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A Toast to the 'Iron Butterfly'



The Republic F-105 'Thunderchief ' had a myriad of nicknames during its service with the U.S. Air Force - Thunderchief, Thud, Hyper-Hog, Lead Sled, The Nickel, One-Man Air Force, Thunderthud, Triple Threat, Ultra-Hog, Squash Bomber, Squat Bomber, Republic Iron, and others...  But one of the most well known is the "Iron Butterfly".


A Thunderchief (serial no. 60-482) on static display is located on the northeast corner of the United States Air Force Academy's Terrazzo.  Nicknamed Iron Butterfly, it was assembled from parts of ten different F-105s that saw combat duty in Southeast Asia. It has been on display at the Academy since 1968.


When the display was dedicated in June of 1968, a flyby of four F-105s, led by Lt. Col. Jim "Black Matt" Matthews, the commander of the 563rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at McConnell AFB, near Wichita, Kansas, overflew the Academy at 1000 feet above ground level.  However, the Thuds overflew at just over Mach 1, and the resulting sonic boom broke nearly every piece of glass in the Cadet Area, as well as lifted the roof off of the dining hall.

The Academy's  F-105 originally had "Iron Butterfly" painted on its side. During the 1980s, a painting crew painted over the wording, but it was still somewhat visible if one knew where to look for it. In 1993, the F-105 was repainted again, and a cadet who knew about the original lettering bribed the paint crew with some cadet squadron patches to repaint the "Iron Butterfly" on the side of the jet.


The new lettering is not nearly as trippy as the old lettering was, but it suffices.








Basic ingredient of a standard 'Iron Butterfly' shooter.

1 oz.

Irish CreamBasic ingredient of a standard 'Iron Butterfly' shooter.1 oz.


Basic ingredient of a standard 'Iron Butterfly' shooter.

1 oz.

Pour vodka over ice in an old-fashioned glass. Add Kahlua and Irish cream, and stir.


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This page last updated Tuesday, July 10, 2012

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