Planes of Fame Air Museum
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Home »  Collection »  Flying & Static Aircraft »  Republic RF-84K 'Thunderflash'


  • The RF-84K was a modified version of the F-84F Thunderstreak. It was designed to be carried semi-enclosed in the bomb bay of the GRB-36 Peacemaker bomber, and deployed as needed for reconnaissance and strike missions. At the time, jet fighters had relatively short range and aerial refueling was in its infancy, so this provided a means to extend their range.
  • The RF-84K started its development in 1952 as the GRF-84F, when the USAF ordered Republic Aviation to modify 25 RF-84Fs as part of the Fighter Conveyer (FICON) program. At the same time, Convair modified 10 B-36s into carrier aircraft, and McDonnell was tasked to develop the XF-85 Goblin, which was planned as a "parasite" defensive fighter for the B-36 series, using the same attachment gear as the RF-84K.
  • The reconnaissance gear was mounted in the nose of the RF-84F. Thus, unlike earlier models of the F-84 series, the RF-84F had the engine inlets mounted in the wing roots. The RF-84K retained this feature, and added a large retractable hook in the upper part of the nose, stabilizer rods behind the cockpit, and elevators with a significant anhedral. All of these modifications were to enable carriage by the GRB-36.
  • The RF-84K entered service in 1955, but difficulties during rendezvous with the carrier aircraft prevented its widespread use. Just two years later, improvements in jet engine technology and in aerial refueling made the parasite fighter concept obsolete. From 1957, RF-84Ks were flown off conventional runways until they were phased out of service.



  • Planes of Fame Air Museum's RF-84K Thunderflash was one of 25 RF-84Ks modified for aerial hook-up to B-36 bombers as part of the Fighter Conveyer (FICON) program.  This black & white photo is of the Museum's RF-84K when it was assigned to the 407th Strategic Fighter Wing in 1955.



Status: Static Display
Manufacturer: Republic Aviation
Year: 1952
Model: RF-84K Thunderflash
Registration Number:
Serial Number:   52-7265 - Mfg. c/n 221
Crew: 1
Max T/O Weight: 26,800 lb.
Span: 33 ft. 7 in.
Length: 47 ft. 8 in.
Height: 15 ft. 0 in.
Maximum Speed: 629 mph
Cruise Speed: 525 mph
Rate of Climb: 8,200 ft/min
Power Plant: 1 x Wright Sapphire J65 turbojet, 7,800 lbs. thrust
Range: 2,000 mi
Service Ceiling: 39,390 ft.
Armament: Four 0.50-cal. machine guns


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