Monday, January 16, 2012


P-47 Thunderbolt, 'Jug'
C L I C K     T O     E N L A R G E

Pilots called it the Jug.  Public Relation types would have you believe its short for juggernaut.  Don't believe it.  Its a big, stout plane that reminds people of a jug... as in a jug of brew.  It was the brainchild of a couple of Russian immigrants.  Alexander Seversky founded the company that was to become Republic Aviation and his design engineer, Alexander Kartveli, believed in planes having size and strength.  The P-47 was the largest single seat prop fighter ever made, with a reputation for bringing its pilot home despite tremendous damage.    
Picture:  1024 x 768 at 377 dpi - Scenic Reflections

Crew:                    1

Power:                  Pratt & Whitney 2535 hp R-2800-59 
                              Double-Wasp 18 cylinder radial engine

Max. Speed:        697 kph / 433 mph
Ceiling:                 12,495 m / 41,000 ft
Range:                 3060 km / 1900 miles with three drop tanks
Climb:                  976 m / 3200 ft per minute

Weight -
Empty:                 4513 kg / 9950 lb
Max. Take Off:    7938 kg / 17,500 lb

Size -
Wingspan:          12.4 m / 40 ft 9 in
Wing Area:         27.87 sq m / 300 sq ft
Length:                11.02 m / 36 ft 1 in
Height:                 4.47 m / 14 ft 8 in

                            8 - 12.7 mm / 0.5 in machine guns
                            1134 kg / 2500 lb bombs and rockets

Invasion stripes made is easier for Allied troops on the European continent in 1944 to quickly determine friend from foe.  The rugged P-47 was second to none in the ground support role.  Its size and weight made it less agile as a fighter than the Me-109 and FW-190.  Its thirst for fuel made it less suitable as a long range escort fighter than the P-51 Mustang.  But when war broke out in Korea in 1950 they scoured the land hoping to find P-47s to be their fighter-bomber and, finding too few, had to settle for the less durable and somewhat fickle Mustang to fill the need.  
Picture:  1152 x 864 - Reddit

Prior to the introduction of the P-47D to Europe in April, 1943 there had been a number of engineering problems still needing resolution, particularly with its massive 2,500 hp air cooled engine.  The plane had to be built to the scale of the powerplant and its twelve foot diameter propeller.  It was not a fighter designed for close-in-turning dogfights so pilots relied upon brute speed and devastating firepower.  
Picture:  1280 x 925 at 300 dpi - World War II Vehicles

Taking an idea from the British Spitfire both the P-51 Mustang and the P-47D modified their design to incorporate a bubble canopy to eliminate their Razorback design blind spot.  The P-47D also improved the armor protecting the pilot.  A third drop tank was added to the two already available for the wings but the additional fuel still wasn't enough for many escort duties with the B-29 in the Pacific.  A larger P-47N was introduced in 1945 to hold additional fuel but its ungainly size and weight made it unsuitable to fill the fighter role.
Picture:  1500 x 1079 at 150 dpi - NASA           

The most vulnerable position for a pilot could well be his 6 o'clock, that which is directly behind him.  This early Razorback design guarantees this to be a blind spot.  Dogfights usually last only a handful of seconds with the pilot that sees the other pilot first the most likely to come away alive.  Experience quickly dictated the bubble canopy.
Picture:  1024 x 768 at 96 dpi - Scenic Reflections

Believing the war to be won the Army Air Force's commanding officer, General Arnold, ordered all planes to remain unpainted, without the normal camouflage coloring.  It was intended as a statement of confidence to enemy and allies alike.  The order took effect in the fall of 1943.     
Picture:  450 x 305 at 75 dpi - How It Flies   

The technique for a strafing mission was to weave and turn continually.  With targets being primarily on the ground the eight wing-mounted machine guns were sighted to converge at roughly a thousand meters or yards.  In the European Theater P-47s were credited with destroying 6,000 armored vehicles and 9,000 locomotives.  If those numbers are accurate it's hard to imagine much moving on rail by 1945.
Picture:  500 x 332 at 300 dpi - Aviation Spectator  

A plane just off the design board can be a performance champion.  Then they need to be equipped for combat - armor protection, bullet-sealing fuel tanks, large guns and ammunition, plenty of fuel for range, wing pylons, drop tanks, bombs and rockets.  Now your warbird is beginning to lumber and, without a turbocharger, the engine is definitely wheezing for air.  To keep the Japanese Zero a fast, agile dogfighter it went without many of these items including armor protection and self-sealing tanks.  Expert pilots made the Zero deadly.  Inexperienced pilots found it an unforgiving deathtrap.
Picture:  2807 x 1394 at 314 dpi - Daniel D. Eubank    

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