New features in the F-84E included an Allison J-35A-17 engine, rated at 5,000 lb. s.t., strengthened wing structure to increase permissible G loads, and a longer fuselage to give more room in the cockpit. The F-84E had a radar gunsight and improved wing tip tanks for combat use. Also, a modified fuel system allowing use of two 230 US gallon tanks to increase combat radius from 850 to over 1,000 miles (739 to 869.5 nm) These tanks were carried on bomb shackles, located beneath the wings and inboard of the landing gear.
Republic proposed a new version of the existing F-84 type-then referred to as P-84 early in 1948, a few months before the entire F-84B fleet was grounded. Notwithstanding the fact that the new version did not "compare favorably with the North American P-86 airplane," procurement was tentatively approved in July 1948. Several factors contributed to the Air Force decision. It would cost little more to buy the new F-84 version than to improve existing models. Republic was overcoming earlier production difficulties and future delivery schedules appeared realistic. Finally, it seemed advisable to maintain two sources of fighter production-North American and Republic.
The Air Force approved the first contract for the "E" model and then re-endorsed the entire F-84 program. This first "E" contract provided for the production of 409 aircraft at a cost of $44 million.
In mid-1949, following completion of the APG tests connected with the entire F-84 program's reappraisal, $3.3 million were added to the $44 million procurement contract to ensure further preproduction improvements of the new model. The Air Force subsequently issued three other F-84E production contracts, including one for 100 articles earmarked for the Mutual Defense Assistance Program.
Two aircraft were first delivered on 26 May 1949.
Accelerated service tests at Wright Patterson AFB demonstrated that the F-84E met serviceability standards and was "comparatively easy to maintain." General flight handling characteristics also were satisfactory, but the complex A-1B sighting system was still unreliable. Despite renewed efforts, modified sights (A-1Cs) did not become available until the beginning of 1950. Pending their availability the F-84E deliveries were suspended.
The F-84E entered service in 1949 and went to Korea 1 year later (December 1950) with SAC's 27th Fighter Escort Wing.
A total of 843 F-84Es were accepted-743 for the Air Force and 100 for MDAP.
Two F-84Es were accepted in FY 49, 348 in FY 50, and 393 in FY 51. The MDAP deliveries were made toward the end of production-97 in FY 51 and three during the first month of FY 52.
Production ended with delivery of the last three MDAP F-84Es in July 1951.
There were no other configurations of the F-84E. As an answer to USAF need for an interceptor, Republic early in 1949 offered to produce still another F-84 version at a unit cost of $190,000.00. The contractor also offered to substitute future productions of its new proposal for the F-84E fighter bombers already under contract. The Air Force turned down both offers.
The Flyaway Cost Per Production Aircraft was $212,241.00 airframe, $139.863; engine (installed), $41,654; electronics, $7,165; armament, $23,559.
More than 50 percent of the F-84s in USAF operational inventory were out of commission in April 1950. One year later, despite determined efforts in the intervening months, in-commission rates were still below par and only 549 of the Air Force's 829 F-84B, C, D, and E aircraft were operational. The main problem was the critical shortages of spare parts and supporting equipment, especially in the engine field. In the F-84E's case, the J-35-A-17 engines had been procured on the assumption that units would operate each plane for 25 hours per month and for 100 hours between overhauls. But the worldwide dispersal of F-84Es and the required low number of hours between overhauls made it doubtful in April 1951 that enough engines could be produced in a short period to meet the flying time planned for this plane even if the manufacturer were allocated funds. By May, the engine shortage endangered future oversea deployments of F-84Es. Although US commanders in Korea were asking for the accelerated conversion of all fighter bomber squadrons to F-84E aircraft, Fifth Air Force received no immediate relief. The US Air Force allocated $26 million to expand GM's Allison Division J-35 productions, but the scheduled augmentation of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) air forces retained its higher priority and prevented any accelerated buildup of F-84E aircraft in the Far East.
Only 27 of the first 60 F-84Es deployed to the Far East in December 1950 were operationally ready, but this situation was quickly improved. Nevertheless, the aircraft were much too slow to cope on even terms with the swept wing MIG 15s. They, therefore, never did perform outstandingly as escort for the B 29 bombers. On the other hand, the F-84E by the end of 1951 had acquired the reputation of being "the best ground support jet in the theater."
The inventory of war committed F-84D and F-84E aircraft shrank through attrition, especially during the winter of 1952-1953. Other significant losses occurred because of materiel failures and pilot errors, continuing problems that led the Tactical Air Command (TAC) to use a number of F-84Es for training until 1956, when these aircraft finally ended their active service. Other F-84Es had begun to reach the ANG in 1951, totaling 115 in 1957. The Guard phased out their last two F-84Es in mid 1959-2 years after the Air Force Reserve (first assigned a few F-84Es in mid 1954) gave up all its fighters.
Two F-84Es (redesignated EF-84Es), fitted with probe equipment and using air refueling, made an experimental nonstop flight across the North Atlantic. Both aircraft left England on 22 September, piloted by Col. David C. Schilling and Lt. Col. William Ritchie, respectively. Schilling touched down in the United States 10 hours and 2 minutes later, after three inflight refuelings. Ritchie had to bail out over , Newfoundland. The flights explored the feasibility of rapidly moving large numbers of jet fighters across the Atlantic. They also tested new air to air refueling techniques, using the British developed "probe and drogue" refueling system. TAC later adopted this system as standard on its fighters and converted B-29 and B-50 tankers.
Korean experience pointed at the urgent need of a powerful airlaunched projectile that could penetrate armor and knock out enemy tanks. Four F-84Es were modified to carry 24 Oerlikon 8cm. aerial rockets. The aircraft sent to the Far East for evaluation incurred minimum performance degradation as a result of their new armament. The high velocity of the Swiss rocket also resulted in much greater accuracy of fire. This armament project, however, never went beyond testing."
Before 1950, the foreign aid program had been primarily in the planning stage. By contrast, the regular FY 51 congressional appropriation for the MDAP amounted to more than $1.2 billion, with an Air Force allocation for materiel aid of some $181 million. This included 307 new F-84Es to be distributed to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Soon afterward, a supplemental appropriation gave the Air Force another $800 million to hasten the supply of USAF weapons to NATO nations. The Air Force subsequently reduced to 100 the MDAP quota of F-84Es and made up the difference with newer F-84G and F aircraft.
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