RF-84K Thunderflash

Twenty-five RF-84F aircraft were converted to the RF-84K Thunderflash FICON parasite configuration, and were used operationally with ten GRB-36D mother ships. The conversion to K-models consisted of drooping the flying tail to a 23 degree anhedral, adding a retractable hook or yoke in what was normally the nose gun bay, and two lock mounts on the rear fuselage. In practice, the Thunderflash pilot would access the trapeze extended beneath the GRB-36D by approaching from the rear beneath the mother ship, then with marginal speed differential rise forward to connect the yoke to the trapeze. The mothership would then retract the trapeze into the bomb bay, lock the Thunderflash in place with a locking saddle, and close the fairing doors (which were installed in place of the bomb bay doors). As needed, the RF-84K would be released for recon duty over the target area, then return to the GRB-36D to be recaptured and ferried home. The GRB-36D aircraft had a radius in execess of 2800 miles, and the RF-84K added nearly 1200 miles, giving the pair an approximately 4000 mile recon radius. The FICON project was operational for less than a year from late 1955 into 1956. The Thunderflash aircraft were based at Larson AFB, and the Peacemakers were based at Fairchild AFB, both near Spokane, Washington.

B-36 listed as being converted for service as GRB-36D motherships are:
RB-36D-1 numbers 44-92092, 44-92090, 44-92094
RB-36D-10 numbers 49-2687, 49-2692
RB-36D-15 numbers 49-2694, 49-2695, 49-2696
RB-36D-20 numbers 49-2701, 49-2702
RB-36F-1 number 49-2707

Identification Features:
Swept wings and tail, 26-degree dihedral on horizontal tail, "razor-back" canopy, wing-root intakes.

Photos by Bruce Craig

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Right front, RF-84K 52-7265
Left front, RF-84K 52-7265

Photos by Greg Spahr

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Right side, RF-84K 51-1847
Right front, RF-84K 52-7259

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