Republic P-47D Thunderbolt (Jug)
FIREPOWER
10
MANEUVERABILITY
3
CLIMB RATE
5
DURABILITY
7
SPEED
8
GROUND ATTACK
5

Crew
1
Primary Guns
4 x Browning M2 0.5" (12.7mm) machine guns with 425 rpg in wings
Secondary Guns
4 x Browning M2 0.5" (12.7mm) machine guns with 425 rpg in wings.
Defensive Guns
Ordnance
1 x 250 lb (113 kg) or 1 x 500 lb (227 kg) or 1 x 1,000 lb (454 kg) bomb or 1 x 1200 lb (544 kg) drop tank under fuselage, plus 2 x 250 lb (113 kg) or 2 x 500 lb (227 kg) or 2 x 1,000 lb (454 kg) or 2 x 450 lb (204 kg) drop tanks or 10 x 138 lb 5" HVAR A2G rockets under wing. Total of 2,580 lbs (1170 kg) of external stores.
Engine(s)
1 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-59 radial two-row engine rated for 2,300 hp at sea level (2,535 hp with WEP).
Int Fuel Capacity
1,944 lbs (882 kg).
Ext Fuel Capacity
1,200 lbs (544 kg) under fuselage and / or 2 x 450 lbs (204 kg) under wing, total of 2,100 lbs (952 kg) in 3 drop tanks.
Maximum Speeds
350 mph (563 kph) at sea level, 426 mph (686 kph) at 30,000 ft (9144 m).
Climb Rate
2,780 ft.per minute (847 m/min), 5.6 min to 15,000 ft (4572 m).
Service Ceiling
42,000 ft (12,802 m).
Range
950 – 1,800 miles (1,529 – 2,896 km).
Wingspan
40 ft 9.25 in (12.43 m).
Length
36 ft 1.75 in (11.01 m).
Height
14 ft 7 in (4.45 m).
Loaded Weight
14,000 lbs (6350 kg).
Wing Area
300 sq ft (27.9 sq m).
Wing Loading
46.7 lbs/sq ft (227.6 kg/sq m).

History

The P-47 Thunderbolt, affectionately known as the “Jug” by its pilots, was the evolutionary pinnacle of the aircraft designed by Alexander De Seversky and Alexander Kartveli. De Seversky was a brilliant engineer who had served in the Russian air force in World War I. Despite losing a leg in a bomber crash, he went on to shoot down 13 German planes before he was delegated to serve on the Russian Naval Mission to the United States. Following the Revolution of 1917, he defected to the US and finally earned his citizenship in 1927.

Having already served as an adviser to General Billy Mitchell and consulting engineer for the US War Department, De Seversky, formed his own aircraft engineering company, the Seversky Aircraft Corporation, in 1931. Known as “Sasha” to his friends, he served as president, designer, and chief test pilot and was virtually a one-man company until he hired fellow émigré Kartveli, who became the chief designer of the company.

The first military aircraft produced by Seversky was the BT-8 trainer, but a lack of power led to it be dropped in favor of North American’s BT-9, which evolved into the excellent T-6 Texan. Their next effort was the P-35, which beat our Curtiss’ P-36 Hawk for an army contract. With the Army looking for an improvement to the P-35, Kartveli combined Boeing’s new turbo-supercharger with a Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engine to form the YP-43 Lancer, which was capable of reaching a speed of 350 mph and an altitude of 38,000 feet. Production series of Republic P-43 Lancer were delivered to Army Air Corps in 1941 (SAC changed its name to Republic in 1939), while developments of better performing fighter with more powerful engine were underway.

The XP-47 was initially designed as a streamlined, small, lightweight fighter built around the Allison V-1710 inline engine, but the overall performance figures were outdated by European fighter standards. Kartveli then decided to design the plane around a turbo-supercharged P&W R-2800 two-row radial engine rated for 2,000 hp. The resulting design was given the XP-47B designation by the Army. Deliveries of production P-47B to USAAF began in 1942.

With its limited internal fuel capacity, the P-47B was unable to penetrate German airspace for very long, so in the “C” model a ventral drop tank/bomb mount was added, increasing range by about 50%. The “D” model introduced another pair of hard points under the wings, stressed to carry up to 1,000 lbs. each. Alternatively, ten 5″ HVAR rockets could be mounted on zero-length launchers under the wings in place of bombs or drop tanks.

Mid-way through production of the P-47D, a new “bubble” canopy was installed, which gave the pilot much better vision all around, particularly to the rear. Water injection and a newer “paddle-blade” propeller increased overall top speed and climb-rate. Eventually the Thunderbolt was replaced by the P-51 Mustang as the principal escort fighter, which allowed the Jugs to concentrate on ground attack missions, a role to which they took like a fish to water.

Featuring eight .50 caliber machine guns in the wings, the Jug was the heaviest armed fighter in the US inventory, and could slug it out with the heavy cannon armed fighters the Axis put into the sky. Although it could neither climb nor maneuver with Luftwaffe aircraft, nothing could dive faster than the P-47, a fact that saved many a pilot’s life.

Strengths

  1. Durability — No other single-engine fighter could absorb punishment like the P-47.
  2. Guns — Its eight .50 caliber machine guns gave the Jug one of the heaviest and most sustained fighter armaments of the war.
  3. Speed — With a top speed of over 425 mph, the P-47D was one of the fastest prop fighters of the war.
  4. Ground Attack — Capable of carrying over 2,000 lbs. of bombs and/or rockets, the P-47 was a deadly “ground pounder”.
  5. Roll Rate — The P-47s fast rate of roll allowed it to compete with more maneuverable fighters,

Weakness

  1. Maneuverability — With a gross weight of over 14,000 lbs. the Jug was hardly a nimble dogfighter.
  2. Acceleration — The big fighter takes a while to get up to speed.
  3. Climb Rate — As with acceleration and maneuverability, the Jug’s large size kept it from climbing as fast as some of its contemporaries.

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