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P-47 Thunderbolt

Specifications (P-47D):
  • Engine: 2535hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-59W Double Wasp radial piston engine.
  • Weight: Empty 9,950 lbs.
  • Maximum Takeoff 17,500 lbs.
  • Wing Span: 40ft. 9.25in.
  • Length: 36ft. 1.75in.
  • Height: 14ft. 8in.
  • Performance: Maximum Speed: 433 mph
  • Ceiling: 41,000 ft.
  • Range: 1900 miles with drop tanks
  • Armament: Eight 12.7mm (0.5 in.) wing-mounted machine guns Up to 2500 lbs. of externally-mounted bombs, rockets, or other free-fall ordinance.

Out of the grand total of 15,660 P-47 Thunderbolts produced for the US Army Air Corps during World War Two, perhaps the least known operational versions were the Curtiss-built P-47Gs.

In order to meet expanded wartime production goals for the P-47D Thunderbolt, the New York-based Republic Aviation Company built a second plant in Evansvile, Indiana and also licensed the Curtiss-Wright Company to produce the aeroplane under the P-47G designation. Between December 1942 and March 1944 Curtiss-Wright produced a total of 354 P-47G Thunderbolts which were identical to the Republic-built “razorback” P-47D models.

Republic Aviation’s P-47 Thunderbolt, also known as the “Jug”, was the largest, heaviest, and most expensive fighter aircraft in history to be powered by a single reciprocating engine. It was heavily armed with eight .50-caliber machine guns, four per wing.

When fully loaded, the P-47 Thunderbolt weighed up to eight tons, and in the fighter-bomber ground attack roles could carry five inch rockets and or a significant bomb load of 2,500 pounds—over half the weight the famous B-17 bomber could carry on long-range missions.

The P-47 Thunderbolt, 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 WW-II European and Pacific Theaters.

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

The sturdy and rugged aircraft was designed by Alexander de Seversky and Alexander Kartveli, emigres from the Russian Empire. 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 Thunderbolt.

P-47D-40 Thunderbolt “Nellie”
Thunderbolt P-47D 42-74742 “Snafu”)
P-47D-40 Thunderbolt 44-95471

P-47D-40  Thunderbolt N47DD -“Nellie”

Nellie was built in 1945 at Republic’s Evansville factory in Indiana. Serial No. 45-49192 the aircraft was built originally as a P-47D-40-RA. Detail of its service with the USAAF is not known, although it did serve with the Air Training Command during the last few months of the War, and was eventually stored at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma with the Air Material Command.

She was restored to full operational status at Hensley Field in Texas in 1952, after the Rio Pact had been signed by the USA, and was assigned to the Military Assistance Program in September of that year.

In 1953 she formed part of a group of P47’s which found their way to the Peruvian Air Force

 Six Thunderbolts, number 119 among them, were stored in the open at the Piura Air Base until 1969.

Each of the aircraft was given a new FAA registration, Nellie being allocated N47DD. The CAF had N47DA (Peruvian 114) in the air on the 26th August 1971, after four months of reassembly.

The 2nd of December the same year saw N47DB airborne again and by February 1974. N47DD wore the colours of a 12th Air Force machine, from the 86th Fighter Group, 527th Fighter Squadron, which was based in Italy during the war.

In April of 1975 she was sold and flown to Barstow-Dagget Airport where she was stored in the open for some time.

N47DD was delivered to the Kansas Wing of the YAF, at Forbes Field in Topeka, in February of 1977. The silver paint applied by the CAF had worn and the Peruvian markings were showing through and the aircraft was looking rather disheveled. The airframe was stripped to bare metal by a team of volunteers, and the scheme and markings of Col David Schilling from the 56th FG, 62nd FS, were applied with the aircraft forming the star exhibit in the new YAF museum at Forbes field, which opened on July 2nd 1977. Two and a half years later, in January 1980, N47DD was sold to a B-52 pilot from Texas. .

After some preparation, N47DD left Kansas on the 8th February 1980 bound for Del Rio, Texas. The following morning, the engine refused to develop sufficient power to take off normally, and then failed completely leaving the ferry pilot no option but to force land in a field about half a mile from the end of the runway. Nellie was badly damaged. Robin Collard intended to restore the aircraft to flying condition, although in June of 1980 all the parts, the two fuselages and the complete project were sold to Jon Ward. Everything was then shipped out to Truckee-Tahoe airport in Nevada, where the massive rebuild job was started. Four years later, the project was sold on again, this time to Ward’s friend, Jim Kirby who, in turn, parted with it, to the benefit of The Fighter Collection, in late 1984.

The aircraft was sent to Steve Hinton’s Fighter Rebuilders in Chino, California.  With an overhauled P& W 2800 engine installed, and the metal work, systems fit and testing completed, in August 1985 the aircraft flew again for the first time since the crash of February 1980. It appeared at the 1985 Gathering of Warbirds at Medera, CA, USA in the hands of Steve Hinton himself. It was disassembled for shipping to the UK in October the same year and arrived at The Fighter Collection, Duxford on the 22nd of January 1986. Sold to Claire Aviation Inc and shipped to the USA in 01.03.2007. Returned to the UK in 2018 and operated by Fighter Aviation Engineering LTD.

Thunderbolt P-47D 42-74742 “Snafu”

Curtiss built Republic P-47G/42-25068 rolled off the Buffalo, New York production line in early 1944 and entered USAAF service in September 1944 with the 3rd Air Force at Tallahassee, Florida and was redesignated as a TP-47G for the training role it undertook with a number of Advanced Fighter Transition Units.

Eventually Struck off Charge in June 1945 but in retirement P-47G/42-25068 continued its training role as it passed the Aero Industries Technical Institute at Oakland Airport, California in 1946 where it was used to teach hydraulic and electrical systems to aeronautical students.

From 1952 to 1975 Jack Hardwick, a former Cleveland National Air Race pilot, was her new owner. During that time  P-47G/42-25068 was rented out from time top time and appeared in the 1953 film ‘Fighter Attack’ and to Flying Tiger as ground engine test rig. from 1955 it was stored in Jack Hardwicks yard at El Monte, CA, In 1975, TP-47G/42-25068 was acquired by Eagle Aviation, Tulsa, OK, where restoration begun before passing on to Hurley Boehlers/Sirrus Aviation, Tulsa, and then acquired by  Ray Stutsman, Elkhart, Indiana, in December 1979.

TP-47G/42-25068 was registered as N42354 in May 1981 and then as N47DG, February 1982. N47DG had its first post restoration flight in April 1982 and flown as 28476/’Little Demon’ and won the Grand Champion Warbird trophy at Oshkosh in July that year before passing to the Lone Star Flight Museum, based at Galveston, Texas in 1987. In 1996 it was acquired by Flying A Services, North Weald and shipped to the UK and initially stored at Earls Colne and then moved, still in its container, to North Weald and then in 2004 to Greenham Common. With its US civil registration of N47DG expiring in July 2000, TP-47G/42-25068 was acquired and delivered to The Fighter Collection, still in its container, in June 2006.

It acquired the UK registration of G-CDVX in February 2006. In September 2006, the fuselage was shipped to Chino, California for restoration and returned in July 2008. By November 2011, P-47G/42-25068 had been repainted as USAAF 225068/WZ-D/ ‘Snafu’ of the 84th Fighter Squadron as flown by Lt Severino B Calderon in late 1944. ‘Snafu’ had its second post restoration flight on the 15th June 2012.

She is a Razorback variant. Dark green fuselage, black-and-white checkerboard cowling, invasion stripes on upper and lower wings and rear fuselage, white bands on horizontal stabilizers and fin, aircraft code WZ-D.  She is operated out of Houston, Texas.