The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was one of the most loved fighter planes of World War 2. It was affectionately nicknamed the “Jug” for Juggernaut and, perhaps, for the fighter plane’s rather rotund look.
P-47D BASIC STATISTICS
According to Weapons of World War II by Alexander Ludeke, the P-47D had the following characteristics:
Engine: Pratt & Whitney R2800 Double Wasp, 2535 horsepower
Armament: 8 .50 caliber machine guns, 2500 pounds of external weaponry.
Top Speed; 437 miles per hour at 25,400 feet
Operational Ceiling: 41,650 feet
Weight: 9,941 pounds empty, 17,500 pounds maximum takeoff weight
Dimensions: 36.7 feet long, 14.9 feet tall, 41.4 feet wingspan
The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt is the direct descendant of earlier Seversky P-35 pursuit aircraft of the late 1930s and the P-43 Lancer of 1940. The P-47 Thunderbolt fuselage clearly shows a resemblance to the P-35 and P-43 Lancer, but features inspired by combat experience and a much more powerful engine set the P-47 Thunderbolt apart as one of the best fighters of World War II. For example, the P-47 Thunderbolt had self-sealing fuel tanks and armor to protect the pilot.
The P-47 Thunderbolt was the most common Allied fighter and it helped establish Allied air superiority over Europe. According to WarbirdAlley.com, the P-47 was responsible for destroying at least 7000 enemy aircraft during World War II. Tough and versatile, it performed bomber escort missions, fighter sweeps, and ground attack missions.
The P-47 was big, fast heavy and tough. The P-47 had a reputation for absorbing tremendous amounts of damage and bringing its pilot home. According to a 1945 article in Industrial Aviation, “the pilot is protected from enemy gun fire by face hardened 3/8″ armor plate located in the forward and aft ends of the cockpit. The area above the front armor plate is protected by 1½” bullet resistant glass.” With the ability to carry up to 2500 of bombs or 5-inch rockets, the P-47 was a tremendous success as a ground attack aircraft. According to Aviation-History.com, “P-47s flew more than 546,000 combat sorties between March 1943 and August 1945, destroying 11,874 enemy aircraft, some 9,000 locomotives and about 6,000 armored vehicles and tanks.”
The P-47 was exceptionally fast in a dive. Tactically, P-47 pilots would climb to altitudes of 15,000 or more and dive down on lower flying targets, They would fire and continue diving down and away from their targets before climbing again to repeat the process. The high speed of the P-47 in a dive could be dangerous. Control surfaces could lock up due to high speed airflow over the wings and pilots could have difficulty pulling out of the dive. In addition, G forces could cause pilots to black out. Nevertheless, the P-47 had a low loss rate.
Range was the primary drawback to the P-47 Thunderbolt. While it dominated the skies over France, it did not have the range needed to escort bombers far into Germany. Once P-47 bomber escorts had to turn back for bases in England, the Luftwaffe inflicted tremendous casualties on American bombers. It took the P-51 Mustang to protect bombing missions effectively and establish air superiority over Germany.
According to warbirdalley.com, only 11 P-47 Thunderbolts are still flying today.
Alex, Dan. Republic P-47/F-47 Thunderbolt. MilitaryFactory.com.
Boyne, Walter J. Clash of Wings. Simon & Schuster, 1997.
Dwyer, Larry. Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, The Aviation History Online Museum
Ludeke, Alexander. Weapons of World War II, Parragon Press, Bath, UK, 2007.
Mastrangelo, Nicholas, “Design Analysis of the P-47 Thunderbolt,” Industrial Aviation, January 1945
Republic P-47 Thunderbolt” WarBirdAlley.com
Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, Aviation-History.com
Seversky P-35, National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
P-43 Lancer, Historywarsweapons.com