The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
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U.S. Air Force
Republic P-47D Thunderbolt
12.43m by 11.00m by 4.32m
|Wing area||300 square feet
27.9 square meters
|Maximum speed||433 mph (802 km/h) at 30,000
feet (9150 meters)
353 mph (654 km/h) at 5000 feet (1500 meters)
|Cruise speed||305 mph
|Landing speed||100 mph
|Climb rate||30 feet per second
9.1 meters per second
|Service ceiling||42,500 feet
|Power plant||1 2300 hp (1715 kW) Pratt
Double Wasp 18-cylinder two-row radial engine driving a four-blade
Colt-Browning M2 fixed wing machine guns with
267, 350, or 425 rounds each
|External stores||3 to 5 racks for up to 2500 lbs (1100 kg) of drop tanks, bombs, or 4.5" M8 rockets|
|Range||1000 miles (1600 km) on 305
gallons (1150 liters) internal fuel
1900 miles (3100 km) with 2 108-gallon (409 liter) drop tanks
|Production||15,660 of all types from 3/42 to 9/45 at Republic Aviation Corporation, Farmingdale, NY:|
|354||P-47G built by Curtiss-Wright (otherwise identical to the D)|
P-47B used a
2000 hp (1491 kW) R-2800-21
engine and lacked provisions for a drop tank or
The P-47C added drop tanks (but not bombs) and improved the maneuverability by shifting the engine slightly.
The P-47D introduced the bubble canopy.
The P-47N introduced the 2800 hp (2088 kW) R-2800-57 engine and increased the range to 2300 miles (3700 km.)
The P-47 Thunderbolt, also known as the “Jug,” was one of the best fighter-bombers of the war. Though huge for a fighter, it was very fast, had excellent high-altitude performance, could drop like a rock, had a surprisingly good roll rate for such a large airframe, and was extremely rugged, with its large air-cooled engine acting almost as a thick layer of armor protecting the pilot.
The design dated to 1940, when Republic's chief
engineer, Alexander Kartveli, scrapped existing plans for a lightweight
fighter, the P-10, and began designing a fighter built around the new
turbocharged R-2800 engine and incorporating the early war lessons of
the Allies in Europe. The
design proved challenging, particularly with respect to the long
landing gear required to give sufficient clearance for the large
propeller, and the prototype was not complete until 6 May 1941 and the
design was not approved for production until early 1942.
The fighter was initially met with
skepticism by RAF
pilots who were used to
cramped but nimble fighters like the Spitfire,
the joke went around that the only way to take evasive maneuvers in a
to unstrap and run in circles in the cockpit. However, the P-47
at the hit-and-run tactics that were already proving superior to
dogfighting. It could also carry a heavier bomb load than
light bombers could
at the start of the war. It had an effective combat radius of
almost 450 miles with two 108-gallon (409-liter) drop tanks.
The cost of production droppped from $105,594 in 1942 to $83,001 in 1945.
The Thunderbolt played
the roles of high-altitude escort and
low-level attack aircraft with success. Though its greatest
successes were in Europe
and the Mediterranean, it played a significant role in the Southwest
well. Some remained in service with smaller air forces until the 1950s.
About 28% of Thunderbolt crews were deployed to the Pacific.
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