The much beloved Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, otherwise known as the “Jug” (due to the plane's resemblance to a milk jug), was one of the most successful Allied fighters of World War II. A monstrous aircraft, the P-47 roamed the skies over Europe and the Pacific destroying aircraft, tanks and rolling stock during daring low-level attacks over enemy territory. Built in large numbers and used by the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) and the Royal Air Force (RAF), the Thunderbolt proved equally effective at escorting B-29s over Japan or tank-busting in the Alpine valleys of Italy.
The P-47 design started in August 1939 as the AP-10, a small, lightweight, lightly armed fighter powered by an Allison in-line engine. As the air war over Europe progressed, the USAAF asked Republic to incorporate new items such as self-sealing gas tanks, armor plating for the pilot and heavier armament into the design. Republic realized that the new USAAF requirements could no longer be met by the AP-10's design, so they started over and built the XP-47B around the huge Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engine and an internal armament of eight .50 caliber machine guns.
The first three operational P-47 squadrons entered service in November 1942. In January of that year, the P-47 reached England and on April 8, 1943, P-47s flew their first B-17 escort mission over Europe. Combat showed that the P-47 was a capable escort fighter -- it was tough, maneuverable and packed a heavy punch. However, the plane's massive engine used fuel at a terrific rate, giving the P-47 a relatively short range (even with drop tanks and an improved fuel management system). As the war went on, the P-47 was largely replaced as an escort fighter by the P-51 Mustang. Freed from their escort duties, P-47s fitted with bombs and rockets were sent against tactical ground targets throughout Europe. The P-47's role as a close air support aircraft during the Allied advance toward Germany has become legendary.
The final production model of the P-47 was the “N” model. The P-47N was designed for very long range operations in the Pacific escorting B-29s. A P-47N fully loaded with 5-inch HVAR rockets, bombs and up to 710 gallons of fuel in external tanks weighed nearly 21,000 lbs., heavier than any other single engine fighter of World War II. The P-47N on display was built in 1945 and is painted in the colors of 1st. Lt. Oscar Perdomo of the 507th Fighter Group in the Pacific during the final days of World War II. Perdomo shot down five Japanese aircraft on the last day of WWII making him the last “Ace in a Day” of WWII. This aircraft is owned by the Commemorative Air Force and is based at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum.
|ENGINE||Pratt & Whitney R-2800-73 Double Wasp 2,800 h.p.|
|ARMAMENT||8 - .50 cal. machine guns & up to 3,000 lbs. of ordnance|
|WING SPAN||42 feet, 7 inches|
|LENGTH||36 feet, 1 inches|
|HEIGHT||14 feet, 8 inches|
|MAX TAKEOFF WEIGHT||20,700 pounds|
|TOTAL EXISTING||Approximately 60|
|MUSEUM'S AIRCRAFT BUILT||1945|
|IN STORAGE AT||Cavanaugh Flight Museum, Addison Airport (KADS), Dallas, Texas|
|MAXIMUM SPEED||505 m.p.h.|
|RANGE W/ EXTERNAL TANKS||2,350 miles|
|SERVICE CEILING||30,000 feet|