The P-47 Republic Thunderbolt was designed by Alexander Seversky and Alexander Kartveli, two Russian engineers, who came to the USA after the October Revolution, and was manufactured by The Republic Aviation Corporation USA.15,700 planes were produced, starting in March, 1942.

The P-47 parked up in a Hanger

The P-47, often referred to as The Jug by its pilots because of its shape, was designed around the Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp 2000 horsepower radial engine, which was the most powerful fighter engine in the USA at the time.

P-47 in flight. 

    

The P-47 engine was also fitted with a powerful turbine super charging unit to get maximum engine torque and with such a powerful combination allowed this plane to out-perform any German fighter even at altitudes of 30,000ft. As a low altitude fighter the plane also did remarkably well, with a good turning circle and fast level flight speed .

 P-47 engine with cowling removed

        

The actual blueprint for the supercharger unit.

Also the P-47 could mete out a lot of damage to its victims due to its heavy duty firepower. (see specifications below) A burst from its heavy caliber machine guns would pulverize any enemy plane in its sights.

More enemy aircraft were destroyed in aerial combat by the Thunderbolt-equipped Fifty-sixth Fighter Group than any other group in the Eight Air Force. In fact the P-47 shot down over 4000 enemy planes in WWII.

On the down side the P-47 suffered from a poor accelerated rate of climb due to its size, even though it had the worlds most powerful fighter engine, this was made up for however by a fantastic diving ability.

P-47's Cockpit.

 

It was a friendly plane to fly and was a popular amongst those who flew her. Reliability and robustness were the planes watchwords. It had the ability to receive a lot of damage to the engine, (being air-cooled) and to the air frame and still continue flying. Most fighters of the day were water-cooled and any hits into the cooling system would cripple the average plane.

Below is a testimonial to this planes toughness by WWII fighter ace   R. S. Johnson, who had 27 confirmed kills with the P-47.

One day in late June, 1943, Johnson's Thunderbolt was attacked early in the mission by a Fw 190 and  helplessly subjected to its machine gun fire. Somehow, incredibly, the P-47 absorbed this battering from the German guns and made it back. After the injured Johnson had landed his plane at the Manston emergency strip, he surveyed the damage it had taken, and later described the result in his autobiography; Thunderbolt!:By Robert S Johnson.

" There are twenty-one gaping holes and jagged tears in the metal from exploding 20mm cannon shells. I'm still standing in one place when my count of bullet holes reaches past a hundred; there's no use even trying to add them all. The Thunderbolt is literally a sieve, holes through the wings, fuselage and tail. Every square foot, it seems is covered with holes.

There are five holes in the propeller. Three 20mm cannon shells burst against the armor plate, a scant inch away from my head. Five cannon shell holes in the right wing; four in the left wing. Two cannon shells blasted away the lower half of my rudder. One shell exploded in the cockpit, next to my left hand; this is the blast that ripped away the flap handle. More holes appeared along the fuselage and in the tail. Behind the cockpit, the metal is twisted and curled; this had jammed the canopy, trapping me inside. The airplane had done her best. Needless to say, she would never fly again. "

Recommended Reading (available from Amazon.co.uk): P-47 Thunderbolt Aces of the Eighth Air Force

Specifications:

Armament..........8 wing mounted .50 caliber Browning machine guns.

     note: This is tremendous firepower for a fighter aircraft.

The P-47s machine guns

Onboard Ammunition..........300 rounds per gun.

Rate of fire..........750 rounds per minute.

Muzzle velocity..........2,850 feet per second

Wing span.........40 feet 9 inches

Length..........36 feet 1 inch

Height.......... 14 feet 2 inches

Engine..........18 cylinder Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp R-2800

Maximum speed..........Model C, 419 mph.     Model D, 436 mph

Cruise speed..........Model C & D around 275- 285 mph.

Maximum Operating Ceiling..........Model C & D, 40,000- 41,000 feet.

Fuel tank maximum capacity.....Model C, 305 Gallons.     Model D, 370 Gallons

Horsepower..........Model C, 2,300hp.     Model D, 2,600hp

HEROIC THUNDERBOLT

In 1944 a P47 Republic Thunderbolt had just taken off from an airfield in Britain but the plane lost control in flight and crashed into a field.  The pilot was killed on impact of the plane crashing into the field.  Many years later some wreckage of the plane was unearthed and consequently a plaque was placed up the commemorate the brave pilot who lost his life on that fateful day.

The images further below are of the remains of a P-47 Republic Thunderbolt that a pilot by the name of Lieutenant Jay F Simpson was flying.  He was test flying it when for unknown reasons he lost control and the plane crashed into fields near Moreton, Wirral, Merseyside, on January 9th 1944.

 

It flipped over in the air and burst into flames, but Jay didn't attempt to bale out or let it crash onto houses, instead the brave pilot righted it as best he could and steered it away crashing into fields just outside of the residential area.

Jay could possibly have bailed out, as to stay with the plane was certain death, he chose to stay with the plane.  His unopened parachute was found with the wreckage in 1974. He had taken off from Burtonwood Airbase, Lancashire, earlier.  The final remains of this P-47 were dug up in 1994 and are now on display in Fort Perch, New Brighton, Wallasey, England.

The photos below are primarily of the engine remains. That I took when I visited the museum.  The fuselage would have disintegrated, blown up into thousands of tiny bits that could not be salvaged.  Also any remainder of the plane on the surface would have been cleared up at the time or later scavenged by locals.

Picture 1 shows the side view, the damage to the engine is vividly apparent.  There isn't a straight undamaged part to be seen, the force of the impact completely smashing the engine.

1.

Picture 2  shows a view of the front of the engine and the propellers that were re-assembled and fixed back on after being dug up.  The propellers were also straightened out before being re-assembled back on the engine.  The smash would have buckled and mangled them up a lot worse than is depicted here.

 2.

Picture 3 shows some of the protruding pistons.  With the way the pistons are sticking out of the cylinder block we can only assume that the engine blew up.  It either blew up in flight or upon impact.

3.

Picture 4 we can see a closer view of the pistons that hang hap-hazard out of the engine.  The impact and ensuing explosion must have been quite terrific as Jays plane drilled its way into the ground when it crashed, the engine driving its way deep down into the soft earth.

 4.

A hero and his plane.

Above is a photo of brave and heroic pilot Lieutenant Jay F Simpson, who was from a town called Gillett, in Wisconsin, U.S.A.  Rest In Peace Jay, Thank you for your efforts in World War Two.

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Page created June 2001.  Updated September 29th 2012