Republic P-47B Thunderbolt

Republic P-47B Thunderbolt

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Republic P-47B Thunderbolt

In many ways the P-47B was a development model of the Thunderbolt. In the summer of 1940 the original lightweight design for the P-47 had been cancelled, and the new massive radial engined version approved. In many ways similar to the earlier XP-44 Rocket, which in its later versions was to have used the same Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine adopted for the Thunderbolt, the prototype XP-47B first flew on 6 May 1941.

The XP-47B closely resembled the production aircraft. The main differences were in the cockpit, which was entered through a hinged door on the left side of the aircraft, and on the control surfaces, which were fabric covered. After extensive tests, the prototype was lost in a crash on 8 August 1942. The prototype recorded a top speed of 412 mph.

A year after the first flight of the prototype, the first production aircraft was accepted by the USAAF (26 May 1942). The production aircraft differed from the prototype in having a full sliding canopy, replacing the hinged door. It was also appreciably faster, with a top speed of 429 mph.

The P-47B was issued to the 56th Fighter Group in June 1942. They would be the only unit to use this model. Lessons learned by the 56th FG would be used on the P-47C.

The most important of these lessons was that the fabric covered control surfaces were inadequate. On the P-47B they were replaced by metal covered surfaces, and the change was incorporated in all later versions.

The pilots of the 56th FG also learned a series of valuable lessons in how to handle the massive P-47. It was twice the size of anything they had flown before, with very different strengths and weaknesses. Even one of its main strengths, its speed in the dive, could be a danger for novice pilots, who often failed to exit from the dive in time to avoid a crash. The P-47B was not considered combat ready, and had been replaced by the P-47C by the time the 5th FG was sent to Europe. 170 P-47Bs were completed before the designation was changed.

Engine: Pratt & Whitney R-2800-21
Horsepower: 2000
Max Speed: 429 mph at 27,800ft
Ceiling: 42,000ft
Span: 40ft 9.25in
Length: 35ft 4in
Range: 550 miles at 25,000ft, 835 miles at 10,000ft

Republic P-47B Thunderbolt - History

The P-47B was fitted with a Pratt & Whitney R-2800-21 engine rated at 2000 hp.
The engine drove a 12' 2"diameter Curtiss Electric C542S-A6 propeller.
The P-47B had an empty weight of 9,346lbs and a maximum loaded weight of 13,360 pounds.
The P-47B was essentially a test model and most were modified and quickly replaced by the P-47C model.
Only 171 P-47B models were built and very few were sent overseas.

The first Thunderbolt to be considered truly combat-ready was the P-47C-2-RE.
Perhaps the most important change introduced by this production block was the provision for shackles and
a release mechanism for a bomb or a fuel tank on the underside of the belly. When carrying a 200-gallon
belly tank the range was extended to 1250 miles at an altitude of 10,000 feet.
The P-47C-5-RE introduced revised radio, instruments, and antenna. Cockpit heating was also introduced.
The P-47C was the first Thunderbolts to see combat in Europe.
602 P-47Cs were delivered by February 1943, when the improved P-47D replaced it on the production line.

P-47C Serial Numbers:

The Early P-47D differed very little from the P-47C-5-RE. The P-47D had changes in the turbo
supercharger exhaust system which incorporated an adjustable duct and redesigned vents for the engine
accessory section. Additional cowl flaps were fitted to improve engine cooling airflow.
More extensive armor protection was provided for the pilot.

Demand for the Thunderbolt was so great that Republic built a new factory at Evansville, Indiana to
augment production of the P-47D. 1050 P-47Ds were ordered from Evansville on January 31, 1942, and
the first Evansville-built P-47D (serial number 42-22250) rolled off the assembly line in September of 1942.
Evansville-built P-47Ds were distinguished by the use of the RA manufacturer letter code rather than RE.
Curtis built 354 P-47's designated P-47G, these were identical as the Republic versions, however most
Curtis built P-47's remained stateside and were used by training units.

Production batches D-22-RE and D-23-RA, a 13' diameter paddle-bladed propeller (either a Hamilton
Standard Hydromatic 24E50-65 or a Curtiss Electric C542S) was fitted to make full use of the additional
power provided by water injection. Blocks D-22-RE and D-23-RA were also provided with a jettisonable
cockpit canopy which was activated by the pilot pulling a ring. A bullet-proof windshield was fitted, and
internal fuel capacity was increased.

The early "bubble-canopy" Thunderbolts had suffered from some directional instability as a result of the loss
of aft keel area. From the P-47D-30-RE production lots onward, a dorsal fin was fitted just ahead of the
rudder. This innovation successfully restored the stability.
The high diving speeds of which the Thunderbolt was capable pushed the aircraft into the edge of
compressibility, and new blunt-nosed ailerons were fitted to improve controllability at these high speeds. In
order to help in dive recovery at these high speeds, an electrically-operated dive recovery flap was fitted on
the undersurfaces of each wing.

42-7853 - 7957 Republic P-47D-1-RE Thunderbolt
42-7958 - 8402 Republic P-47D-2-RE Thunderbolt
42-8403 - 8702 Republic P-47D-5-RE Thunderbolt
42-22250 - 22363 Republic P-47D-1-RA Thunderbolt
42-22364 - 22563 Republic P-47D-2-RA Thunderbolt
42-22564 - 22663 Republic P-47D-3-RA Thunderbolt
42-22664 - 22863 Republic P-47D-4-RA Thunderbolt
42-22864 - 23113 Republic P-47D-11-RA Thunderbolt
42-23114 - 23142 Republic P-47D-16-RA Thunderbolt
42-23143 - 23299 Republic P-47D-15-RA Thunderbolt
42-25274 - 25322 Republic P-47D-20-RE Thunderbolt
42-25323 - 25538 Republic P-47D-21-RE Thunderbolt
42-25539 - 26388 Republic P-47D-22-RE Thunderbolt
42-26389 - 26773 Republic P-47D-25-RE Thunderbolt
42-26774 - 27388 Republic P-47D-27-RE Thunderbolt
42-27389 - 28188 Republic P-47D-23-RA Thunderbolt
42-28189 - 28438 Republic P-47D-26-RA Thunderbolt
42-28439 - 29466 Republic P-47D-28-RA Thunderbolt
42-74615 - 74964 Republic P-47D-6-RE Thunderbolt
42-74965 - 75214 Republic P-47D-10-RE Thunderbolt
42-75215 - 75614 Republic P-47D-11-RE Thunderbolt
42-75615 - 75864 Republic P-47D-15-RE Thunderbolt
42-75865 - 76118 Republic P-47D-16-RE Thunderbolt
42-76119 - 76364 Republic P-47D-15-RE Thunderbolt
42-76365 - 76614 Republic P-47D-20-RE Thunderbolt
43-25254 - 25440 Republic P-47D-20-RA Thunderbolt
43-25441 - 25664 Republic P-47D-21-RA Thunderbolt
43-25665 - 25753 Republic P-47D-23-RA Thunderbolt
44-19558 - 20307 Republic P-47D-28-RE Thunderbolt
44-20308 - 21107 Republic P-47D-30-RE Thunderbolt
44-32668 - 33867 Republic P-47D-30-RA Thunderbolt
44-89684 - 90283 Republic P-47D-30-RA Thunderbolt
44-90284 - 90483 Republic P-47D-40-RA Thunderbolt
45-49090 - 49554 Republic P-47D-40-RA Thunderbolt

Republic P-47B Thunderbolt - History

The P-47 originated on the drawing board of Alexander Kartveli of Seversky Aircraft Corp (later Republic Aviation) and was consistently rated as one of the three outstanding USAAF fighters of World War 2—right up there along with the P-38 Lightning and P-51 Mustang. It was built in greater numbers than any other American fighter, 15,683 of them, before production finally ended.

At one time during the heady days of 1944 there were no less than 31 front-line fighter groups flying Thunderbolts on all fronts, including Alaska. Approximately two-thirds of all Thunderbolts built actually reached operational units overseas, and in combat from Mar 1943 to Aug 1945 they flew more than a half-million combat missions, destroying more than 12,000 enemy aircraft in the air and on the ground, as against a total of 5,222 Thunderbolts lost, only 824 of them in aerial combat. That corresponded to 54% of the Thunderbolts overseas being eventually lost to enemy action or accidents, a fairly typical attrition rate for a wartime fighter. Losses on operational missions were 0.7 percent of those dispatched, an exceptionally low figure. By war's end Thunderbolts had established an over-all ratio of aerial combat victories of 4.6 to 1, and had dropped 132,482 tons of bombs, fired 59,567 rockets, and expended 135 million belts of ammunition.

In the relatively short time from D-Day to V-E Day Thunderbolts destroyed 86,000 railway cars, 9,000 locomotives, 6,000 armored vehicles and tanks, 68,000 trucks, 2,752 enemy aircraft in the air and 3,315 on the ground.

XP-47, P-47A

The P-47 as originally conceived was quite different from what would ultimately emerge from Republic's factories. On Aug 1, 1939 Kartveli, in response to an official requirement, proposed a lightweight high-altitude interceptor with a company designation of AP-10, to be powered by an 1150hp Allison V-1710-39 liquid-cooled inline engine. That was a radical change in design philosophy for Kartveli, as he had preferred air-cooled radials for fighters because of their greater simplicity and ability to absorb more battle damage. Estimated gross weight was 4900# and top speed 415 mph. Armament would be two .50 machine guns in the top engine housing.

The USAAC was impressed however, they stressed that more armament would be required, even at the cost of performance. Kartveli increased the size of his AP-10 design somewhat and added four wing-mounted .30 machine guns. In this guise, the AAC ordered one prototype in Nov 1939 as XP-47 [40-3051]. Then on Jan 17, 1940 they ordered a stripped version of the same basic design as XP-47A [40-3052], devoid of armament, radio, and other tactical equipment so it could be tested before the fully-equipped XP-47.

Meanwhile, reports from Europe were changing everyone's ideas about air combat. More firepower, more armament and armor-plate, and self-sealing fuel tanks were likely to be critical in future air battles. Both XP-47 and XP-47A had insufficient power to bear the additional weight required by such features, and the AAC concluded that they would likely fall far short of future air combat requirements. The Army complained that XP-47 was too lightly armed, that it had too high a wing loading and was too slow in comparison with the Curtiss XP-46. Anticipating that the Army would ultimately reject his XP-47 design, Kartveli went back to the drawing board.

P-47B Thunderbolt

Kartveli decided to design the XP-47B fuselage around the large turbo-supercharger from the start, rather than to add it later. In order to preserve a streamlined fuselage with a small cross-section, the large turbo-supercharger was placed in the rear fuselage, fed by an air duct beneath the engine. Engine exhaust gases were directed to the rear fuselage in separate pipes to the turbine and were expelled through an exhaust under the tail. Ducted air was fed to a centrifugal impeller and was returned to the engine under pressure via an intercooler.

Another problem was that the aircraft required a very large 12' four-blade propeller in order to take full advantage of the R-2800's high power output, which in turn required a long and stalky undercarriage to give it adequate ground clearance during take-off and landing. If a conventional retractable gear were used for the P-47, its suspension needed to be placed very far outboard on the wings, leaving insufficient space for the eight wing guns and their ammunition. The solution was a telescoping landing gear that was nine inches shorter when retracted than when extended. Somewhat surprisingly, the complex landing gear seems to have caused but few problems in the field.

Like the earlier P-35 and P-43, the P-47 was a cantilever low-wing monoplane, the wing being elliptical with ailerons on the outer trailing edge and flaps on the inner trailing edge. Its semi-monocoque fuselage was all metal, but initially the control surfaces were fabric covered. Tailwheel was steerable and fully retractable. All fuel tanks were inside the fuselage and were self-sealing. The cockpit was protected by armor and was unpressurized.

The name *Thunderbolt* for the P-47B was thought up by C Hart Miller, Republic's director of military contracts. The company approved his choice and the name stuck. The XP-47B prototype [40-3051] flew for the first time on May 6, 1941, piloted by Lowry L Brabham, only eight months after the order had been placed—on that flight, Brabham had to make an emergency landing because of exhaust fumes into the cockpit. The XP-47B was the largest single-engine fighter built up to that time. At a loaded weight of 12,086 pounds, the XP-47B dwarfed all previous fighters, being almost twice as heavy as most of its contemporaries.

Its 18-cylinder XR-2800-21 radial provided 1960hp at 25,800' and gave it a maximum speed of 412, which was 12 mph faster than Kartveli had projected. Empty and normal gross weights were 9189# and 12,086#.

The first production P-47B [41-5895] was really a specially-built second prototype. Delivered to the Army on Dec 21, 1941, it was dispatched to Wright Field for testing XP-47B remained with Republic. The next four production P-47Bs [41-5896/5899] were delivered in mid-March 1942 for an extensive test program by various agencies.

Numerous problems soon surfaced in testing. [41-5899] crashed when part of the tail assembly broke off in flight on Mar 26, 1942 killing Republic test pilot George Burrrell, which resulted in restrictions being placed on P-47B flight while the cause was under investigation. At altitudes above 30,000' ailerons tended to freeze, the cockpit canopy stuck shut, control forces were excessive, and the fabric of the elevators often ruptured after high-speed flight when aerodynamic pressures caused it to balloon and burst. Those problems caused further P-47 acceptances to be delayed until May 1942.

The problems of freezing ailerons and ruptured elevators was solved by having those control surfaces metal-clad on subsequent P-47Bs. Most earlier P-47Bs were eventually modified thusly and the earlier restrictions removed. Also the ailerons were revised in shape and fitted with blunt noses, which largely alleviated the excessive control force problem balanced trim-tabs were adopted to reduce rudder pedal loads.

The canopy problem was solved by replacing the original hinged canopy by a rearward-sliding hood. That required the dorsal radio antenna to be redesigned and moved further aft, an innovation believed to have been applied from P-47B [41-5896] onward. Windshield defroster was introduced with P-47B [41-5951]. Beginning with [41-5974] major changes were made in control surface movement limitations and tailplane incidence, new landing gear tires were introduced at [41-5974], and modified link ejector chutes were added to guns on [41-6016] and subsequent aircraft.

Production P-47Bs had the 2000hp R-2800-21 and a 12'2" Curtiss Electric C542S-A6 propeller. An increase of internal equipment raised the empty, normal loaded, and maximum loaded weights to 9346, 12,245, and 13,360 pounds respectively. Consequently, the climb to 15,000 feet took 6.7 minutes rather than the promised five however, the production-ready engine provided an increase in level speed to 429 mph at 27,000'.

At one time it was hoped that it would be possible for the RAF to test the Thunderbolt in combat in the Middle East, but production difficulties caused the Air Ministry to be informed in Sep 1941 that it was probably not a good idea until all the bugs had been removed from the design.

P-47Bs were first issued in mid-1942 to the 56th Fighter Group (FG), chosen as the first recipient because it was based near NYC, close to the Farmingdale plant where Republic engineers could be easily called upon to solve problems as they arose. P-47Bs of the 56th were used largely for stateside testing and operational training, very few went overseas, and the Group found working up to its new mounts rather difficult㬉 pilots and 41 aircraft were lost in accidents. By the end of June half of their aircraft were damaged or destroyed. Many crashes were the result of pilot inexperience, but a significant number were caused by loss of control during high-speed dives. When the rudder was ripped from a P-47B in flight, an order was issued on Aug 1, 1942 restricting the speeds to 300 mph or less, forbidding violent maneuvers, and stipulating that fuel be carried in the rear tank.

The omega P-47B [41-6065] was first redesignated XP-47E, modified with a hinged canopy and pressurized cockpit, then as XP-47F when it flew on Sep 17, 1942 to test a new larger-area wing with a laminar-flow aerofoil no production of either followed. Prototype XP-47B was destroyed in an accident on Aug 8, 1942. The last P-47B was delivered in Sep 1942. Active P-47Bs in 1944 were redesignated RP-47B as "Restricted," not to be used for combat.

POP: 1 XP-47B [40-3051].
POP: 170 P-47B [41-5895/6065].

Republic P-47D "Thunderbolt" - "Dottie Mae" 42-29150 (K4-S)

Constructed as a P-47D-28-RA by Republic at Evansville, Indiana, USA.

Circa 1942: - Taken on Strength/Charge with the United States Army Air Force with s/n 42-29150.

Transferred to 405th FG, 511th FS.

Operated with markings: Dottie Mae, K4-S

1945: May 8, - Crashed. Struck the surface of Lake Tranunsee (Traun), Austria, and crashed.

2005: June 13, - Recovered. To Sandy Air, Zirl, Tyrol (Tirol).

2005: June 13, - Recovered. The complete aiframe was recovered from the lake by Sandy Air.

2005: - To Trojan Aircraft Services/Brian Kenney, Chino, CA.

2005: May 7, - Assigned civil registration: N328FA

2005: July, Transported by ship. Moved from Europe to California.

2008: May 7, - Civil registration N328FA (P-47, 42-29150) reserved.

To Allied Fighters/John V. Croul, Chino Airport, Chino, CA.

Contracted to Airframe Assemblies/Mike Breshears. Caldwell, ID for work on the airframe.

Markings Applied: Dottie Mae

2011: June 24, - Civil registration, N328FA, cancelled.

2017: June 21, - Certificate of airworthiness for NX47DM (P-47, 42-29150) issued.

Republic P-47D (F-47) Thunderbolt

Republic's immense and powerful P-47 Thunderbolt was one of the truly great fighters of World War II. Designed under the leadership of Alexander Kartveli, the Thunderbolt provided stout protection for the pilot, and its rugged construction and air-cooled engine allowed it to withstand battle damage. Additionally, its .50-caliber machine guns packed a punch in combat. It served effectively in air-to-air combat and bomber escort roles, but what it truly excelled at was ground attack. The P-47 was built in greater numbers (15,683 units) than any other U.S. fighter, including the North American P-51.

The Museum’s aircraft is a P-47D-2-RE model built in Farmingdale, New York. Its wartime history is unknown. It is a "re-imported" aircraft, representing one of the many Thunderbolts that were sent to Latin American countries as part of post-war military assistance programs. The aircraft was delivered to the Bolivian Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Boliviana) in October 1949. For a number of years, it was a "gate guard" at the La Paz, Bolivia airport.

Doug Champlin later acquired the aircraft from Jim Cullen in 1976 and shipped it to Dick Martin of Carlsbad, California for a complete rebuild to airworthiness, which was completed in 1981. The aircraft was restored in the markings of Colonel Robert Baseler's 325th Fighter Group aircraft, famous for their "checker tail" paint scheme.

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt – Specifications, Facts, Drawings, Blueprints

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was the largest single-engine craft built during World War II, and the Army Air Force acquired it in greater numbers than any other fighter. The Thunderbolt’s ability to absorb incredible damage and stay aloft was legendary, and pilots affectionately referred to it as the “Jug.”

This famous aircraft was a further development of the mediocre Republic P-43 Lancer. It was built around a 2,000-horsepower Pratt & Whitney radial engine and carried a supercharger in the aft section of the fuselage. The prototype XP-47 flew for the first time in May 1941 and showed great promise, but a succession of technical problems delayed production until spring 1942.

Orders were placed in September 1940 for one hundred and seventy-one P-47Bs and six hundred and two P-47Cs, and on 6 May 1941 the XP-47B made its first flight. The B and C models were basically similar, but C was given a slightly longer fuselage to improve manoeuvrability.

The first Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighters entered United States Army Air Force (USAAF) service in 1942, becoming operational with Eighth Air Force units over Europe in April 1943 and in the Pacific theatre some two months later.

When the Thunderbolt finally reached England in January 1943, its lumbering size was greeted with scepticism by many pilots. In combat, however, the P-47 possessed fine high-altitude performance and, by dint of great weight, could outdive any German fighter. But the Jug’s finest attribute was sheer strength. A Republic P-47 Thunderbolt could sustain tremendous damage to wings, engine, and fuselage yet carry itself and pilot safely back home. The Royal Air Force (RAF) received two hundred and forty Thunderbolt Mk Is (early P-47D) and five and ninety Mk IIs (later P-47D).

The most numerous model, the P-47D which initially was but a refined version of the C. To this configuration, Republic factories manufactured five thousand for hundred and twenty-three P-47Ds and Curtiss a further three hundred and fifty-four which were designated P-47G. A major design change was then introduced, on the P-47D-25 and subsequent batches, in which the cockpit view was vastly improved by cutting down the rear fuselage and fitting the ‘teardrop’ canopy. The weight thus saved also allowed extra fuel to be carried, but production batches from P-47D-27 onward required a dorsal fin fairing to offset the ‘missing’ keel area of the slimmer rear fuselage. Eight thousand one hundred and seventy-nine bubble-canopied P-47Ds were completed at Farmingdale and Evansville, and this model served widely both as a fighter and fighter-bomber, especially with the USAAF in Europe.

Overall Republic P-47 Thunderbolt production, which ended in December 1945, totalled fifteen thousand six hundred and sixty aircraft. About two-thirds of these survived the war, after which Thunderbolts found their way into numerous air forces a few were still in service until the late 1960s.

Republic P-47 (Turbobolt)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/13/2018 | Content © | The following text is exclusive to this site.

By the end of 1944, the Germans had pushed the Messerschmitt Me 262 "Schwalbe" into operational service, giving German pilots a decided edge in the skies over Europe. This prompted American authorities to expedite work on their own jet-powered types. However, traditional long-term development was not favored so the route of converting an existing airframe was entertained in an effort to bring the jet fighter into service as quickly as possible. One endeavor emerged from Republic whose P-47 "Thunderbolt" had already entrenched its legacy in the years-long war.

The P-47 seemed a natural choice because of its oversized fuselage housing the massive and powerful Pratt & Whitney R-2800 "Double Wasp" series radial piston engine. The Republic product itself was a workhorse and excellent gunnery platform while also being used in the attack role by way of dropping bombs and launching rockets. The "tear-drop" style canopy gave its sole pilot excellent vision for a combat fighter and the inherent performance of the aircraft as a whole was equally excellent - capable of going toe-to-toe with the latest Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Focke-Wulf Fw 190 prop-driven designs coming out of German factories.

Initially, engineers were called to fit the General Electric J31 centrifugal compressor turbojet engine into the aircraft in place of the R-2800. This jet engine was the same as used in the upcoming Bell P-59 "Airacomet" fighter as well as the Ryan FR "Fireball" mixed-power fighter and could generate up to 1,650 lb of thrust. In theory the mating seemed viable but it was soon found that, despite the large diameter of the P-47's existing fuselage, it was still not large enough to accommodate the J31 engine without much modification to the structure - thus delaying testing and service entry. From there came the decision to replace the J31 with the Allison J35 (about 4,000lb of thrust), this engine originally developed by General Electric as well. This engine would also soon power the classic Republic F-84 "Thunderjet" and Northrop F-89 "Scorpion" lines of the Cold War years (1947-1991) and its size was better suited to the P-47's airframe so work began to redraw the lines of the aircraft.

Because the R-2800 and its propeller were situated at the nose, their removal cleared the section for a nose-mounted intake and armament. The intake aspirated the J35 unit through a curved duct assembly running under the cockpit floor. The J35 would be buried under the pilot's position, promoting a deeper fuselage than even the original P-47 had. Exhausting of the turbojet was through a simple port found under the tail fin. The 8 x 0.50 caliber Browning heavy machine guns originally mounted to the wings (four per wing) were now relocated to the nose for better concentrated firepower. The elliptical wings of the P-47 were retained as were the rounded tailplanes featuring a single vertical fin. It is assumed that the original tail-dragger undercarriage would have been retained as well.

Nevertheless, this proposed turbojet-powered P-47 (no formal name or model designator was ever assigned to the "paper" project) never made it beyond some concept drawings commissioned by Republic. In the end, the mating of the J31 with the P-47 airframe was not meant to be for it was becoming an impractical exercise best left to the imagination. There were also ongoing concerns about the imbalance that the engine would have caused on an aircraft originally intended to feature its mass at the front. Engineers also realized that the P-47 airframe, as it was, stood to gain very little in terms of performance for it was already nearing its maximum specs even with its R-2800 in place.

As such, the P-47 offshoot never emerged into a realistic prospect leaving the USAAF to pursue the traditional design and development route for its first jet - which became the mildly successful P-59 from Bell.

Performance and structural dimensions reported on this page are estimates on the part of the author.

Republic P-47B Thunderbolt - History

The website is dedicated to preserving the memories of the men and women who flew the P-47 Thunderbolt "Jug" in World War II. Browse our site and learn what it was like to fly one of the most destructive aircraft in WWII.

Hear combat stories about dive bombing, strafing, aerial dog fights, and getting shot down right from the pilots. Read pilot biographies . Remember our fallen comrades. And interact with pilots and enthusiasts in our Message Boards . Experience the P-47 like you never have before! was founded by the P-47 Thunderbolt Pilots Association. The P-47 Thunderbolt Pilots Association disbanded in 2006. However, this website will remain and continue to grow as a perpetual resource and memory for generations to come. is in the care of William Frederico from Logic Mountain. We encourage anyone with stories, photos, or artifacts surrounding the P47 and her pilots to contact us at [email protected]

The P-47 Thunderbolt Pilots Association was made up of people who flew the airplane prior to 1956, when it was taken out of Air Force service. The organization was formed after Republic Aircraft, who built the P-47s, hosted a reunion for 873 pilots in May, 1961 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first Thunderbolt flight in May, 1941.

The purpose of the organization was to venerate and perpetuate the memory of the P-47 and it's pilots. It served to continue the comradeship of the pilots who flew the Thunderbolt, the most successful bomber of World War II. In pure essence, the Association represented a love affair between an airplane and those who flew it. The Association published a Jug letter quarterly and held an annual reunion in a different city in the U.S.A. Reunions have also been held in London and twice in Paris.

Membership in the Association was limited to those who flew the Jug (its long time affectionate nick-name) prior to 1956. The members were made up of combat pilots and Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). The Association published several books and videos about the airplane and its pilots. There are 1850 Thunderbolt pilots currently enrolled.

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was the largest, heaviest, and most expensive fighter aircraft in history to be powered by a Radial Piston Engine. It was heavily armed with eight .50-caliber machine guns, four per wing. When fully loaded, the P-47 weighed up to eight tons, and in the fighter-bomber ground-attack roles could carry five-inch rockets or a significant bomb load of 2,500 pounds it could carry over half the payload of the B-17 bomber on long-range missions (although the B-17 had a far greater range). The P-47, based on the powerful Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine, was to be very effective as a short-to-medium range escort fighter in high-altitude air-to-air combat and, when unleashed as a fighter-bomber, proved especially adept at ground attack in both the World War II European and Pacific Theaters.

The P-47 was one of the main United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) fighters of World War II, and served with other Allied air forces, notably those of France, Britain, and Russia. Mexican and Brazilian squadrons fighting alongside the U.S. were equipped with the P-47.

The armored cockpit was roomy inside, comfortable for the pilot, and offered good visibility. A modern-day U.S. ground-attack aircraft, the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, takes its name from the P-47.

The P-47 Thunderbolt was a design of Georgian immigrant Alexander Kartveli, and was to replace the Seversky P-35 that was developed earlier by Russian immigrant Alexander P. de Seversky born in the same place as Kartveli: Tbilisi, Georgia. Both had left their homeland to escape the Bolsheviks.

P-43 Lancer / XP-47B American pre-war fighter Republic P-43 Lancer

P-47 firing its M2 machine guns during night gunnery

In 1939, Republic Aviation designed the AP-4 demonstrator powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1830 radial engine with a belly-mounted turbocharger. While the resulting Republic P-43 Lancer was in limited production, Republic had been working on an improved P-44 Rocket with a more powerful engine, as well as on a fighter designated the AP-10. The latter was a lightweight aircraft powered by the Allison V-1710 liquid-cooled V-12 engine and armed with eight .50 in M2 Browning machine guns. The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) backed the project and gave it the designation XP-47.

As the war in Europe escalated in spring 1940, Republic and the USAAC concluded that the XP-44 and the XP-47 were inferior to the German fighters. Republic unsuccessfully attempted to improve the design, proposing the XP-47A. Kartveli subsequently came up with an all-new and much larger fighter which was offered to the USAAC in June 1940. The Air Corps ordered a prototype in September, to be designated the XP-47B. The XP-47A, which had almost nothing in common with the new design, was abandoned.

The XP-47B was of all-metal construction (except for the fabric-covered tail control surfaces) with elliptical wings, with a straight leading edge that was slightly swept back. The cockpit was roomy and the pilot’s seat was comfortable—”like a lounge chair”, as one pilot later put it. The pilot was provided with every convenience, including cabin air conditioning. The canopy doors hinged upward. Main and auxiliary self-sealing fuel tanks were placed under the cockpit, giving a total fuel capacity of 305 U.S. gal .

A P-47 engine with the cowling removed.

Power came from a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp two-row 18-cylinder radial engine producing 2,000 hp , the same engine that would power the prototype Vought XF4U-1 fighter in October 1940 – with the Double Wasp on the XP-47B turning a four-bladed Curtiss electric constant-speed propeller of 146 in, in diameter. The loss of the AP-4 prototype to an engine fire ended Kartveli’s experiments with tight-fitting cowlings, so the engine was placed in a broad cowling that opened at the front in a “horse collar”-shaped ellipse. The cowling admitted cooling air for the engine, left and right oil coolers, and the turbo supercharger intercooler system. The engine exhaust gases were routed into a pair of waste gate-equipped pipes that ran along each side of the cockpit to drive the turbo supercharger turbine at the bottom of the fuselage about halfway between cockpit and tail. At full power, the pipes glowed red at their forward ends and the turbine spun at 21,300 rpm. The complicated turbo supercharger system with its ductwork gave the XP-47B a deep fuselage, and the wings had to be mounted in a relatively high position. This was problematic since long landing gear was needed to provide ground clearance for the propeller. To reduce the size and weight of the long landing gear and so that wing-mounted machine guns could be fitted, each main gear strut was fitted with a mechanism by which it telescoped out 9 in when extended.

The XP-47B was a very large aircraft for its time with an empty weight of 9,900 lb., or 65% more than the YP-43. Kartveli is said to have remarked, “It will be a dinosaur, but it will be a dinosaur with good proportions. The armament consisted of eight .50 caliber “light-barrel “Browning AN/M2 machine guns, four in each wing. The guns were staggered to allow feeding from side-by-side ammunition boxes, each with a 350-round capacity. Although the British already possessed eight-gun fighters, the Hurricane and the Spitfire, and even the 12-gun Typhoon, they used smaller-caliber 0.303 in machine guns.

The XP-47B first flew on 6 May 1941 with Lowry P. Brabham at the controls. Although there were minor problems, such as some cockpit smoke that turned out to be due to an oil drip, the aircraft proved impressive in its first trials. It was eventually lost in an accident on 8 August 1942, but before that mishap, the prototype had achieved a level speed of 412 mph at 25,800 ft. altitude, and had demonstrated a climb from sea level to 15,000 ft. altitude in five minutes.


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Watch the video: Republic P-47D Thunderbolt (November 2022).

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