F-84 G Thunderjet
The Thunderbird's OriginsThe Thunderbirds were officially activated May 25, 1953, as the 3600th Air Demonstration Team at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.The unit's first aircraft was the straight-winged F-84G Thunderjet, a combat-proven fighter-bomber that had seen extensive action in the Korean War. Early in 1955, the Thunderbirds transitioned to the swept-wing F-84F Thunderstreak. In their first three years with the F-84, the team performed for more than nine million spectators in 222 shows that included tours of Central and South America.
In June 1956, the team moved to its current home at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. At the same time, the Thunderbirds traded the veteran F-84 for the world's first supersonic fighter, the F-100 Super Sabre --the aerial platform that would serve the Thunderbirds for 13 years. The F-100 years were memorable. More than 1,100 demonstrations were flown in the "C" and "D" models of the aircraft, thrilling spectators from the Far East to North Africa. In the middle of the F- 100 era, the team changed briefly to the F-1O5B Thunderchief. After only six shows in 1964, due to an extensive modification that became necessary on all Thunderchiefs, the Thunderbirds transitioned to theF-1OOD, a jet that was capable of air refueling, which allowed the squadron to fly greater distances in less time.