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P-47 Thunderbolt, U.S. Fighter


Photograph of P-47 Thunderbolt

U.S. Air Force


Republic P-47D Thunderbolt


Specifications:


Crew 1
Dimensions 40’9.25” by 36’1.25” by 14’2”
12.43m by 11.00m by 4.32m
Wing area 300 square feet
27.9 square meters
Weight 10,700-19,400 lbs
4850-8800 kg
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
491 km/h
Landing speed 100 mph
161 km/h
Climb rate 30 feet per second
9.1 meters per second
Service ceiling 42,500 feet
13,000 meters
Power plant 1 2300 hp (1715 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-59 Double Wasp 18-cylinder two-row radial engine driving a four-blade propeller
Armament 8 0.50 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
Fuel 305 gallons
1155 liters
Production 15,660 of all types from 3/42 to 9/45 at Republic Aviation Corporation, Farmingdale, NY:

  1 XP-47B


171 P-47B


602 P-47C


12,602 P-47D


354 P-47G built by Curtiss-Wright (otherwise identical to the D)


1 XP-47J


130 P-47M


1816 P-47N
Variants

The P-47B used a 2000 hp (1491 kW) R-2800-21 engine and lacked provisions for a drop tank or bombs.

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 dogfighting in cramped but nimble fighters like the Spitfire, and the joke went around that the only way to take evasive maneuvers in a P-47 was to unstrap and run in circles in the cockpit. However, the P-47 excelled at the hit-and-run tactics that were already proving superior to traditional dogfighting. It could also carry a heavier bomb load than most 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 both 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 Pacific as well. Some remained in service with smaller air forces until the 1950s. About 28% of Thunderbolt crews were deployed to the Pacific.

References

AAFSD

Bodie (1991)

Gunston (1986)

Wilson (1998)



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