For missions up into Package Five and Six … geographically, roughly Hanoi and Haiphong … with railroads, steel mills and shipping piers … divided between USAF strikes and USN strikes … , there was only about a 25% chance of completing one mission.
For a flight of four, at least one plane would be shot down; all four might be shot down … but at least one of you was not returning home.
The “problem” was that the generals were all veterans [or rather, the survivors] of the Eighth Air Force in World War Two. They flew B-17’s over Germany from England. Losses were so high, that sometimes the Americans ran out of airplanes and operations had to be suspended until the factories in the USA could construct and deliver more airplanes. They had the second highest losses of World War Two, excepting only the German U-Boats, which had 75% losses.
So, the American generals were unsympathetic to American F-105 losses. The orders were to fly predesignated flight paths and predictable flight takeoffs … same time every day … so if you got shot down, you got shot down. They didn’t have electronic countermeasures during WW2 so why did they need them now? [Actually we did have some minimal ECM during WW2, but the Germans’ radar was superior.]
So, as far as the American generals were concerns, it was straight ahead into the cauldron. No evasive moves. No anti-radar strikes. No jamming. White scarf massed attacks. Straight ahead.
Long story. So we lost a plane a day.
Secretary McNamara was appalled by the waste … surplus equipment left over after World War Two and only wanted up purchase JUST ENOUGH planes and vehicles to do the job. Which was why the people at Ford Motor Company were so happy to get rid of him. President Johnson stated that he didn’t want ANY Russian MiG’s shot down.
So our guys were screwed.
I remember the “deadline” … the magic date when McNamara stated the war would be won … based on his calculations.
Gosh … it didn’t happen.
Our planes didn’t have guided missiles or precision guided bombs [they had not been invented yet]; in fact, the bombs themselves were often left over from WW2. And McNamara was so enraged that our planes couldn’t hit a bicycle shop or a 2x4 bridge that he ordered one of the precious bomb hard points to be equipped with camera pods so that he could see home movies of each bomb as they fell.
The F-105’s had five hard points. Two under each wing and one under the belly.
So you add a Sidewinder on one side and a QRC-160 jammer pod to the other side and now you have only three hard points for bombs.
And now McNamara wanted another of the hard points to carry a camera pod.
Only two hard points left.
They made generous use of MER’s and TERS. Multiple ejection racks and triple ejection racks, so they could put lots of bombs on one hard point.
The F-105 did have a bomb bay, which was for the original mission, carrying a nuke.
So, they put a fuel tank in the bomb bay and then a MER or a TER outside of the belly.
If you look at the photos, you see these huge racks full of bombs almost dragging on the ground.