approach targets at low altitude at the same 500+ knots speed as the F-105Ds or F-4 Phantom IIs that accompanied it as bombers. The Thunderchief’s small wing and powerful Pratt & Whitney J75-P-19W engine enabled the aircraft to out-run all Vietnamese Peoples’ Air Force (VPAF) fighters – with the possible exception of the MiG-21MF – at low altitude.

The J75 powerplant was a development of Pratt & Whitney’s very reliable JT-3/J57 turbojet, designed in 1949 and crucial to the success of the first three “Century Series” fighters, the North American F-100, McDonnell F-101 and Convair F-102, as well as Boeing’s B-52, 707 and KC-135, among others. The engine also powered the two YF-105A prototypes. More than 21,000 J57s had been built by 1959 when Pratt & Whitney enlarged it by replacing the first three low-pressure turbine stages with two 24 more powerful fan stages. The new engine was designated the J75. Power with


afterburning increased from 16,000lbs thrust to 26,500lbs with water injection, and fuel economy was also improved, although it still burned JP-4 at almost 1,000lbs per minute at full thrust! The engine was fed by innovative forward-swept, variable-area intakes with moveable “plugs” and bleed-air doors to regulate the air volume at different airspeeds to avoid stalls.

Подпись:In early service with F-105 units the 20ft long engine sustained a series of fires. This problem was solved by providing the jet with additional cooling ducts in the rear fuselage. Although the J75 usually proved to be tough and reliable, in combat, engine

image25Подпись: 25Like many other 1950s fighters, the F-105 had a removable rear fuselage for access to the engine. This had the added advantage that damage to a rear fuselage could be repaired while the aircraft flew missions with a rear section borrowed from another F-105. In this photograph 388th TFW maintainers manhandle a massive J75 engine on an awkward-to-maneuver Model 400A hydraulic support trailer. (Fairchild-Hiller/Republic Aviation)

failures continued to be the second most common cause of F-105 losses next to battle damage. This was partly because the engines were often run at their maximum thrust for long periods, but losses declined after engine modifications in 1968.

The F-105 introduced numerous groundbreaking technological innovations, and like the J75, some of these took several years to get right. Probably the most troublesome element of the aircraft’s avionics was its complex General Electric ASG-19 Thunderstick fire control system. Indeed, its low serviceability rate earned the F-105 a poor reputation amongst USAF maintainers. Thunderstick offered radar search and ranging functions for visual and “blind” bombing, as well as an air-to-air interception mode.

Modification programs for the aircraft, including 29 major updates in 1967 alone, increased survivability. One of these, the pilot recovery system, was a response to the many combat losses caused by the F-105’s highly vulnerable hydraulic system. Designed for missions where small-arms fire was not anticipated, the system had hydraulic lines located along the aircraft’s belly. Combat had quickly revealed that even modest battle damage to a line usually resulted in a rapid loss of control as the fluid drained away and the stabilator moved to an unrecoverable pitch-down position.

From 1967, a cockpit switch activated a lock to secure the stabilator in the neutral position, allowing the pilot a little more time to fly to a safer area using his throttle and flaps to provide limited control. A further system introduced an emergency hydraulic reservoir pressurized by a ram-air turbine to give pilots a chance of safe recovery to base. Lines for this system ran in a new fairing above the rear fuselage.

image26Подпись: Developed from the US Navy's RIM-66 ground-to-air missile, the AGM-78 Standard had a maximum range of more than 60 miles. It was 50 per cent longer, three times heavier and far more costly than Shrike, with a 2191b warhead and Mach 2.5 speed that more closely matched the SA-2's. It could be launched “off axis” without the F-105 having to point directly at the target emitter. This round is being loaded onto F-105G 63-8305, which not only performed numerous AGM-78 test flights, but also saw combat with the 388th TFW's 561st TFS. 26 (USAF)
The aircraft’s normal General Electric FC-5 automatic flight control system gave the option of stability augmentation in manual control or fully automatic mode for toss-bomb delivery and landing approaches.



Two-seat Thunderchiefs retained the M61A1 20mm rotary cannon and five weapons stations of the F-105D. The centerline and inboard pylons were plumbed for fuel, with a 450-gallon or 650-gallon centerline tank and a 450-gallon tank on each inboard pylon. Internal fuel amounted to 1,135 gallons, with a further 390-gallon tank occupying the internal bomb-bay. Typical F-105F/G weapons options included six 500lb Mk 82 low-drag general purpose bombs or five CBU-24/B canisters replacing the centerline tank, one or two AGM-78 Standard ARMs (F-105G only) replacing fuel tanks on the inboard wing pylons and either AGM-45 Shrikes or single cluster bomb units on the outer pylons. If AGM-78s were loaded, they also required special General Dynamics LAU-80 pylons. Each missile, with its pylon, weighed 1,600lbs.

A shortage of ordnance pylon space was a problem for the Weasel mission, particularly when crews were ordered to carry the QRC-160-1 jamming pod on all missions over North Vietnam in early 1967. The pod not only used up a pylon, it also interfered with the Wild Weasel ECM equipment.

The two cockpits, each fitted with a Republic-designed rocket-powered ejection seat, were essentially similar to the F-105D version, with full flight instrumentation and some armament controls repeated in the rear pilot’s “office”. F-105Fs sometimes operated as single-seat bombers to make up F-105D numbers, and ten were modified as single-seat Combat Martin aircraft with an AN/ALQ-59 communications jamming system replacing the rear seat. Their purpose was to jam VPAF MiGs’ ground control intercept (GCI) signals, although they seldom if ever performed this role in combat. All of these aircraft were later re-fitted as F-105Gs.

Changes to the Wild Weasel ECM packages in the F-105F and early F-105G airframes throughout 1966—68 resulted in the rear cockpits being frequently modified. The standard F-model engine and flying control panels were increasingly replaced by

F-105 GUN

The General Electric T171 cannon fitted in the nose of the F-105 revived a late 19th century design which added an electric motor to a “Gatling” rotary, multi-barrel gun. It entered production as the M61A1 in 1957, and its compactness, light weight and firing rate of up to 6,000 rounds per minute made it ideal for the F-104 Starfighter, F-105 Thunderchief and later fighters. In the F-105D, F and G, its 1,028 rounds of linkless 20 mm ammunition (allowing about ten seconds of firing) were stored in a drum that also collected empty shell cases. The hydraulically-powered gun weighed 275lbs – little more than half the weight of a full ammunition load.


Up to four Texas Instruments AGM-45 Shrikes could be carried by the F-105, although the usual load was two.

The ten-foot long, 390lb AGM-45A/B – the world’s first dedicated anti-radiation missile – was produced in 21 sub-variants, distinguished mainly by minor changes in their guidance sections and seeker heads. Its 147lb warhead and 18-mile effective range were limiting factors. Nevertheless, more than 18,500 were produced between 1963 and 1982. The appreciably larger General Dynamics AGM-78 Standard ARM was manufactured for the US Navy and USAF from 1967 through to 1978, the 15ft-long weapon boasting a 215lb warhead. A shortage of AGM-78s and the F-105’s high fuel consumption when carrying the bulky weapon resulted in typical ordnance loads of a single Standard and two Shrikes per jet, with a 450-gallon fuel tank “balancing” the AGM-78 on the opposite wing pylon. Although more effective than the Shrike, the Standard’s overall success rate was still only around the 20 per cent mark.

image29Between April 1 and September 30, 1972, F-105Gs launched 230 AGM-78s, although there was a failure rate of more than 25 per cent in the first two months that led to a temporary “grounding” of the missile. Rocket motors were also sometimes cracked in transit, causing premature detonation – motors were x-rayed on delivery thereafter. The smaller AGM-45 proved to be quite difficult to discard in an emergency, as it lacked an explosive jettison system for either the missile or its pylon. (USAF)

displays and controls for the AN/APR-35, AN/APR-36 and AN/ALR-31, while the introduction of the AGM-78 missile required the installation of another control panel and 14-channel tape recorder. Key components were the IR-133 display that provided indications of “Fan Song” activity.

The AN/APR-25/26 sensors “read” the SA-2’s signals, enabling the pilot to home onto “Fan Song” emissions. The system’s cockpit display included a yellow “launch” light to show that an SA-2 was headed towards the F-105. Within the correct range and with the aircraft pointed at the threat emitter, an AGM-45 Shrike could pick up

image30Подпись: 29The standard bomb-load for F-105D/Fs throughout much of the war was six or eight 750lb M117 bombs, although CBU or “slick” Mk 82 bombs were often more effective against SAM sites. This 469th TFS/ 388th TFW flight is bombing “straight and level” above clouds early in 1967 – one of the most likely ways to attract a SAM that allowed insufficient time for the F-105s to avoid it. 62-4325 crashed near Korat when the flight control system failed during a test flight on March 14, 1967. (Lt Col Jack Spillers via Norman Taylor)

the radar signal, lock onto it with its own seeker and home onto the target when launched. With the definitive F-105G and its QRC-380 and AN/ALQ-105 jamming systems, a further panel was added. Both cockpits had similar control columns, but ordnance delivery was usually the responsibility of the front seat occupant, leaving the rear seat “Bear” to monitor the various ECM displays and keep the pilot informed on threats from radars, missiles or MiGs.


F-105G Thunderchief Wild Weasel Specification


Pratt & Whitney J75-P-19W rated at 24,500lb st (afterburner only)

34ft 9in.

67 ft 0in.

20ft 5in.

385 sq ft



1,390mph at 36,000ft

391 miles in combat configuration

43,900ft at combat weight

28 minutes to 30,000ft at combat weight, maximum military power (this compares with a time of 11.6 minutes for a bombed-up F-105B!)

One M61A1 20mm cannon

Two AGM-78 Standard anti-radiation missiles




Wingspan Length Height Wing area Weight Empty Loaded


Max speed Range

Service ceiling Time-to-climb





Designated the V-750 (sometimes V-75) Dvina in the Soviet Union, the missile is better known in the West as the S-75 or by its NATO name, SA-2 “Guideline” Mod 0. Evolved from the 1944 German Wasserfall missile concept, the weapon was designed to protect the strategic and population centers of Russia, but it soon became the primary and longest-serving air defense missile offered to the Soviet Union’s allies too. Several variants were developed, including the short-lived experimental V-753 that was to be fired from an eight-round magazine aboard Sverdlov Class cruisers. Developed quickly in the mid-1950s, the missile was designed to intercept targets at medium to high altitude. Its performance against aircraft below 3,000ft was poor.

The two-stage SA-2 had a Kartukov PRD-18 booster section with 14 tubes of NMF-2 solid chemical propellant (more in later versions) and large fins to impart




stable flight on launch. This burned for four to five seconds and then fell away, leaving the Isayev S2.711 sustainer motor to maintain flight at Mach 3. The latter burned hypergolic liquid propellant comprising TG-02 (50 per cent isomeric xylidine, 48.5 per cent triethylamine and 1.5 per cent diethylamine), with AK-20 fuming nitric acid as the oxidizer. This specification was derived from the Wasserfall.

A turbo-pump was required to supply the motor with OT-155 Isonite (isopropyl nitrate) liquid fuel sufficient for a 22-second engine burn. The later Item 20D Volkhov development of the S-75 used a different fuel comprising 56 per cent kerosene and 40 per cent Trikresol, with a TG-02 “starter fuel” supply to ignite the mixture. This was much safer to handle and store than the volatile mix used in the Dvina or Desna (“Guideline Mod 1”) models. For the North Vietnamese, a shortage of technicians qualified to perform these tasks meant that fewer than 40 missiles could be assembled and filled with fuel, oxidizer and compressed air daily.


Подпись: The rocket exhaust deflector at the rear of the SM-63-1 launcher reduced ground erosion when a SAM's booster motor was ignited. Stabilizing outrigger “arms” on the main unit folded for transportation. When SA-2s first appeared in North Vietnam in 1965, Assistant Secretary of Defense John T. McNaughton told Gens William Westmoreland and Joseph Moore, who were in charge of the US war effort and wanted to attack the sites, “You don't think the North Vietnamese are going to use them? Putting them there is just a political ploy by the Russians to appease Hanoi”. (via Dr Istvan Toperczer) Подпись: 31

The majority of the system’s low-cost electronic elements were housed in its ground – based support vehicles. Within the missile’s 35.1ft body was the 5E11 Schmel or 5E29 radio proximity fuze, using either “strip” antennas on the external skin or a dielectric radome. Theoretically, the missile was accurate to within about 210ft, and the proximity fuze would be armed and programmed within that range via two waveforms within the command uplink channel. Alternatively, there was a simple impact fuze and a command fuze that could be used to detonate the warhead from the ground. The warhead itself was comparatively large to increase the chance of a kill from a “near miss” position. In its V-88 version the warhead weighed 420lbs and contained 8,000 metal fragments that would be ejected at a rate of 7,000ft per minute over a lethal diameter that could vary between 200ft at lower altitude and 800ft above 35,000ft.


Подпись:A hit by only a handful of these on an F-105’s hydraulic or fuel systems could cripple the aircraft.

The guidance system relied on three components — a command link receiver, an autopilot and a radar beacon at the rear of the missile to provide a tracking signal to the “Fan Song” guidance radar. The command link receiver operated with four pulse – modulated waveforms. Two of them supplied climb or dive and left/right turn commands to the missile’s powered steering fins after the booster was ejected. The other two provided programming and arming signals to the radio proximity fuze.

Missiles were transported on purpose-built, two-wheeled “transloader” semi-trailers pulled by a ZIL-157 tractor unit. An SA-2 could be transferred from the transport rail on the trailer to its SM-63-1 launcher by five men without additional lifting equipment. The launch rail of the SM-63-1 was lowered to the horizontal position and the missile on its transport rail was swung out at 90 degrees to the trailer. When the two rails were positioned end-on to each other the 5,042lbs SA-2 was simply slid backwards from one to the other by basic manpower and the relevant electrical connections were made, all within 10—15 minutes.

The SM-63-1 launch rail could be elevated up to 80 degrees and rotated through 360 degrees on a turntable — both the launch rail and the turntable were powered by electric motors housed in the launcher’s base unit. The “transloader” could be fitted with four wheels for quick transfer to another site. In launch position the rail rested on a foldable cruciform base with a movable blast deflector that would be lowered just before firing to reduce ground erosion from the exhaust.









7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15



1. Radio proximity fuze transmit antenna

2. FR-15 Shmel radio proximity fuze

3. V-88 high-explosive fragmentation warhead

4. Radio proximity fuze receive antenna

5. AK-20F oxidizer melange tank

6. TG-02 propellant tank

13. OT-155 Isonate turbopump gas-generator propellant tank

14. Isayev S2.711V rocket engine

15. Adapter fairing

16. PRD-18 boost powerplant with 14 tubes of NMF-2 propellant

The launch process began with early warning of an incoming raid from high – powered, low-frequency radars such as the massive A-band P-14 “Tall King”. An SA-2 battalion’s own search radar was the P-12 Yenisei (“Spoon Rest”), although the P-15 (“Flat Face”) search and track set and PRV-11 (“Side Net”) height-finding radar were also available.

Development of the VHF P-12 was commenced in 1954 by the SKB Bureau and culminated in the P-12NP in the 1970s. It could be retuned quickly to four pre-set frequencies and detect targets at 100—150 miles using 12 Yagi antenna elements that displayed their information on two scopes — an “E-scope”, showing the target’s height, and a plan position indicator.

Resistance to jamming and interference was steadily improved throughout the 1960s. “Spoon Rest-A” used two adjacent ZIL trucks, with the antenna array mounted on one and the radar indicators in another. Later versions such as the P-12NP separated the antenna into a remote trailer that could be located at a safe distance of up to 1,600ft from the operating unit. ARMs then homed on the antenna rather than the radar cabin.

Having acquired a target, “Spoon Rest” passed its range, bearing and altitude data to the RSN-75 “Fan Song” radar vans via land lines. Four vehicles were required for most versions. The radar antennas were mounted on the “PV” van, which also housed the transmitters. The battery commander and up to five operators with their command consoles were housed in the “UV” van. An “AV” cabin contained other tracking and transmitter equipment, while electrical power was generated by diesel motors in the “RV” van.

“Fan Song” had two functions — target acquisition of up to six targets and missile guidance of up to three SA-2s against a single target. Its operators refined the battalion “Spoon Rest’s” data to establish the exact position and flightpath of the target aircraft,

as well as calculating an impact point ahead of the target or as close as possible to it. 33

Members of a missile regiment run to their operational positions past spare rounds that are ready on their trans­loaders for each launcher. Assembling and fueling an SA-2 took several hours’ work, personnel having to handle hazardous substances in urban warehouse depots that were eventually targeted in the latter stages of Linebacker II. Camouflaging the missiles (as seen here) caused them to absorb heat, which could in turn damage the weapons’ internal electronics.

image34"(Author’s collection)

After launching, they then tracked both the target and the missiles’ transponder beacons — three SA-2s could be launched at a single target at six-second intervals. In automatic mode the radar computer calculated course corrections once the missile had been “captured” in the “Fan Song’s” narrow guidance beam and its spent booster had dropped away. This capture had to happen within about six seconds of launching otherwise the missile went ballistic and self-detonated after 60 seconds.

Подпись: 34 Подпись: Almaz SA-2/S-75M “Guideline” Specifications Dimensions Length 35.1ft Diameter (widest) 2.1ft Span (widest fins) 8.2ft Weight 5,040lbs Engine thrust (sustainer motor) 6,834lbs Booster rocket thrust up to 110,000lbs Performance Max speed Mach 3 Max/min lethal range 18 miles/5 miles Max/min lethal altitude 85,000ft/1,500ft

Detonation near a target via the proximity fuze was indicated by a light on the “Fan Song” consoles. The narrow radar beam (only 7.5 degrees wide and 1.5 degrees in the scanning direction even in the upgraded “Fan Song E”) also limited the extent of maneuvering commands via the radio uplink in case the missile strayed beyond the bounds of the “Fan Song’s” guidance emissions. This gave US pilots their best chance of evading a missile, if they saw it in time. However, the computer could rapidly generate and transmit new steering commands if the target turned to a new course. To counteract jamming or the threat of anti-radiation missiles, the SA-2 crew could resort to manual modes without using the “Fan Song’s” guidance. Although this increased the missile’s reaction time for maneuvering, it required considerable skill to be effective.



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In 1964, with American involvement in Vietnam escalating into direct rather than covert military intervention, the USAF’s primary doctrine of strategic bombing remained much the same as it had been in 1945. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s request for plans to attack North Vietnam produced an air force list of 94 targets for strategic bombing attacks that would have quickly removed that country’s limited industrial, transportation and military structures had they all been attacked. It was assumed that this in turn would negate the North Vietnamese desire to take control of South Vietnam and neighboring countries.

Originally, the attacks were to have been delivered by the B-52s of SAC, which, under Gen Curtis E. LeMay, had sustained the concept of massive atomic retaliation as the USAF’s raison d’etre. The strike fighters ofTAC (led by Gen Otto Weyland) had also assumed a nuclear role since the mid-1950s.

Подпись: 36Подпись: Wild Weasels served with the 355th TFW at Takhli RTAFB, in Thailand, from mid-1966, although its F-105s moved to Korat RTAFB in September 1970. Here, they joined other Thunderchiefs that had flown from Korat with the 388th TFW since April 1967.
The politicians insisted on very limited, conventional warfare responses instead, so B-52s were held back from North Vietnam for seven years. The attack task instead fell to strike fighters such as the F-100 Super Sabre and F-105 Thunderchief, which were generally unsuited and unprepared for World War Il-style “iron bomb” raids. As Gen John Vogt (deputy commander for air operations, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam) commented in 1972, “The USAF did not have an all-weather bombing


capability. This was a nemesis in the Rolling Thunder campaign”. During the monsoon season, from November to March, “the enemy had almost a sanctuary”. Nevertheless, from February 24, 1965 to October 31, 1968, the USAF flew more than a million sorties and dropped 750,000 tons of bombs in its longest-ever bombing campaign, Operation Rolling Thunder.


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Rather than intervening directly, as many feared they would, the Soviet Union and China agreed to North Vietnamese Premier Pham Van Dong’s 1964 requests for MiG fighters, SAMs and anti-aircraft artillery, together with the radar and technical expertise to operate them. In March 1965 the Pentagon anticipated the imminent delivery of SA-2s as a response to Rolling Thunder attacks and the possibility of B-52 strikes — the missile had of course been designed specifically to oppose the latter. By mid-1966 North Vietnam had a full, Soviet-style, integrated air defense system centered on Hanoi, which soon boasted the most heavily defended airspace in the history of aerial warfare.


New Yorkers Majs John Revak and Stan Goldstein reckoned they were among the last Wild Weasel crews during the Rolling Thunder period to complete 100 missions. Seen here with CBU-armed F-105F Dragon III, their assigned aircraft in 1968 was actually

62- image394424 Crown 7 of the 44th TFS. Revak and Goldstein flew their 100th mission – an Iron Hand for a RESCAP operation over North Vietnam – in

63- Подпись: An SA-2 explosion hangs in the air behind a speeding F-105, which appears to have sustained damage from the proximity-fuzed missile. The introduction of QRC-160 ECM pods cut the losses to SA-2s and radar-directed AAA dramatically. Carrying pods limited F-105 four-ship flights to 15 degrees of bank and around 2,000ft spacing between element members, however. Although this protected Thunderchiefs against SA-2s, the rigid formations made them tempting targets for MiGs. “Fan Song” operators would hope to engage aircraft that had been separated from the pod formation, or during their individual dive attacks on the target. Fortunately for the USAF the North Vietnamese were not given the SA-2E version of the “Guideline”, which was far more resistant 38 to pod jamming. (USAF)

Подпись: And there was no shortage of personnel to man the missile sites and AAA batteries, as around 100,000 men reached military service age annually. At its peak during the 1972 Linebacker raids, the SA-2 element of the North Vietnamese integrated air defense system numbered 36 missile battalions and nine technical battalions split between nine Air Defense Missile Regiments. American pilots faced both 85mm and 100mm heavy AAA at altitudes up to 39,000ft, 37 mm and 57mm guns at medium altitude and almost “wall-to-wall” 23mm and small-arms fire below 5,000ft (where most losses to AAA occurred). More than half of the 2,300 heavier caliber AAA weapons were located within 30 miles of central Hanoi. Many were radar-directed and could be moved fast to guard almost any potential target.

8306 Bad SAM. Assigned to Majs Dornberger and Carver at the time, this aircraft later participated in the Son Tay rescue mission. (USAF)

Ironically, far more US tactical aircraft were shot down by AAA guns protecting SAM sites than by the missiles themselves, small-caliber AAA accounting for around 85 per cent of the US aircraft losses during Rolling Thunder. However, the threat of SAM hits at altitudes above 1,500ft forced aircraft to enter the lethal range of most AAA, while the need to evade an oncoming SAM usually forced a pilot to jettison his ordnance load, effectively aborting his mission.

Despite the Cuban experience, the USAF was comparatively ill-prepared in 1965 to tackle SAM and radar-directed AAA threats, and it did not expect to face them over North Vietnam. The basic technology was well understood, thanks in part to a copy of the SA-2 manual obtained through the spy Oleg Penkovsky in 1960 and via electronic intelligence of SA-2s in Cuba. Development work had begun on the QRC-160 jamming pod for tactical aircraft to carry externally, the EB/RB-66 detection/jamming aircraft and SAM launch-warning devices, the first of which were installed in Trojan Horse U-2s overflying Hanoi in 1965. However, many in Washington, DC and the Pentagon assumed that the threat of US air power would be enough to deter Vietnamese insurgency. Indeed, the appearance of SAM sites did not at first convince President Johnson’s civilian advisors, including Robert McNamara, that the Russians would actually allow them to be used against US aircraft. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the other hand, unanimously advocated immediate destruction of the first sites.

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Подпись: An impressive pre-deployment line-up photograph of 2061st Missile Regiment SA-2s on their trans-loaders near Hanoi. This unit claimed the destruction of F-4E 68-0314 from the 308th TFS/31stTFW on June 27, 1972 as it flew a straight-and-level chaff bombing mission near Gia Lam airport in Hanoi. (via Dr Istvan Toperczer)

In fact, the SA-2 represented the most important advance in the establishment of a comprehensive North Vietnamese air defense system, a process that had begun in October 1963 with the merger of the VPAF with radar and AAA batteries under the overall command of Col Gen Phung The Tai. When US air attacks began, Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin visited Hanoi, and thereafter Pham Van Dong proved adept at making the Russians and Chinese vie with each other in supplying modern air

Подпись:defense equipment, in particular SAMs and MiG-21s from the USSR and MiG-17 and MiG-19 copies made by Shenyang in China, totaling 65 fighters by August 1966.

The appearance of SAM sites prompted demands from the Joint Chiefs of Staff for decisive retaliation against them, including a B-52 night attack and the bombing of MiG airfields. Opinion was divided over whether the Soviet Union and China would respond in kind to this action. On one hand the State Department believed that Chinese fighters might even intercept US jets over Hanoi, while the CIA felt that there would be no risk of this kind of intervention. President Johnson delayed, fearing casualties to Russian and Chinese advisors at the sites, but accepted foreign policy advisor William Bundy’s proposal that they should be bombed “if they are used to inflict significant losses on us”.

The North Vietnamese relied heavily on Soviet personnel providing them with technical expertise for the operation of their missile batteries. Almost 17,000 of them worked at SAM sites and other defense installations from April 1965 onwards, and four were killed in action.

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Initially, North Vietnamese SAM crews were trained in the Soviet Union, and subsequently at ten centers in Vietnam, but the first operational SA-2s were manned by PVO-Strany personnel from Russia commanded by Gen G. A. Belov and Col G. Lubinitsky. Col Tsyganov had the first operational regiment, the 236th, in place near Hanoi by July 1965, and three other regiments, manned largely by Russians, were in service by the end of 1966. Each regiment commanded four launch batteries, with six launchers per battery. When Lubinitsky’s site fired on an F-105 escort flight of four “Leopard” F-4C Phantom Ils from the 47 th TFS on July 24, 1965, one was destroyed. Capt Roscoe Fobair was killed and Capt Richard “Pop” Keirn, a former Eighth Air Force B-17 pilot and World War II PoW, entered captivity once again. SAM warnings from a nearby RB-66 had not been received by the crew in time to take evasive action. Two other aircraft were downed by the same site later that month.


This loss resolved the Johnson administration’s doubts about Soviet policy in deploying the missiles, and it also prompted urgent redress to protect American aircrews. With 16 squadrons of tactical fighters, five tactical reconnaissance units and 21 EB/RB-66 electronic warfare aircraft scheduled to deploy to Southeast Asia by the end of 1966, the potential losses to SAMs could easily be foreseen. This was particularly true of the two F-105D/F Thunderchief tactical fighter wings based at Takhli and Korat RTAFBs in Thailand, which were responsible for the majority of the Rolling Thunder bombing missions over North Vietnam.

A solution for their self-protection was soon available through Project Problem Child at Eglin AFB, where Lt Col Ingwald Haugen devised a four-ship “pod formation” for tactical aircraft. In October 1965 tests, each F-105 carried a pair of General Electric QRC-160-1 D/E band jamming pods tuned to defeat the “Fan Song’s” track-while-scan emissions. Their combined jamming power protected the formation from a missile lock-on apart from a brief period when it was directly over the site.

Sadly, Pacific Air Force policy-shapers regarded the pods as unreliable and a wasteful use of two of the F-105’s five weapons/fuel pylons, so a delivery of QRC-160-1s was soon returned to the USA. After very heavy losses of F-105s in the summer of 1966, further combat trials were ordered, and by October the pods became an essential, highly effective addition for all F-105 missions to North Vietnam. Thunderchief losses to radar-directed AAA and SAMs fell from 72 in the “pre-pod” six months to 23 in the six months following their introduction.

The second potential remedy proved far more difficult to implement. Following the July 24, 1965 Phantom II shoot-down, SAM site attacks were finally allowed, but such strikes in the first three days after the incident cost no fewer than six F-105s. It was in inauspicious beginning for a seven-year, cat-and-mouse war between the Thunderchief and the SA-2.