The RF-84F Thunderflash was the photographic reconnaissance version of the F-84F Thunderstreak. It had many components in common with the F-84F, but differed in having the jet engine fed by a pair of wing root air intakes, the nose being taken up by a bank of cameras.
The second YF-84F prototype had actually been completed with wing root air intakes, leaving the nose with a solid cover. At that time, it was found that the wing root intakes resulted in thrust losses, and they were not adopted for production F-84F Thunderstreaks. However, the USAF was in need of a replacement for its aging Lockheed RF-80 Shooting Star unarmed reconnaissance aircraft, and concluded that the YF-84F with its wing root air intakes might make a good camera-carrying reconnaissance aircraft.
The first pre-production prototype, designated YRF-84F (51-1828) was completed in February of 1952. It had wing root inlets and a new nose enlarged to accommodate cameras. Four 0.50-inch machine guns were fitted in the wing roots, and a reinforced sliding cockpit canopy was used. Later, a set of dual wing fences were added to each wing.
Forty-one wing-root-intake reconnaissance versions were ordered in June of 1952 under the designation RF-84F. The popular name Thunderflash was given to these aircraft. The first production RF-84F (51-1829) exchanged the sliding canopy of the earlier prototype for the upward hinging canopy and the raised turtledeck that was standard on the F-84F. The first production block aircraft were fitted with the Wright J65-W-3. In June of 1955, the RF-84F-20-RE production block introduced the Wright J65-W-7 of 7800 lb.st. Late production RF-84Fs introduced spoilers on the upper surfaces of each wing to boost the maximum rate of roll to 300 degrees per second. This was done mainly to accommodate asymmetric "hang-ups" of underwing tanks.
The camera bay in the nose could accommodate up to six cameras in forward- facing, trimetrogen and individual oblique and vertical installations. The vertical camera bay had hydraulically-operated retractable doors, and behind these doors was an aperture for a vertical viewfinder with a periscope presentation on the cockpit panel. Photoflash ejectors could be carried in underwing tanks for nighttime photograpic reconnaissance missions.
Specification of the RF-84F:
One Wright J65-W-7 turbojet rated at 7800 lb.st. Performance: Maximum speed (clean), 679 mph at sea level (Mach 0.89), 627 mph at 5000 feet, 607 mph at 35,000 feet (Mach 0.92). The RF-84F is redlined at Mach 1.175 in a dive. Tactical radial (clean): 420 miles at 36,000 feet. Maximum range with two 450 US gallon drop tanks is 2000 miles. Initial climb rate (clean) is 7900 feet per minute. Service ceiling: 46,000 feet. Weights: 14,014 pounds empty, 20,091 pounds combat weight, and 25,390 pounds maximum takeoff. Dimensions were wingspan 33 feet 7 inches, length 47 feet 8 inches, height 15 feet 0 inches, wing area 325 square feet. Armament consisted of four 0.50-inch M-3 machine guns mounted in the outer intake walls.
51-1828 Republic YRF-84F-RE Thunderflash 51-1829/1831 Republic RF-84F-1-RE Thunderflash 51-1832 Republic RF-84F-25-RE Thunderflash 51-1833/1838 Republic RF-84F-1-RE Thunderflash 51-1839/1873 Republic RF-84F-5-RE Thunderflash 51-1874/1938 Republic RF-84F-10-RE Thunderflash 51-1939/1948 Republic RF-84F-15-RE Thunderflash 51-1949 Republic RF-84F-16-RE Thunderflash 51-1950/1956 Republic RF-84F-15-RE Thunderflash 51-1957/1958 Republic RF-84F-16-RE Thunderflash 51-11250 Republic RF-84F-16-RE Thunderflash 51-11251/11252 Republic RF-84F-15-RE Thunderflash 51-11253/11254 Republic RF-84F-16-RE Thunderflash 51-11255/11256 Republic RF-84F-15-RE Thunderflash 51-11257 Republic RF-84F-16-RE Thunderflash 51-11258/11294 Republic RF-84F-15-RE Thunderflash 51-11295/11296 Republic RF-84F-20-RE Thunderflash 51-11297 Republic RF-84F-21-RE Thunderflash 51-16996/17002 Republic RF-84F-21-RE Thunderflash 51-17003/17015 Republic RF-84F-25-RE Thunderflash 51-17016/17036 Republic RF-84F-26-RE Thunderflash 51-17037/17042 Republic RF-84F-25-RE Thunderflash 51-17043/17058 Republic RF-84F-26-RE Thunderflash 52-7229/7233 Republic RF-84F-21-RE Thunderflash 52-7234/7235 Republic RF-84F-20-RE Thunderflash 52-7236/7243 Republic RF-84F-21-RE Thunderflash 52-7244/7278 Republic RF-84F-20-RE Thunderflash 52-7279/7286 Republic RF-84F-26-RE Thunderflash 52-7287/7295 Republic RF-84F-25-RE Thunderflash 52-7296/7307 Republic RF-84F-26-RE Thunderflash 52-7308/7318 Republic RF-84F-25-RE Thunderflash 52-7319/7339 Republic RF-84F-26-RE Thunderflash 52-7340/7351 Republic RF-84F-25-RE Thunderflash 52-7352/7354 Republic RF-84F-26-RE Thunderflash 52-7355/7377 Republic RF-84F-25-RE Thunderflash 52-7378/7385 Republic RF-84F-30-RE Thunderflash 52-7386/7405 Republic RF-84F-31-RE Thunderflash 52-7378/7385 Republic RF-84F-30-RE Thunderflash 52-7386/7405 Republic RF-84F-31-RE Thunderflash 52-7406/7432 Republic RF-84F-30-RE Thunderflash 52-7433/7472 Republic RF-84F-31-RE Thunderflash 52-7473 Republic RF-84F-35-RE Thunderflash 52-7474/7475 Republic RF-84F-36-RE Thunderflash 52-8717/8766 Republic RF-84F-36-RE Thunderflash 53-7521/7532 Republic RF-84F-35-RE Thunderflash 53-7533/7558 Republic RF-84F-40-RE Thunderflash 53-7559 Republic RF-84F-41-RE Thunderflash 53-7560/7583 Republic RF-84F-46-RE Thunderflash 53-7584/7590 Republic RF-84F-41-RE Thunderflash 53-7591/7616 Republic RF-84F-40-RE Thunderflash 53-7617/7633 Republic RF-84F-46-RE Thunderflash 53-7634/7640 Republic RF-84F-45-RE Thunderflash 53-7641/7697 Republic RF-84F-46-RE Thunderflash 57-6552/6716 May be RF-84F supplied to Germany