Tamiya 61090 AEREO P47-D THUNDERB. BUBBLETOP For Air Plastic Model Kits
In the entire history of military aviation, there has never been an airplane that could match the P-47 Thunderbolt for ruggedness and dependability. The pilots who flew it into combat called it "The Unbreakable" and "The plane that can do anything." They were not far from wrong. The P-47 Thunderbolt was, in a very indirect sense, a gift from Russia to the United States. The aircraft was the product of two Russian immigrants, Alexander De Seversky and Alexander Kartveli, who had left their homeland to seek their future in America.
The story of the P-47 began in the summer of 1940. At that time Republic was building the P-43 Lancer and had plans to produce a lightweight fighter designated the P-44 Rocket. In view of combat experience in Europe, however, the Air Corps decided that if the United States became involved in the war something larger and better than the P-44 would be required. Kartveli, who was now Republic's chief engineer, quickly prepared a rough sketch of a new fighter. It was a daring concept with the fuselage designed around the new Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp, 2,000 hp XR-2800-21 eighteen-cylinder twin bank radial engine combined with a high performance supercharger. This power plant by itself weighed more than a ton. It was largest and most powerful aircraft engine ever developed in the United States. He also envisioned that his plane would have eight .50-caliber machine guns and enough armor plating to protect the pilot from every direction. These features added up to an airplane weighing about 4,000 pounds more than any existing single-engined fighter.
The conventional three-bladed propeller could not efficiently utilize the power of the new engine and a four-bladed propeller was adopted. Incidentally, the P-47 served as the first test stand for this propeller. Although this propeller was an admirable solution to the power gearing of the engine, there remained the problem of providing sufficient ground clearance for its 12-foot diameter. Republic had to design a telescopic landing gear, which was nine inches shorter when retracted than when extended.
The heavy fighter was not an instant winner with the pilots that initially took it to combat. Low-altitude air-to-air combat was a problem until a paddle blade propeller was added, but high-altitude combat was a different story. The short range of the P-47 was a distinct handicap until the auxiliary fuel tanks were added. When it came to strafing and dive-bombing, the big P-47 excelled. Following D-Day, in France the Thunderbolts performed magnificently in ground support until the end of the war. P-47's often came back from combat shot full of holes, their wings and control surfaces in tatters. On one occasion a Thunderbolt pilot, Lieutenant Chetwood, hit a steel pole after strafing a train over Occupied France. The collision sliced four feet off one of his wings--yet he was able to fly back safely to his base in England. P-47's 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. Only 0.7 per cent of the fighters of this type dispatched against the enemy were to be lost in combat.
Few pilots were neutral about the Thunderbolt; they either hated it or loved it. On the negative side, there was the unpleasantly long take-off run, and the P-47 was not particularly maneuverable, though it was surprisingly agile at high altitudes. One Thunderbolt pilot compared it to flying a bathtub around the sky. A dead-stick landing with the P-47 was likely an unpleasant experience. On the positive side, it was rugged and well armed. It was a stable gun platform and its eight Brownings could pour out a heavy volume of lead, and pilots reported targets unlucky enough to be caught in a P-47's crosshairs as simply exploding or disintegrating. The Thunderbolt could also drop like a brick, which was an advantage in air battles. Luftwaffe pilots would find out that trying to break off combat and dive away was sheer suicide when fighting a Thunderbolt. The P-47 could easily reach 550MPH in a dive.
Though it was an excellent airplane in its initial B version, several improvements were made as production continued, each improvement adding power, maneuverability and range. As the war progressed, the "Jug," as it was affectionately called, gained a reputation as a reliable and extremely tough airplane, able to take incredible amounts of damage and still return its pilot home safely. P-47s were also used during the war by the air forces of Brazil, England, France, Mexico and the Soviet Union. The final version, the P-47N, was built primarily for use against the Japanese. The fastest model was the XP-47J, which did not go into production. Following the war, the Jug served for nine more years in the US, flown by the Air National Guard. It continued to serve for many additional years with the air forces of over 15 nations around the world.