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Republic RF-84 Thunderflash

Dedicated Single-Seat, Single-Engine Reconnaissance Aircraft

OVERVIEW
HISTORY
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
DATA
Overview



The Republic RF-84F Thunderflash was a dedicated reconnaissance conversion model of the swept-wing F-84F Thunderstreak jet fighter.
History



Detailing the development and operational history of the Republic RF-84 Thunderflash Dedicated Single-Seat, Single-Engine Reconnaissance Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 5/30/2019. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The original Republic F-84 "Thunderjet" was born from a 1944 wartime requirement o the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). The type, originally emerging as a straight-winged jet-powered fighter, suffered through a protracted development period, only going airborne for the first time after the World War 2 in 1946 and not achieving operational status until 1949. The design, despite its faults, did go on to serve as the framework for other related aircraft projects including the swept-wing F-model "Thunderstreak" and the developmental minded XF-84H "Thunderscreech" and XF-91 "Thunderceptor" forms (all detailed elsewhere on this site).

One other key development of the line became the F-84F "Thunderflash", a reconnaissance-minded variant of the F-model series. This form was born in the third of three YF-84F fighter-minded prototypes which, instead of utilizing a nose-mounted intake, relied on wing-root-mounted, triangular-shaped intakes to aspirate the single engine installation in the aft-end of the fuselage. The change led to thrust loss which, in turn, led the USAF away from the approach. However, the design made sense for a dedicated reconnaissance platform as the new aircraft permitted a hollowed-out nose section to be fitted to the aircraft to which camera equipment could be carried internally - all the while retaining 4 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 heavy machines guns for combat purposes. The resulting form became "YRF-84F" and this model appeared in February of 1952 - as the Korean War (1950-1953) was in full swing.

The new aircraft sported the same all-swept-back wing surfaces as the Thunderstreak production fighters to aid in high-speed flying. The wing mainplanes exhibited twin boundary layer fences and blended smoothly into the wing root intake shrouds. The retractable tricycle undercarriage of the original was also retained as was the pilot's placement near the front of the aircraft. Under each wing root could be affixed a fuel drop tank for increased operational ranges. Internally, the camera equipment was assisted through an early-form digital arrangement to take into account the aircraft's speed and operating altitude as well as current lighting conditions to provide for a more accurate picture.

In the end, some 715 Thunderflash aircraft were built with the series entering formal service in March of 1954. The line was cursed to an extent with some of the same engine issues and production delays of the original Thunderstreak line and only managed a frontline service life until 1957. In 1961, the series was brought online once more but its contributions were officially ended in 1972 - these units operating with the Air National Guard (ANG).

The FICON ("FIghter CONveyor") program was a related Thuderflash initiative undertaken by the newly-minded United States Air Force (USAF) and fell in line with current-period thinking of introducing "parasite fighters" into a combat theater by way of a "mothership". In this particular case, it was RF-84K Thunderflash models operating (in converted forms) with a CONVAIR B-36 "Peacemaker" jet-powered heavy bomber. The concept was in play with U.S. Strategic Air Command (SAC) from 1955 until 1956 and proved the tactic as viable. The RF-84Ks emerged from the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron at Larsson, AFB while the Peacemakers operated from the 99th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing of Fairchild AFB.

Key changes to the RF-84F models were retracting "hook-up" probes and an anhedral angle added to the horizontal tailplanes. Despite its marginal success, the concept was ultimately abandoned by the USAF. Twenty-five or so RF-84Ks were used during the program period and all but three were ultimately dismantled.




Specifications

YEAR: 1954
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Republic Aviation - USA
PRODUCTION: 715
CREW: 1
LENGTH: 43.47 ft (13.25 m)
WIDTH: 33.63 ft (10.25 m)
HEIGHT: 14.44 ft (4.4 m)
EMPTY WEIGHT: 12,125 lb (5,500 kg)
MTOW: 25,353 lb (11,500 kg)
POWER: 1 x Wright J65-W-3 turbojet engine developing 7,220lb of thrust.
SPEED: 621 mph (1,000 kph; 540 kts)
CEILING: 45,932 feet (14,000 m; 8.7 miles)
RANGE: 808 miles (1,300 km; 702 nm)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 8,000 ft/min (2,438 m/min)
OPERATORS: United States (retired)
Armament



4 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) in nose section.

Also special-mission equipment encompassing up to fifteen reconnaissance-minded camera systems.

2 x Fuel drop tanks fitted to under-wing-root hardpoints as needed.
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft external fuel tank
Variants / Models



• F-84 "Thunderflash" - Base Series Designation.
• YF-84F - Prototype configuration (third of three original), reworked as the YRF-84F.
• F-84F - Production fighter form on which the RF-84F is based on.
• YRF-84F - Definitive Thunderflash prototype form.
• RF-84F - Production model designation; 715 examples completed.
• GRF-84F - F-model reconnaissance aircraft relying on B-36 Peacekeeper mothership; 25 examples.
• RF-84K FICON - Redesignation of GRF-84F aircraft.








Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (621mph).

Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LDN
LDN
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MSK
MSK
 
  TKY
TKY
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Republic RF-84F Thunderflash's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (715)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
715
715

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
CAS
Training
ASW
Anti-Ship
AEW
MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
SAR
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
Recon
SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.




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