22 November 1952: At Farmingdale, Long Island, New York, Republic Aviation Corporation test pilot Russell Morgan (“Rusty”) Roth took the first production F-84F-1-RE Thunderstreak, 51-1346, for its first flight.
Roth enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet, 30 October 1941. He was trained as a fighter pilot at Luke Field, Arizona, and was commissioned a second lieutenant on 22 June 1943. Serving with the 80th Fighter Squadron (“Headhunters”), Fifth Air Force, in New Guinea and the Philippine Islands, he flew 132 combat missions with the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. He was credited with shooting down two enemy airplanes and another two “probables.”
The swept-wing F-84F fighter bomber was an improved version of Republic’s straight-wing F-84 Thunderjet series, designed to operate at high subsonic speeds. Originally designated XF-96A, the prototype used the fuselage of the F-84E Thunderjet and was powered by an Allison J33 turbojet engine.
Redesignated XF-84F, the prototype was followed by two YF-84F pre-production airplanes which were powered by a more powerful Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire turbojet engine.
The early variants used a horizontal stabilizer with elevators. This was soon changed to an “all-flying” stabilator. The first ten aircraft were powered by the Wright J65-W-1 engine, a licensed variant of the Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire. These were later upgraded to the Buick-built J65-W-3.