James A. Beavers in front of P-47D 'Razerback' Thunderbolt

James A. Beavers in front of P-47D 'Razerback' Thunderbolt

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James A. Beavers in front of P-47D 'Razerback' Thunderbolt

Here we see James A. Beavers standing in front of a P-47D 'Razerback' Thunderbolt. This had more engine cowling flaps than the P-47C, but retained the earlier cockpit. During the production run of the P-47D a new 'bubble' canopy with cut-down rear fuselage was introduced.

Pictures provided by Sgt. Robert S. Tucker Sr. (Member of: The American Air Museum in Britain {Duxford} ).
Robert S. WWII Photo Book, Mighty 8th. AF, Ground Crew

P-47 ‘Hell Hawk’ pilot William McChesney recalls D-Day and operations over France

Bill McChesney (Center) and his P-47D Thunderbolt Black Magic. Bill McChesny collection.

14th September 2015 (Updated 23 May 2017) | Celebration, Florida — In the magazine Combat Aircraft (March 2004) Robert F. Dorr and Thomas D. Jones in the magazine Combat Aircraft wrote, “Thunderbolt veterans who fought on the European continent in the final year of World War II feel that their contribution has been forgotten.” They quote retired Colonel James L. ‘Mac’ McWhorter, who flew with the 365th Fighter Group (commonly known as the ‘Hell Hawks’), 386th Fighter Squadron, as having said the following: “People don’t know we were there. . . Air-to-ground action wasn’t glamorous, and it attracted very little attention.” Yet, the fact is that without ‘Jug’ pilots’ contributions and sacrifices the Allied armies could probably not have achieved victory in Europe. Many of the unsung Thunderbolt heroes’ names have slipped into the mist of history. One who gave much but did not receive the recognition due was Colonel (Retired) William (‘Bill’) H. McChesney. Mr. McChesney also spent his combat time with the 365th Fighter Group, but his primary unit of assignment was the 388th Fighter Squadron.

Bill McChesney’s life, like millions of others, was disrupted by the terrible conflict known as the Second World War. It was December 1941, and the United States had just officially entered the conflagration upon the Imperial Japanese Navy air attacks on military facilities at and around Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii. At the time Bill was a freshman at Westminster College. The U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) and Army Air Forces (USAAF) were ill-equipped with regard to modern military aircraft and desperately needed aviators.

Within a few weeks Kriegsmarine (Nazi Germany’s navy) submarines (unterseebooten in German or U-Boats in English) would soon be hunting and killing shipping along American’s coasts. There were virtually no patrol aircraft and aircrews available to search the thousands of miles of coastal waters. Civilians stepped into the role due to necessity. The Civil Air Patrol began antisubmarine flights near shore in light aircraft modified to carry small bombs and/or depth charges and the Coast Guard Auxiliary undertook maritime support activities.

Bill knew he would be called (drafted) to serve and was determined to defend his country. Therefore, there was no hesitation on his part. On the 22 December 1941 Mr. McChesney made a trip to the local U.S. Army recruiting center. Initially, his specific intention was to enlist in the U.S. Army. However, a corporal, who was wearing a holstered Model 1911 .45-caliber pistol, persuaded young McChesney to test for the USAAC. Bill thought, “Why not? It would mean higher pay, and, besides, what did he have to lose?”

On 27 December McChesney walked down the hall as directed to a room with a sign mounted above outside that read: Army Air Corps Cadet Studies. “Slightly more than two dozen men took the written test and three passed,” said Bill. “One scored 100%, but I was the only applicant who passed the physical exam the next day,” he added. Mr. McChesney’s long and distinguished military aviation career had begun.

Bill McChesney as a U.S. Army aviation cadet. Bill McChesney collection.

Bill McChesney entered the USAAF on 9 May 1942 and reported to the U.S. Post Office at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. At Cochrane Field (Douglas, Georgia) he underwent primary flight training on Boeing Stearmans, BT-13s and AT-6s. There he made no backseat landings.

After completing the primary course Bill was sent to Mitchell Field at Colesboro, North Carolina, to train on Curtiss P-40Ns. There he logged 10 hours.

At Goldsboro, North Carolina, Mr. McChesney converted to Republic P-47C Thunderbolts. When asked about his thoughts upon first seeing a Thunderbolt (aka ‘Jug’ or ‘Flying Milk Bottle’) fighter, Bill remarked, “It was BIG ALL OVER! A Thunderbolt weighed 10.5 tons.”

McChesney moved on to Richmond Army Air Field in Virginia. “It was crazy there,” he said.

Then Bill found himself in Wilmington, North Carolina, with the 365th Fighter Group, 388th Fighter Squadron. The 365th Fighter Group, commonly known by the moniker the ‘Hell Hawks,’ was formally established on 27 April 1943. The unit was activated on 15 May 1943 and assigned P-47Cs for their advanced training.

Republic P-47C-5-RE 3/4 front view (S/N 41-6601). U.S. Air Force photo.

The P-47C featured strengthened all-metal control surfaces, an upgraded General Electric turbosupercharger, and the P-47C-5 had a centerline hardpoint and belly fuselage shackles for either a 500 lb bomb or a 200 U.S. gallon fuel tank that conformed to the underside of the fuselage, and a whip antenna. This production version was powered the Pratt & Whitney R-2800-59 engine with water-methanol injection which was rated at a war emergency power generation of 2,300 hp.

Simply put, Bill McChesney loved the Thunderbolt. “It was fast and powerful.” He added, “The P-47 was so fast in a dive that high speed dives could result in the airplane entering compressibility.” Compressibility is a condition experienced at near supersonic speeds during which control surfaces are effectively rendered useless and the pilot cannot control the airplane.

Hawker Tempest. Photo: John T. Stemple .

Mr. McChesney pointed out that for a period of time pilots flying very high performance aircraft such as Thunderbolts, Hawker Typhoons, Lockheed P-38 Lightnings, North American P-51 Mustangs and Hawker Tempests sometimes died or nearly perished as a result of encountering the phenomenon.

It took engineers time to understand and design fixes to enable the safe recovery of high performance fighters.

Stateside bases to which the 365th trained included Richmond Army Air Base, Virginia (15 May 1943), Langley Field, Virginia (19 July 1943), Dover Army Air Field, Delaware (11 Aug 1943) and Richmond Army Air Base, Virginia (18 November-4 December 1943). Bill stated, “The 365th trained for and completed aerial gunnery training missions from Millville, New Jersey.”

U.S. Army Transport Brazil and Army tugboat. US Naval Historical Center Photograph NH 98767.

A portion of the fighter group departed Richmond Army Air Base for the United Kingdom on 4 December 1943. A large contingent sailed on the RMS (Royal Merchant Ship) Queen Elizabeth, the fast luxury liner that was impressed for trans-Atlantic transportation of troops. Bill and others followed on U.S. Army Transport ship (USAT) Brazil.

The voyage encompassed January and part of February of 1944. “There were 6 ships in our convoy and some 15,000 troops,” said Bill. “USS Argentina and Esso oil tankers were with us,” he added. “We were escorted by U.S. Navy destroyers, and Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and Royal Navy corvettes.” Sea conditions “were heavy and rough,” Bill recalled. The troop carriers, oilers, and small escorting naval vessels wallowed and pitched as they slowly made headway toward the British Isles.

A RCN corvette (HMCS Agassiz). Photo: Naval Museum of Manitoba photo.

USS Brazil eventually reached Gourock, Scotland where Bill and his mates disembarked. They were sent by train to Achmer and Shursbury in England. The 365th underwent combat airfield training for two months.

New P-47Ds were then available for the group. The ‘D’ was a marked improvement upon the P-47C. There were minor improvements in the fuel system, engine subsystems, a jettisonable canopy was incorporated as well as a bulletproof windscreen.

Republic P-47D-28-RA Thunderbolt Serial 42-28932 388th Fighter Squadron, 365th Fighter Group RAF Beaulieu, England. U.S. Air Force photo.

All P-47s manufactured to this point had a ‘razorback’ canopy configuration and a tall fuselage ‘back’ or ‘spine’ behind the pilot which unfortunately resulted in poor visibility to the rear. Thunderbolts’ internal firepower consisted of eight .50-caliber machine guns (four mounted within in each wing), and externally they sometimes were loaded with rockets and napalm containers in lieu of iron bombs.

Also during the P-47D production run the original narrow-chorded Curtiss propeller was replaced by props with larger blade surfaces. Yet, with the increased capability came a trade-off. The bigger airscrews had barely 6 inches of ground clearance, and therefore during takeoffs P-47 pilots had to keep the tail down and later carefully flare the airplane during landing. A modification to the undercarriage legs was installed on P-47Ds to provide for extension through an electric motor to compensate for the larger propeller diameter. Bill flew the ‘Razorback’ version during his period of combat flying and Thunderbolts with both types of propellers. In fact, he was one of the squadron pilots who first flew with a high-performance paddle blade. On that first test flight the large propeller ‘ran away’ and Bill was lucky to return to base.

/>An artist’s rendering of the P-47D Black Magic.

Specifically, within the 9th Air Force the 365th Fighter Group was attached to the 84th Fighter Wing of 9th Tactical Air Command. The 365th relocated to Royal Air Force (RAF) Station Beaulieu in Hampshire. It was also known as USAAF Station AAF 408. RAF Beaulieu was located adjacent to the village of East Boldre, which is about 2 miles west of the village of Beaulieu.

At RAF Beaulieu the 365th continued pre-operational training. Hell Hawks were instrumental in determining the maximum bomb loads for the P-47, which comprised two one-thousand pound bombs and an external fuel tank on the belly rack mount, and were in fact the first group to fly a dive-bombing mission with that particular bomb load. “We lost so many pilots in training,” lamented Bill McChesney. To learn dive-bombing the Hell Hawks flew one or two dry runs.

Hawker Typhoon. RAF photo.

Pilots posted to the RAF’s 2nd Tactical Air Force, equipped with Supermarine Spitfires and Hawker Typhoons, trained with the 365th at Beaulieu. Thus, Bill McChesney had the opportunity to see the Royal Air Force’s famous aircraft and interact with the British airmen. “I met an RAF Wing Commander who flew Typhoons. He was a great guy and we became friends.”

Bill stated that the British and Commonwealth flyers were very good airmen.” He added, “The Spits and Tempests were good airplanes.”

Royal Air Force Republic Thunderbolt Mk I.

He noted that the RAF eventually also thought admiring of the pugnacious Thunderbolt. The British air arm received 240 razorback Thunderbolt Mk. Is (P-47Bs) and 590 Mk. IIs (P-47D-25s), which were equipped with the distinctive bubble canopies. These airplanes were utilized by the South East Asia Command (India) for tactical and ground attacks and to escort bomber Liberator bombers during missions against the Imperial Japanese forces in Burma.

The 365th moved to Royal Air Force Station Gosfield on 23 December 1943. RAF Gosfield was located in Essex, England, approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) north of Braintree and some 40 miles (about 64 kilometers) north-northeast of London.

Mr. McChesney remembers his 365th and 388th commanders quite well. General Elwood R. “Pete” Quesada was Commander of the 9th Air Force. Bill stated, “I saw him only once. It was after we had begun combat operations and after ‘a milk run’ [an easy mission].

Colonel Lance Call led the 365th until late June 1944. “Call was tall and in his late 30s. He was big and square and had a rough voice,” reported Bill. He added, “Leading the group Call was okay, but he was not so good at finding targets in woods or around water.”

Perhaps as a result Colonel Ray Stecker assumed command of the fighter group in June 1944. Referencing Colonel Ray Stecker, Bill McChesney stated that Stecker was a “West Point All-American athlete and learned to fly P-47s at Beaulieu.” Ray Stecker commanded until April 1945, and in the post-war period “eventually attained the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.” noted Bill.

Major John Murphy was commander of the 388th and the deputy commander of the Hell Hawks. Bill said the following about Murphy: “He was a 110% West Point man, and a great leader and pilot.” Mr. McChesney also unreservedly stated, “Murphy had no fear.” McChesney added, “When he led you knew everything was okay, but when on the ground we were always asking: Where is he?” Murphy rose to the rank of lieutenant general after the Korean War.

Major Donald Hillman was Bill’s direct commanding officer. “He was an old timer, an excellent pilot who made his way up through the ranks,” remarked McChesney. After the war Hillman flew Boeing B-47s and B-52s, even to the point of commanding two wings. Donald Hillman retired at the rank of colonel.

McChesney’s element leader was Second Lieutenant Robert Fry, who later rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the 388th Fighter Squadron. Bill described Fry, who was also his roommate: “He was very down to earth and had a good head. Fry was an excellent pilot and roommate.”

Maintenance and repair of the Thunderbolts were constant activities. “The ground crews were great,” offered Bill McChesney. “My crew chief was the best. I always let him tell me what he thought about our Jug’s problems and airworthiness. I trusted him with my life,” he stated.

Bill related that aircraft crew chiefs were usually readying fighters at least an hour before a mission, which was often well before breakfast and sunrise. During this period armament loads and ordnance were checked, and engines were run to ensure proper oil pressure and magneto operation. Additionally, flight control movement and other systems were verified. The chief would then go to breakfast and quickly return to assist strap the pilot as he strapped into his seat. Many would then assist the pilot in taxiing by sitting on a wing or walking a wingtip because the pilots could not see what was ahead due to the P-47’s long nose. The crew chiefs were also at the runway to meet the airplane and greet the pilot upon the conclusion of their flights. After a briefing on damage from the pilot, the maintenance personnel would inspect the P-47 and quickly see to its repair and servicing in order to ensure it was again operational as soon as possible. “Their jobs were never done,” remarked Mr. McChesney.

Fw 190A-4. National Museum of the USAF photo 050602-F-1234P-005.

The 365th initiated combat flying with the 9th Air Force on 22 February 1944. The 365th’s first air-to-air victory came on 2 March 199 when Major Coffey of the 387th Fighter Squadron flamed and downed an Focke-Wulf Fw-190 over France. Bill McChesney flew his first mission as a wing man during the first week of March 1944. Usually Mr. McChesney flew in Red Flight. Later that month he went on leave to Southampton.

Over the period of the next two months the 365th’s squadrons gradually converted from the role of escorting 8th Air Force heavy bombers (Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses and Consolidated B-24 Liberators) to their essential fighter-bomber missions. Bill McChesney vividly recalled escorting Liberators over France as they pounded German defensive positions. During the transition Hell Hawks pilots began routinely attacking bridges, airfields, marshaling yards and heavy gun positions in preparation for the anticipated Allied invasion of the Continent.

USAAF B-24D Liberators. U.S. DefenseImagery photo VIRIN DF-ST-83-04095.

On 20 April Bill McChesney was one of the pilots who flew the mission that attacked the marshaling yards at Mantes-Gassicourt. He also was a member of the attacking force that pounded Calais and Hasselt, Belgium. 21 May 1944 found McChesney piloting one of the 500 aircraft that swept over France on a rhubarb [low-level hunting] flight. Bill recalled, “We killed masses of Wehrmach tanks, trains and trucks.” However, it was not all one-sided for prior to D-Day the 365th Fighter Group lost two P-47s.

The pace of operations was increasing. Excitement was in the air. On 3 June 1944 ground crews painted black and white ‘Invasion Stripes’ on the Thunderbolts. By this time personnel were already packing for a move to France once suitable fields were secured by Allied forces.

On D-Day Douglas C-47 Skytrains towing WACO gliders loaded with soldiers passed overhead in the predawn darkness. The seemingly endless formations of C-47s, with their droning engines, made it difficult to sleep.

C-47A Skytrain. Photo: Adrian Pingstone via Wikipedia.

By 0300 hours red-eyed crew chiefs were standing by their already serviced P-47s. The first flight briefing took place at 0430. Shortly after dawn Bill and seven other 365th P-47s strafed enemy positions above beyond ‘Red Sector’ on Omaha Beach. One of the Amerocan soldiers Bill was supporting below was Private John Colacchio, a member of the U.S. Army’s Second Infantry Division (the ‘Indianheads) and future close friend.

Bill stated, “The sight of all the assembled ships was incredible. There were hundreds or thousands of them offshore.” He added, “In total, the Allies flew over 15,000 sorties on D-Day.”

One U.S. Army soldier, John Colacchio of the 2nd Infantry Division, was thankful for all the air support as the ‘indianheads’ slugged it out with defending Wehrmacht (Nazi Germany’s army) artillery, infantry and armor. Although they did not know one another at the time, Bill McChesney and John would become good friends many years later after meeting in central Florida where both were residing.

Flights continued as the 365th hit German forces anywhere and everywhere they were exposed. On 17 June 1944 Bill was one of four members of the 388th to fly over and beyond the Red Sector of Omaha Beach. That day each Thunderbolt carried a 1,000 pound bomb. The target was a German 88mm artillery piece that was shelling the bridge leading from the beach and preventing regular supply to the desperate forward forces. Mr. McChesney stated, “The flight leader was killed when two bombs went off simultaneously. His P-47 simply disappeared in the huge blast.”

When Bill’s turn to attack came, much to his chagrin, the Jug pilot found that one bomb was hung [would not release]. He violently rocked the wing, and dove and pulled up suddenly with the hope of the G-forces would cause the ordnance to leave its shackles. Despite all of Bill McChesney’s attempts the bomb refused to leave the wing mounting. McChesney’s commander radioed that Bill had three choices. One was to fly over the English Channel, turn towards France, trim the airplane to dive it into the ground, and then take to his parachute. The second was to parachute over the cold waters of the Channel. A third option was to return to base and attempt a landing with the bomb still attached.

McChesney did not relish the thought of possibly wounding or killing French citizens when his gassed, armed and pilotless Thunderbolt impacted the ground. He also thought it imprudent to hope that a RAF Air Rescue Service launch or Royal Navy vessel could and would fish him out of the Channel before sharks or a Kriegsmarine (Nazi Germany’s navy) vessel arrived. Bill furthermore did not wish to land with a 1,000 bomb that could detach with the slightest jar and explode. None of the options was ideal.

Bill flew towards the English Channel, all the while trying to shake the bomb free. Nothing he tried worked. Eventually he made his way up the Thames River, still attempting to dislodge the stuck bomb. “The sight of the loaded and imperiled P-47 winding its way up the river likely caused quite a stir and a few British stiff upper lips to quiver,” related Bill McChesney.

Finally, Bill tired of the ‘game’ and headed back to base. He related, “I returned and landed without clearing the engine on final as usual, maintaining a hot 160 miles per hour instead of the usual 140 during final approach.” Proudly Mr. McChesney exclaimed, “The sturdy Republic fighter landed perfectly! That was my introduction to how great that airplane [the P-47] was.” He added, “My crew chief was the only man in sight when I landed. Our commanding officer was nowhere to be seen.” This saga earned William McChesney a Distinguished Flying Cross.

The P-47s nearly unceasingly slugged it out with German defenders. “There were 1,500 P-47s in France alone,” stated Bill. Their mission was two-fold. Protect the ground forces from enemy air attack and destroy any and all obstacles on the ground that prevented our forces from advancing. Faced with determined and overwhelming Allied airpower, the Germans steadily lost ground.

Bill vividly remembers one day while the 365th was flying from Advanced Landing Ground A-4, which was established as a temporary field on 14 June 1944 and located at Deux Jumeaux in Northern France. This day dawned and a thick ground fog blanketed the area. The pilots of the 388th were therefore looking forward to a relaxing breakfast. Instead, Major Murphy told Fry and McChesney, whom he, for some unknown reason, disliked to prepare for a mission. Bill was puzzled: “How could they be expected us to fly when we couldn’t even see our planes on the field?” There would, he soon learned, nevertheless be an eight-plane dive-bombing mission.

The designated 388th pilots suited up and strapped into their P-47 cockpits. Props turned, engines caught and blue smoke belched from the exhausts as the engines roared into life. Before long the Thunderbolts were taxiing into takeoff position on the 3,400 foot tarpaper runway surface.

When ready Murphy advanced his throttle and led the men into the enveloping mist. Bill McChesney found himself blinded by the white envelope and nervous because there were seven other fully fueled, heavily loaded and armed Thunderbolts in very close proximity. To his great relief once the planes reached 1,100 feet bright sunshine and a clear sky greeted them. The Americans calmed somewhat and went about maintaining formation with Murphy in the lead.

Reaching the target coordinates the flight of Hell Hawks looked down to see a large concentration of Wehrmacht troops and armor exposed within a field. The German tanks were Tiger Is, Panzer IV and/or Panthers. Bill McChesney recalled, “We surprised the enemy. They did not expect us to be flying due to the fog, and the soldiers and tank crews began running about frantically.”

Seizing the opportunity, and without hesitation, the P-47s rolled in to attack. Bill continued, “I strafed and dropped my 500 pound bomb in the midst of a number of Panzers. The ensuing explosion flipped, damaged or destroyed one or more tanks and probably wounded or killed a number of infantrymen.”

After the 388th completed their attacks Major Murphy led the gaggle back to A-4. Upon arriving the bewildered pilots saw that the fog was still thick. Murphy switched his four channel radio/transmitter to a ground frequency and spoke to ground control. Personnel below soon began firing yellow flares up through the fog in an effort to mark the runway’s position. Mr. McChesney noted that each flare generated a yellow glow in the mist. Switching back to ‘D’ channel, Murphy radioed to the seven other pilots: “Let’s go!” McChesney wondered to himself, “How am I going to land safely in such foggy conditions?”

Murphy quickly disappeared into the layer of mist as did the others. Trailing the leaders, Bill lowered his landing gear and flaps and throttled back. McChesney and let down at 110 miles per hour and he could see nothing but gray beyond his Thunderbolt. Suddenly there was a shout over the R/T: “Don’t land!”

Bill, who was caught low and slow and near stalling speed, dared not touch any controls for fear of losing controllability of the P-47 which was at that time barely flying. He also knew somewhere in front of him were other unseen Thunderbolts. Mr. McChesney applied gentle pressure to the stick and the nose of his P-47 gradually began to rise. Soon six 388th planes emerged from the top of the fog bank.

Shaken, Bill McChesney thought to himself, “To hell with landing at A-4!” Just then he heard an inaudible internal voice telling him to fly to Cherbourg and land. Bill settled onto a course that would take him to Cherbourg and noticed other pilots following, one of whom was Colonel Stecker. McChesney took the lead with the Group Commander Stecker flying on the much junior pilot’s wing!

Entering the traffic pattern over Cherbourg airfield, the arriving P-47s encountered a flight of Martin B-26 Marauders. Bill McChesney reasoned that the B-26s didn’t need to land, considering their usual fuel load. “I figured,” stated Bill, “the B-26s could fly nearly to Ireland before exhausting their supply.” In contrast, the Thunderbolts’ fuel tanks, McChesney stated, “were very near empty. We could only have a flown a few more minutes.” Bill thought, “To hell with them [the Marauders]. I’m landing! They can wait until we are down.” Bill bluntly stated, “So, we cut in front of the bombers.” He and the others firewalled their throttles and charged ahead. Mr. McChesney added, “After landing I had only 5 gallons of fuel remaining in my tanks. It was a close call.”

“It was later found out,” noted Bill, “that Major Murphy had crashed during his landing attempt at A-4. The wreck closed the runway.” Bill added, “Fry plowed into Murphy’s Thunderbolt.” Nothing was said about the incident, but, rather than suffer discipline over his ill-advised and nearly deadly leadership, “about a month later Murphy was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and up to Group Operations.”

The 365th moved to Azeville, France on 28 June 1944 and continued to dive-bomb targets during the succeeding weeks of the battle for Normandy. On 15 August 1944, the 365th set up shop at Lignerolles, France.

In July the Hell Hawks bombed targets near St Lo, again where John Colacchio and the 2nd Infantry Division were fighting.

During August and September they supported the drive across northern France. Also in September the 365th flew patrols in support of airborne operations in Holland. Relocation to Bretigny, France took place on 3 September 1944 and to Juvincourt, France on 15 September.

On one day the 365th lost seven Thunderbolts. Bill explained, “On takeoff I lost my wingman. Then we had to go in on a different to the target. We discovered that the number two pilot had a hung 500 pound bomb.” Bill McChesney remarked, “Losing so many on one mission was quite a shock.”

Sometime prior to 25 August 1944 Bill engaged in air-to-air combat with Luftwaffe fighters. He was flying a heading of 260 magnetic and headed for the English Channel. Suddenly, he saw 4 ‘dots’ at a 45 degree angle to his P-47. Mr. McChesney allowed the unidentified aircraft to close on him, knowing in his gut that that they were Messerschmitt Bf 109s.

Messerschmitt BF 109E-4 Trop. Australian War Memorial photo 29670.

Bill McChesney pushed the throttle fully forward to ensure that he was climbing at maximum speed. Then, at the most opportune correct moment McChesney dove and flew past a Bf 109. Bill pulled subsequently soared upward, utilizing the energy he had gained in the dive. A pair of 109s then descended and pulled underneath the Thunderbolt’s belly.

McChesney and one Bf 109 pilot began climbing with the hope of gaining an advantage over the other. Both men looked at each other through their canopies for an instant. Bill McChesney knew he could hang on the P-47’s big prop for a few seconds, and that ability was a salvation for him.

Sure enough, Bill maintained a climb but the Messerschmitt stalled and spun out. The Bf 109 faded away below and then again came up even with him. Yet again the Messerschmitt fighter stalled and spun down.

In response Bill McChesney shoved the control stick down and to the left, simultaneously adding left rudder, in a descending turn to port [the left]. A second later he saw a ‘shadow’ pass by at a very high rate of speed. Bill remarked, “That was the fourth Bf 109 going past.” McChesney decided during the next descent he would fire his .50-calbers at the persistent Bf 109 all the way down.

Entering another dive, Bill triggered the eight machine guns for six seconds. McChesney went down and zoomed back skyward. The third Bf 109 climbed and banked away to go home. Bill then dove, pulled up and spotted a German nearby floating to earth beneath a parachute. He had shot down the pesky 109, the fighter having crashed into the trees below. Bill McChesney could have, but chose not to, fire upon the defeated and defenseless German airman as he dangled beneath his parachute. Afterward, he decided that not firing may have spared him from further enemy attack. Bill even recalled one of the German pilots saluting him when they broke off.

The 9th Tactical Air Command and the Hell Hawks flew in direct support of General Hodges’ First Army. Hodges’ troops liberated Paris in large numbers and then moved through France and Belgium. The 365th arrived at Chievres, Belgium on 4 October 1944. The 365th was later cited by the Belgian government for assisting Allied armies in the period from the invasion of Normandy through the initial phases of the liberation of Belgium.

During the fall of 1944, the 365th supported ground forces with the seizure of Aachen and with the offensive toward the Rhine River. On 21 October 1944 the 365th destroyed and/or damaged numerous enemy fighters over the Bonn-Dusseldorf region of Germany.

On two occasions the Hell Hawks flew in direct support of General Patton’s Third Army. The first was shortly after 1 August 1944. The second was during the Battle of the Bulge, but Bill McChesney would not be participating with his squadron mates during this action because 25 August 1944 proved to be fateful for Mr. McChesney. On this occasion Bill McChesney and other 388th fliers were attacking targets of opportunity. A Luftwaffe airfield came into view far below, and Bill, despite feeling uneasy about the decision, dove to strafe solo because his wingman had decided not to make a pass.

Tracers flashed all about the plummeting Thunderbolt and 9mm bullets and 20mm cannon shells slammed into the big Pratt & Whitney powerplant. The deluge was too much for even the rugged P-47 to absorb. Bill McChesney slid the back the canopy, released his belt and straps and out went over the side. McChesney’s parachute opened and he floated to the ground.

Soon after reaching the ground Wehrmacht soldiers took him prisoner.

Bill was subsequently put aboard a train transporting Allied prisoners to camps. Those with him on the train included a German colonel, who was the commandant of the airfield over which Mr. McChesney was shot down, along with a guard and a USAAF second lieutenant pilot. The large .50-caliber bullets killed and wounded many of the interred passengers. The junior American officer perished during the strafing.

Unfortunately for the Germans and Allied prisoners, during the journey the train was attacked by North American P-51 Mustangs. The Mustangs strafed heavily, not knowing that there were friendlies aboard. Fortuitously, Bill McChesney had escaped from the train hours before.

McChesney had slipped off the train and escaped his captors. His subsequent hiding, evasion and escape were “not too hard,” explained Bill. “I made many moves in the dark — after midnight,” he said. “I finally found sanctuary in a farmhouse with a French family.”

Bill (R) and John (L) in France – 2014. Source: Bill McChesney.

Inside their farmhouse, Bill “stayed in a third floor attic. The family was in peril of being found out,” noted Mr. McChesney. Bill emphasized the cold hard fact of the situation: “Had the Gestapo found out about the family’s having hidden me they Germans would have executed the males as punishment for aiding and harboring an enemy.” Eventually McChesney discovered a small motorcycle in a barn and permanently made good his escape. Bill remembers the adjacent woods and guns firing as he motored away.

After Mr. McChesney’s self-liberation from enemy territory, the Hell Hawks moved to Metz, France on 27 December 1944 and Florennes/Juzaine, Belgium on 30 January 1945. Bill McChesney was sent back to England and thereafter repatriated to America.

Bill McChesney was awarded a POW Medal and is listed as a prisoner of war in certain records of the day. However, his separation papers do not reflect any record of imprisonment.

After his return to the United States on 16 October 1944, Mr. McChesney had many postings. Initially, he began training as the invasion of Japan was expected. Bill also attended schooling and made flights over Long Island, New York. Subsequently he delivered aircraft to bases, obtained further instruction and finally received orders for the Pacific Theater.

The “Akutan Zero”. A6M2 Zero at NACA Langley Research Center on 7 March 1943. NASA Langley Reserch Center photo EL-1997-00167.

Bill, at some point in 1945, saw a strange aircraft among a line of new North American P-51 Mustangs at Eglin Army Air Field. He asked a line chief about the plane and was told that it was the Mitsubishi A6M Akutan Zero that had crashed in July 1942 on the Aleutian island of Akutan.

By this time Bill had logged time in A-25, AT-6s, Taylor Cubs, Curtiss P-40s, P-51s, P-47s (D and N models). His favorite, said Mr. McChesney, was, not surprisingly, “the Thunderbolt!”

North American F-86F Sabre formation during the Korean War 1953. Photo U.S. Air Force.

With the end of the war Bill McChesney left the military briefly but soon entered the new U.S. Air Force. He held the rank of lieutenant upon joining. McChesney was eventually stationed at Langley Air Force Base and began flying North American F-86 Sabre Jets from the base’s long runways. Then he went to Camp Miles Standish, Massachusetts.

KC-135A refueling B-52D. USAF photo.

During the latter part of his career Bill flew aboard aerial tankers including Boeing KC-97 Stratofreighters and Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers.

Mr. McChesney rose to the rank of full colonel before retiring.

In 2014 Bill McChesney was awarded the Legion d’Honneur (Legion of Honor for U.S. veterans), France’s highest distinction for American servicemembers who risked their lives on behalf of France.

USAF Boeing KC-97L Stratofreighter S/N 52-2630 at RAF Mildenhall. U.S. Air Force photo.

William McChesney passed away on 23 April 2017 and is now flying with angels.

The authors (John Stemple and William Commerford) thank William McChesney, John Colacchio, and Scott McChesney for their assistance and cooperation and assistance during the preparation of this article.

The textual content is based upon a series of interviews between October 2014 and April 2015.

James A. Beavers in front of P-47D 'Razerback' Thunderbolt - History

Republic's P-47
From Seversky to Victory

Widewing Publications - 1994
ISBN 0-9629359-1-3

P-47 Thunderbolt
in action

squadron/signal publications - N°1067 - 1984
ISBN 0-89747-161-X

P-47 Thunderbolt
in action

squadron/signal publications - N°1208 - 2007
ISBN 978-0-89747-542-6

Combat and Development History of the Thunderbolt

Motorbooks International - 1994
ISBN 0-87938-899-4

Walk Around 11
squadron/signal publications - N°5511 - 1997
ISBN 0-89747-375-2

Detail & scale - Vol. 54
squadron/signal publications - N°8254 - 1998
ISBN 1-888974-07-9

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
vol. I

Tomasz Szlagor & Krzysztof Janowicz

KAGERO - N°17 - 2005
ISBN 83-89088-67-3

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
vol. II

Tomasz Szlagor & Krzysztof Janowicz

KAGERO - N°20 - 2005
ISBN 83-89088-84-3

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
vol. III

KAGERO - N°24 - 2006
ISBN 83-60445-07-9

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
vol. IV

Tomasz Szlagor & Leszek A. Wieliczko

KAGERO - N°28 - 2006
ISBN 83-60445-13-3

Speciality Press - 1999
ISBN 1-58007-018-3


DelPrado/Osprey Aviation - N°37 - 2000
ISBN 2-84349-066-9


Classic Publications - 2002
ISBN 1-903223-12-0

Warpaint Special No.1
Hall Park Books Limited
ISSN 1363-0369


Przemyslaw Skulski & Tomasz Gronczewski


Przemyslaw Skulski & Tomasz Gronczewski

ACE Publication - 1998
ISBN 83-86153-99-7

Adam Jarski & Robert Michulec

Monografie Lotnicze 25
AJ PRESS - 1996
ISBN 83-86208-36-8

Adam Jarski & Robert Michulec

Monografie Lotnicze 26
AJ PRESS - 1996
ISBN 83-86208-41-4


Samolot mysliwski P-47 Thunderbolt

TBiU 158
ISBN 83-11-08288-X

ISBN 0-905469-45-3

Aero Detail N°14
Dai Nippon Kaiga - 1995
ISBN 4-499-22648-1

The Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

Number 7
Profile Publications Limited. - 1965

PROFILE Aircraft
Republic P-47N Thunderbolt

Number 262
Profile Publications Limited - 1974

part 1

Series 1 No. 8
Kookaburra Technical Publications - 1971

part 2

Series 1 No. 9
Kookaburra Technical Publications - 1969


Aero series 6

Airworthy fighter airplanes of WW2 and Korea

Osprey Publications Ltd. - 1986
ISBN 0-85045-723-8

Famous Aircraft of the world
Periscopio Publications - 2007
ISBN 978-960-6740-04-6

The KOKU-FAN - Vol.19 No.14
BURIN-DO CO., Ltd. - Sept. 1971

Martin Velek & Valerij Roman


Aircam Aviation Series N°2
Osprey Publications Ltd. - 1971
ISBN 85045-001-2

in Action

squadron/signal publications - N°18 - 1975

EUROPE 1942-45

Aircam/Airwar 8
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 1977
ISBN 0-85045-231-7

MTO 1942-45

Aircam/Airwar 12
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 1978
ISBN 0-85045-244-9

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt in the European Theater

squadron/signal publications - N°6076 - 1998
ISBN 0-89747-393-0

Support and Strike!
A Concise History of the U.S. Ninth Air Force in Europe

GMS Enterprises - 1991
ISBN 1-870384-10-5

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt in the Pacific Theater

squadron/signal publications - N°6079 - 1999
ISBN 0-89747-398-1


Osprey Combat Aircraft - 92
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 2012
ISBN 978 1-84908-672-1

Gene B. Stafford & William N. Hess

squadron/signal publications - N°6001 - 1973

P-47 Thunderbolt Aces of the Eighth Air Force

Aircraft of the aces - 24
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 1998
ISBN 1-85532-729-5

'Down to Earth'
Strafing Aces of the Eighth Air Force

Aircraft of the aces - 51 - SPECIAL
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 2003
ISBN 1-84176-437-5

Mustang and Thunderbolt Aces of the Pacific and CBI

Aircraft of the aces - 26
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 1999
ISBN 1-85532-780-5


squadron/signal publications - N°6011 - 1977
ISBN 89747-063-X

'Twelve to One'
V Fighter Command Aces of the Pacific War

Aircraft of the aces - 61
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 2004
ISBN 1-84176-784-0

RAF Mustang and Thunderbolt Aces

Aircraft of the aces - 93
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 2010
ISBN 978-1-84603-979-9

P-47 Thunderbolt Aces
of the Ninth and Fifteenth Air Forces

Aircraft of the aces - 30
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 1999
ISBN 1-85532-906-9

'Long Reach'

Aircraft of the aces - 31
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 2000
ISBN 1-85532-907-7


Histoire & Collections - 2008
ISBN 978-2-35250-076-6


ISBN 911852-87-5


Histoire & Collections - 2012
ISBN 978-2-35250-209-8

The Pineapple Air Force

Schiffer Publishing Ltd. - 2006
ISBN 0-7643-2533-7

Europe 1943-45

Duel - 11
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 2008
ISBN 978-1-84603-315-5

Fighters over Japan
Part I

Tomasz Szlagor - Janusz Swiatlon - Leszek A. Wieliczko

ISBN 978-83-60445-78-5

Fighters over Japan
Part II

Tomasz Szlagor - Janusz Swiatlon - Leszek A. Wieliczko

ISBN 978-83-61220-13-8

Vol. I

squadron/signal publications - N°6047 - 1988
ISBN 0-89747-198-9

Vol. II - Escape to Neutrality

Hans-Heiri Stapfer & Gino Künzle

squadron/signal publications - N°6056 - 1992
ISBN 0-89747-278-0

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
Latin American Air Forces Service

ISBN 0-9625860-1-3

Vol. 2 - ETO & MTO 1942-45

squadron/signal publications - N°6151 - 1980
ISBN 0-89747-108-3

Vol. 3 - Pacific and Home Front, 1942-47

squadron/signal publications - N°6152 - 1997
ISBN 0-89747-376-0

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
U.S.A.A.F., E.T.O. & M.T.O., 1942-1945

Camouflage & Markings No.15


Schiffer Publishing Ltd. - 2006
ISBN 0-7643-2535-3



Schiffer Publishing Ltd. - 2008
ISBN 0-7643-2938-8

V OL. I - 1940-1945

squadron/signal publications - N°6052 - 1990
ISBN 0-89747-241-1

V OL. II - 1946-1960

squadron/signal publications - N°6058 - 1993
ISBN 0-89747-291-8

The 1st Air Commandos in World War II

Schiffer Publishing Ltd. - 1998
ISBN 0-7643-0447-X

Air Commando Fighters of World War II
Vol. 3 - Pacific and Home Front, 1942-47

Specialty Press - 2000
ISBN 1-58007-022-1

The Life and Times of the 4th Fighter Group

Aero Publishers, Inc. - 1978
ISBN 0-8168-5004-6

4th Fighter Group 'Debden Eagles'

Osprey Aviation Elite - 30
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 2008
ISBN 978-1-84603-321-6

49th Fighter Group - Aces of the Pacific

Aviation Elite Units - 14
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 2004
ISBN 1-84176-785-9

Osprey Aviation Elite - 2
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 2000
ISBN 1-84176-047-1

squadron/signal publications - N°6172 - 1991
ISBN 0-89747-240-3


Nigel Julian - Peter Randall

Fighting High Ltd - 2015
ISBN 978-0-9926207-8-3

57th Fighter Group
'First in the Blue'

Aviation Elite Units - 39
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 2011
ISBN 978 1-84908-337-9


Air University Press
Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama - 2004
ISBN 1-58566-128-7

Aces of the 78th Fighter Group

Osprey Aircraft of the Aces - 115
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 2013
ISBN 978-1-78096-715-8

COMBAT HISTORY OF THE 79th Fighter Group

Captain Ragnar G. Lind, Air Corps

MAY 1946


Schiffer Publishing Ltd. - 2001
ISBN 0-7643-1322-3


Eagle Editions Ltd. - 2007
ISBN 0-9721060-8-1

L'extraordinaire épopée des pilotes de chasse du 324e Fighter Group
de l'U.S. Army Air Corps

Editions Pierron & Editions TMA - 2009
ISBN 2-7085-0342-18

The 325th Fighter Group in North Africa and Italy

Ernest R. McDowell & William N. Hess

Aero Publishers, Inc. - 1969

The 325th Fighter Group in the Second World War

squadron/signal publications - N°6175 - 1994
ISBN 0-89747-316-7

Aces of the 325th Fighter Group

Osprey Aircraft of the Aces - 117
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 2014
ISBN 978-1-78096-301-3

332nd Fighter Group - Tuskegee Airmen

Aviation Elite Units - 24
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 2007
ISBN 978-1-84603-044-4

The 348th Fighter Group in World War II

Schiffer Publishing Ltd. - 2004
ISBN 0-7643-0248-0

in the mediterranean campain
2 November 1942 to 2 May 1945

Schiffer Publishing Ltd. - 1997
ISBN 0-7643-0220-5

Osprey Aviation Elite - 8
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 2002
ISBN 1-84176-382-9

The Experience of the 353rd Fighter Group during World War II

Thunderbolt Publishing Ltd - 2001
ISBN 0-9541164-0-2

Osprey Aviation Elite - 7
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 2002
ISBN 1-84176-315-2

The 356th Fighter Group in World War II
in Action over Europe with the P-47 and P-51

Schiffer Publishing Ltd. - 2003
ISBN 0-7643-1768-7

The Story of the 358th FIGHTER GROUP


Orchard Print & Design


Printed and Published by

Aviation Elite Units - 10
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 2002
ISBN 1-84176-440-5


The 361st Fighter Group in World War II

Schiffer Publishing Ltd. - 2002
ISBN 0-7643-1466-1


Casemate Publishers - 2018
ISBN 978-1-61200-673-4

362nd Fighter Group
dans la Bataille de Normandie

Editions Heimdal - 2014
ISBN 978-2-84048-381-6

Southcoast Typesetting - 1975

The Untold Story of the American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler's Wehrmacht

Robert F. Dorr / Thomas D. Jones

Zenith Press - 2008
ISBN 0-7603-2918-4


Schiffer Publishing Ltd. - 2006
ISBN 0-7643-2427-6

Army & Navy Pictorial Publishers - 1946


404th Fighter Group
dans la Bataille de Normandie

Editions Heimdal - 2013
ISBN 978-2-84048-369-4

a history of the 405th Fighter Group in World War II

Sunflower University Press - 1986
ISBN 0-89745-075-2

Design & art: Sam Mickwee
Narrations: Theodore E. Wegerski


Jacek Jackiewicz & Robert Bock

ISBN 978-83-924914-1-5

Royal Air Force

Air Research Publications - 1987
ISBN 0-904811-08-5

The Republic Thunderbolt Mk. I

Philedition - 2014 (Rev. 2018)
ISBN 978-2918590-36-1

The Republic Thunderbolt Mk. II

Philedition - 2017
ISBN 979-1096490-18-9


Grub Street. - 2005
ISBN 1-904010-95-4


Pen & Sword Books Ltd - 2014
ISBN 978-1-78337-614-8

SEAC 1941-45

Osprey/Airwar 23
Osprey Publishing Ltd. - 1979
ISBN 0-85045-297-x


Brig. Gen. Kennard K. Wiggins Jr.

Arcadia Publishing - 2008
ISBN 978-1439622605

IBN Editore - 2005
ISBN 88-7565-021-7

A Pictorial History of the French Air Force 1937-1945

Paul Camelio & Christopher Shores

squadron/signal publications - 1976

P-47 Thunderbolt

ISBN 978-2-915239-90-4


APPA - 2015
ISBN 978-2-9528167-9-3

Historique de l'Escadron de Chasse
01 / 004 DAUPHINÉ

EC 01.004 "DAUPHINÉ"

Editions de la Noue Gavigné - 2010
ISBN 978-2-918883-11-1


en Saône-et-Loire

Nouvelles Editions du Creusot - 2002
ISBN 9515077-7-1

Crashs sur le Pas-de-Calais

1939 - 1945 :
La guerre aérienne dans la Vienne

Geste Editions - 2009
ISBN 978-2-84561-558-8

Au-dessus du département des Ardennes
vol. 1

Au-dessus du département des Ardennes
vol. 2

Au-dessus du département des Ardennes
vol. 3

Missions sans retour et évasions d'aviateurs de l'US Army Air Force
sur la presqu'île de Cherbourg en 1944

Editions Isoète - 2014
ISBN 978-2-35776-060-5

500 avions tombés en mission de combat sur le territoire du département

Editions Delattre - 2006
ISBN 2-915907-30-7

L'armée de l'air
dans la bataille de la poche de Colmar
5 décembre 1944 - 10 février 1945

Yves Le Clair & Brigitte Kolb

Un ciel normand turbulent
ÉTÉ 1944

Nous étions tous en Normandie

Henri Levaufre
13 ans en 1944


Société Lyonnaise d'Histoire de l'Aviation et de Documentation Aéronautique

Sever the Sky

ISBN 0-915464-01-2



TYPE R2.800 -- 5-21-27-31-35-39-43


Stories from an American fighter pilot in World War II

James E. Brown - 2017
ISBN 1-5429-6430-X

Independently published - 2019
ISBN 978-1095452950

The Fighter-Bomber Boys

MBI Publishing Company - 1998
ISBN 0-7603-0548-X

PublishAmerica, Baltimore - 2004
ISBN 1-4137-4157-6

fighter pilot
Aleutians to Normandy to Stalag Luft 1

M & A Kaufman Publishers - 1993
ISBN 0-9636301-0-5

Smithsonian Institution - 1999
ISBN 1-56098-888-6

Strafford Publishing - 2007
ISBN 1-4251-1504-7

A Personal View of World War II

Mangan Books - 2003
ISBN 0-930208-39-0

A Fighter Pilot's Life
Francis Gabreski as told to Carl Molesworth

Schiffer Publishing Ltd. - 1998
ISBN 0-7643-0442-9

My Wartime Memories of WWII
( 57th Fighter Group - 66th Fighter Squadron )

The Combat Story of Lt. Paul J. Eastman,
A "Burma Banshee" P-40 and P-47 Pilot

Jacobsville Books - 2011
ISBN 978-1-934631-15-7


TAB BOOKS Inc. - 1985
ISBN 0-8306-2368-X

The Story of A Fighter Pilot

Outskirts Press, Inc. - 2005
ISBN 1-59800-077-2


Tate Publishing & Enterprises - 2009
ISBN 978-1606049723

A Thunderbolt Pilot's War Across the Pacific

Jim Curran and Terrence Popravak, Jr.

ISBN 978-1-61200-299-6

Lieutenant Vincent "Vinny" Malone

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform - 2014
ISBN 978-149739-977-8


Smashwords Edition - 2016
ISBN 978-136543-753-3


Smithsonian Institution Press - 2000
ISBN 1-56098-374-4

Fighter Pilot WW II

Branden Publishing Company, Inc. - 1992
ISBN 0-8283-1943-x

A Fighter Pilot's Life
from Thunderbolts to Thunderchiefs

Zenith Press - 2007
ISBN 978-0-7603-3217-7


Lulu Publishing Services - 2014
ISBN 978-1483401997

Al Zlaten, Publisher - 2000
ISBN 0-9676796-0-5

P 47 War in Europe

Stonewood press - 1989
ISBN 0-9624084-0-9


Hal Shook

Humanomics Publishing - 2005
ISBN 0-9746279-5-X


CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform - 2012
ISBN 978-1475038828

An Armorer's Life in the ETO

Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc. - 1997
ISBN 0-8059-3998-9

Memoirs of a P-47 Pilot

CardPlus Publishing - 2002
ISBN 978-1514275672

Wetzel Publishing Co., Inc. - 1946

Flying captured Allied Aircraft of World War 2

Jane's Publishing Inc. - 1980
ISBN 0-531-03711-8

the interrogator
The story of Hanns Joachim Scharff
master interrogator of the Luftwaffe

Schiffer Publishing Ltd. - 1997
ISBN 0-7643-0261-2


Deux crashs au même endroit dans deux guerres différentes

Stéphane Muret & Patrick Baumann


Le 27th Fighter Group US dans la tourmente !
Campagne de France et d'Allemagne 1944-1945

Stéphane Muret & Patrick Baumann


Eté 1944 : les P-47 de la 9th Air Force en Normandie

The Italian connection
Deux combats franco-italiens

Fernando d'Amico - Gabriele Valentini



N°39 - Octobre-Novembre 2004


Opération "Dragoon", août 1944

Hors-série N°2 - Avril-Mai 2009

Les P-47 du 90th Fighter Squadron


N°4/82 - Ottobre-Dicembre 1982


AIR Enthusiast

An Unhappy Time.


N°124 - Mars 1989 / N°125 - Avril 1989 / N°126 - Mai 1989



"AU CHARBON" avec ceux de la 20e escadre

Le Groupe de Chasse III/6 en 1939-1945

le roi du Thunderbolt



Christophe Cony


Le débarquement : Combats Aériens

Philippe Cornil & Jean-Louis Roba

N°28 - Avril-Mai-Juin 2004 / N°29 - Juillet-Août-Septembre 2004


N°31 - Janvier-Février-Mars 2005


6 JUIN 1944 : LE JOUR J - (2e partie)

N°2 - Septembre-Octobre-Novembre 2004




Les forces aériennes tactiques françaises
dans la libération des poches de Royan et de la pointe de Grave
14-19 avril 1945

Die Thunderbolts von Neubiberg

5/10 - September/Oktober 2010

le fanatique de L'AVIATION




N°176 - Juillet 1984 / N°177 - Août 1984 / N°178 - Septembre 1984




"Corky" Meyer et le Republic P-47
Mes vols dans un bidon


L'épopée Seversky
Des avions ratés qui eurent un grand avenir


La bataille aérienne du 6 juin 1944



Hors série N°15 - Juillet 2001


P-47 Thunderbolt

les Ailes Françaises 1939-1945

10-La renaissance (1943-1945)
des Forces aériennes françaises (2e partie) :
De la campagne d'Italie à la campagne d'Allemagne



N°154 - Mai 1998 / N°157 - Août 1998



N°237 - Avril 2005 / N°262 - Mai 2007


The P-47 was effective in air combat but proved especially adept at ground attack. It had eight .50-caliber machine guns, four per wing. When fully loaded the P-47 could weigh up to eight tons. A modern-day counterpart in that role, the A-10 Thunderbolt II, takes its name from the P-47.

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt

More Republic P-47 Thunderbolts were built than any other U.S. fighter. The "Jug" nicknamed for its bulk shape, was a veritable monster of a machine, yet it was fast and maneuverable. The Pilot had enormous power at his fingertips if his aircraft was hit by gunfire, he knew he had an excellent chance of getting home. From the first XP-47B to the last P-47N the "T-Bolt" was a winner.

The Thunderbolt, along with the Mustang and Lightning were all the heavy bombers needed to get safely (relatively) in and out of enemy territory.

A few years ago I emailed you about my nephew who made a ME 109, you have him on your weenie planes page. Well he wanted me to email you this picture. He used the WWII disk that he purchased from you, and enlarged the planes for the P47. He makes these planes out of the insulating fan fold that can be purchased from the hardware store. Thanks for the really good planes. Terry & Zack (the nephew)

Howdy. Perhaps you could use one of these pictures of the FG P-47 I recently completed and demoed at the IPMS Orange County Chapter meeting. The build techniques are the same as working with paper. Even the guns and antenna were formed around a straight wire.

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt

The final perturbation of a lengthy series of radial-engine fighters that included the P-35 and P-43, Republic's immense and powerful P-47 Thunderbolt was one of the truly great fighters of World War II. Designer Alexander Kartveli, after a series of early design Studies that included several lightweight fighters with liquid. cooled engines, eventually settled on a radial engine configuration with a gross weight of more than 12,000 lbs. At the time, this was the heaviest fighter ever Ordered by the Air Force.

The prototype XP-478 took to the air for the first time on May 6, 1941, already having been ordered into production the preceding September. With its powerful 2,000 hp XR-2800 radial engine, it proved capable of speeds well in excess of 400 mph in level flight-a feat then matched in the U.S. only by the Vought Corsair.

The initial production Thunderbolt series was the P-47B and the first of these was delivered during mid-1942. The Thunderbolt was first flown in combat on April 8, 1943, and quickly proved itself to be rugged, reasonably fast, and Outstanding in a dive. Its shortcomings surfaced, too, however, as it also lacked maneuverability, Climb speed, and range.

The P-47C now was introduced on the production line, this version having a slightly longer fuselage and provisions for a centerline drop tank. It was followed, in turn, by the P-47D, which had water injection to increase engine power when needed, and wing pylons optimized for the transport of weapons and/or additional external fuel tanks.

The P-47D would, itself, undergo a major change midway through its production life when an experimental bubble canopy modification first applied to the one-off XP-47K was introduced on the Thunderbolt production line. This modification permitted a dramatic improvement in pilot rearward vision and almost immediately became the standard configuration for all succeeding P-47s. Between the original razorback P-47s and the newer bubble canopy versions, a total of 12,962 P-47Ds (including 354 P-47Gs built by Curtiss-Wright) were manufactured.

Following a miscellaneous collection of prototypes, the final full-production Thunderbolt model was the P-47N, Developed after an initial batch of YP-and P-47Ms with specially boosted 2,800 hp engines and maximum speeds of 470 mph, this version was optimized for great range and specifically for use in the Pacific Theatre. It differed from its predecessors in having a wing with increased span and increased internal fuel tankage, a more powerful engine, and numerous other lesser changes. Deliveries began during the spring of 1945, and the type served to escort Boeing 8-295 during bombing missions for the rest of the war.

In combat, the Thunderbolt was an effective air-to-air fighter, but an even more effective ground support aircraft. Its great diving speed and ability to carry tremendous payloads made it ideal for air-to-ground work. Some 5,222 Thunderbolts were lost during the war, but only 3,499 of these were directly attributable to enemy action. Some 1,350.000 combat hours were flown with a combat loss rate per sortie of 7%.

The standard armament package found on the P-47 was eight .50 Cal. machine guns in the wings. Additionally, most Thunderbolt versions were capable of carrying a sizable external payload of bombs, rockets, and/or fuel tanks attached to wing hard points.

Just showing off: Here is your FG P-47 printed half letter size page on Staples 32LB Color Laser Paper gloss white I like this stuff. It was printed using a HP Officejet G85. The paper holds a fine line and the ink does not crack off. Good model size for limited shelf space. Bob Penikas

In the light of the early air fighting in Europe Alexander Kartveli almost completely redesigned the XP-47 light fighter projected early in 1939, resulting in the XP-47B. It was almost twice as heavy and a Double Wasp radial engine replaced the XP-47's Allison in-line. In September 1940, 171 P-47Es and 602 P-4lCs were ordered. The XP-47B flew on 6 May 1941. The B and C models were similar, but the C had a slightly longer fuselage to improve maneuverability. Thunderbolts entered USAAF service in March 1842, becoming operational with 0th Air Force units over Europe in April 1943 and in the Pacific theatre some two months later.

Huge orders had been placed for the P-47D, which was initially a refined C. To this configuration, Republic manufactured 8,423 P-47Ds and Curtiss 384 designated P-470. From the P-47D-28 the cockpit view was vastly improved by cutting down the rear fuselage and fitting a 'teardrop' canopy. The weight saved allowed extra fuel to be carried. Production batches from P-47D-37 had a dorsal fin fillet to offset the reduced keel area. Bubble-canopied P-47Ds served widely as a fighter and fighter-bomber in Europe: 8,179 were completed at Farmingdale and Evansville. The RAF received 240 Thunderbolt Mk Is (early P-47D) and 590 Mk II's (later P-47D) 203 were allocated to the Soviet Air Force under Lend-Lease and 88 to Brazil.

The next production model (following various experimental variants) was the P-47M this utilized the 2,800hp R-2800-57 with which the XP-47J had flown at 504mph, in the P-47D airframe. An improvised version produced hastily to counter the VI flying-bomb attacks on Britain, only 130 were built. The last and heaviest production Thunderbolt was the P-47N, a very long-range escort and fighter-bomber variant: Republic built 1,816. Production, ending in December 1945, totaled 15,660 aircraft. About two-thirds survived the war. The Thunderbolt was one of the principal types supplied under the 1947 Rio Pact to many Latin American countries, including Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru, a few serving until the late 1960s.

Fiddlers Green P-47 Thunderbolt Review May 16, 2000

The builder's perspective (or CYA):

The P-47 is my favorite WWII aircraft and over the years I have built it as Plastic Scale Kits, Rubber Powered Kits, Control Line Kits, One R/C Kit and now paper. I am a scale modeler and correct colors, markings and details are as important to me as fit and instructions. I prefer models of real Aircraft and knowing the history behind them. This is what gives models life and personality to me. It is from this perspective this review is written. Comments and suggestions are always welcome, but insults and flames will be ignored.

Historical Accuracy: 3 (1-10, 10 being most accurate)

The model scale is 1/60 and represents a reasonable semi-scale facsimile of a P-47D-40. However, the identification markings: Checker cowl and tail, Aircraft No. 710 and Register No. 488366 are correct for P-47N Captain James Butler Jr. with the 437th Squadron, 414th Fighter Group on Le Shima in 1945. Changes that would be required to make the model accurate are: (1) decrease cowl checker bands to two rows and put the name "Baby Dumpling on the cowl. (2) Delete the kill marks from the left side under the cockpit. (3) The strake (spine) that goes from the front of the rudder down the back needs to be rounded off in the front instead of going to a point. (4) The wings need to have the rounded tips removed and be squared off. (5) No matter which version of P-47 you decide to build, the propeller supplied on the sheet is wrong for all versions. All P- 47,s had four bladed propellers. The kit needs to be either modified with the correct markings for a P-47D-40 or revised to a P-47N with the marking corrected and a four bladed prop. This would easily pull up the rating to a 5 or 6. (The PMI 1/32 P-47D Razorback S.O.S. (Straight Off the Sheets) is a 9 for reference purposes.)

For those interested in a reference for 710 see Squadron/Signal Publications P-47 Thunder Bolt in Action.

Construction: (3) (1 easy to 10 expert)

Large portions of Fiddlers Green models are easy and will go together with little adjustment and all come with an excellent instruction sheet. The P-47 is one of Chip's slightly tougher models because it attempts to capture the Jug shape of the P-47 thus the fuselage is made up of six sections including the front engine cowl. In order to make these fits together smoothly some adjusting is required. Just cutting the pieces out and following the lines for gluing will not produce a good fit. On the one I built the following adjustments had to be made: (the order is from the engine cowl to the tail) (1) Front Cowl had to be let out a little to make it larger. (2) Back Cowl was assembled as marked on drawing. (3) Front Fuselage section had to be taken in a little to make it smaller. (4) Middle Fuselage section had to be taken in a little to make it smaller. (5) The tail section was assembled as marked on the drawings. The wings require a bit of fidgeting to get them to work and fit properly against the fuselage. The rest of the parts went together straight from sheet with no major adjustments. I excluded the landing gear and built mine as a flying version on a stand.

Here are my modifications that you will not find in the instructions: (1) I removed the tabs off the engine and glued it to 1/8 Balsa sheet behind it. Since this part really gives the model it,s cross section the added strength does not hurt and I find it makes the part easier to position & glue in the cowl. (2) Color the inside of the engine cowl black on the backside of the sheet before cutting the parts out. The black adds depth to the engine compartment and removes the stark white look. (3) Stuff small pieces of tissues in the root of the wings to puff them out. The wings will not fit right on the plane unless the wing shape is full bodied or puffed a bit. The tissue helps to keep the shape. (4) For the prop hub and shaft I used plastic tubing found at your local hobby shop. A thin piece is used for the shaft and the next size up is cut and slid over the shaft for the hub. The assembly is glued with liquid plastic cement, the front sanded and rounded to shape. The whole assembly is painted yellow. The resulting hub will look far more realistic than the "Bozo the Clown hub using a ball end sewing pin. (5) I modified a FG P-51 four blade propeller and colored it black. I am not into Chips polished metal prop look.

Once completed the Fiddlers Green P-47 is a nice semi-scale model that fits right in with Fiddlers Green collection of aircraft models. The fuselage shape is more minnow than P-47 guppy, but pretty close for a one sheet small model with only one inside former. With the marking corrections it could be a more accurate kit and with small modification it can be modified into another P-47 variant. Perhaps in the future Chip will update this kit. Despite my picks and pans of this kit it is a nice addition to anyone,s collection that has a few Fiddlers Green kits under their belt.

To me, half of the fun building a model is reading about the aircraft and the men that flew them. Here is a list of some of the books I enjoy about the P-47 in no particular order: (1) Signal/Squadron Books, "P-47 In Action Don Greer (2) Detail & Scale Vol. 54 "P-47 Thunderbolt Bert Kinzey (3) Jan Allan Pub. "P-47 Thunderbolt At War William Hess (4) Osprey "P- 47 Thunderbolt Aces Of The Eighth Airforce Jerry Scutts (5) Orion Books " Zemke's Wolf Pack Roger A Freeman. Some of the books are still in print others you can find being auctioned from time to time on e-bay.

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt Specifications

Maximum speed: 433 mph at 30,000 ft
Range: 800 mi combat, 1,800 mi ferry
Service ceiling: 43,000 ft
Rate of climb: 3,120 ft/min
Wing loading: 58.3 lb/ft²
Power/mass: 0.14 hp/lb

P-47 Thunderbolt

caption =USAAF P-47D "Razorback" configuration
designer = Alexander de Seversky Alexander Kartveli
first flight = 6 May 1941
introduction =1942
retired =1955, U.S. Air National Guard
status =
primary user = United States Army Air Force
more users =
produced =
number built =15,686
unit cost =US$85,000 in 1945 [http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=2213 National Museum of the Air Force Fact sheet] ]
variants with their own articles =

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, also known as the "Jug", was the largest single-engined fighter of its day, and a vast improvement over the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk , its predecessor . It was one of the main United States Army Air Force (USAAF) fighters of World War II , and also served with other Allied air forces. The P-47 was effective in air combat but proved especially adept at ground attack . It had eight .50-caliber machine guns, four per wing. When fully loaded the P-47 could weigh up to eight tons. A modern-day counterpart in that role, the A-10 Thunderbolt II , takes its name from the P-47.


The P-47 Thunderbolt was the product of Russian immigrant Alexander de Seversky and Georgian immigrant Alexander Kartveli , who had left their homelands to escape the Bolsheviks .

P-43 Lancer / XP-47B

In 1939, Republic Aviation designed the AP-4 demonstrator powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1830 radial engine with a belly-mounted turbocharger . While the resulting P-43 Lancer was in limited production, Republic had been working on an improved P-44 Rocket with a more powerful engine, as well as on a fighter designated the AP-10. The latter was a lightweight aircraft powered by the Allison V-1710 liquid-cooled V-12 engine and armed with 8 .50-caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns. The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) backed the project and gave it the designation XP-47.

As the war in Europe escalated in spring 1940, Republic and the USAAC concluded that the XP-44 and the XP-47 were inferior to the German fighters. Republic unsuccessfully attempted to improve the design, proposing the XP-47A. Alexander Kartveli subsequently came up with an all-new and much larger fighter which was offered to the USAAC in June 1940. The Air Corps ordered a prototype in September, to be designated the XP-47B. The XP-47A, which had almost nothing in common with the new design, was abandoned.

The XP-47B was all-metal construction (except for fabric-covered tail control surfaces) with elliptical wings. The cockpit was roomy and the pilot's seat was comfortable -- "like a lounge chair," as one pilot later put it. The pilot was provided with every convenience, including cabin air conditioning. The canopy doors hinged upward. Main and auxiliary self-sealing fuel tank s were placed under the cockpit, giving a total fuel capacity of 305 U.S. gallons (1,155 L).Power came from a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp two-row 18-cylinder radial engine producing 2,000 hp (1,500 kW) and turning a four-bladed Curtiss Electric constant-speed propeller 146 inches (3.7 m) in diameter. The loss of the AP-4 prototype to an engine fire ended Kartveli's experiments with tight-fitting cowling s, so the engine was placed in a broad cowling that opened at the front in a "horse collar"-shaped ellipse. The cowling admitted cooling air for the engine, left and right oil coolers, and the turbosupercharger intercooler system. The engine exhaust gases were routed into a pair of wastegate -equipped pipes that ran along each side of the cockpit to drive the turbosupercharger turbine at the bottom of the fuselage about halfway between cockpit and tail. At full power, the pipes glowed red at their forward ends and the turbine spun at 60,000 revolutions per minute. The complicated turbosupercharger system with its ductwork gave the XP-47B a deep fuselage, and the wings had to be mounted in a relatively high position. This was problematic since long landing gear were needed to provide ground clearance for the propeller. To reduce the size and weight of the long landing gear and so that wing-mounted machine guns could be fitted, each main gear strut was fitted with an ingenious mechanism by which it telescoped out nine inches (230 millimeters) when extended.

The XP-47B was a very large aircraft for its time with an empty weight of 9,900 pounds (4,490 kg), or 65 percent more than the YP-43. Kartveli is said to have remarked, "It will be a dinosaur, but it will be a dinosaur with good proportions." [ [http://www.topfighters.com/fighterplanes/p47/lancer.html "P-47 Thunderbolt".] Top Fighters.com. Retrieved: 12 July 2006 .] The armament consisted of eight 0.50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns, four in each wing. The guns were staggered to allow feeding from side-by-side ammunition boxes, each with a 350-round capacity. Although the British already possessed eight-gun fighters in the form of the Hurricane and the Spitfire and the twelve-gun Hawker Typhoon , these used the smaller 0.303 caliber (7.7 mm) guns.

The XP-47B first flew on 6 May 1941 with Lowry P. Brabham at the controls. Although there were minor problems, such as some cockpit smoke that turned out to be due to an oil drip, the aircraft proved impressive in its first trials. It was eventually lost in an accident on August 8, 1942, but before that mishap the prototype had achieved a level speed of 412 mph (663 kph) at 25,800 ft (7,864 m) altitude, and had demonstrated a climb from sea level to 15000 ft altitude in five minutes. [Green]

P-47B / P-47C / XP-47E / XP-47F

The XP-47B gave the newly reorganized United States Army Air Forces cause for both optimism and apprehension. While possessing good performance and firepower, the XP-47B had its share of teething problems:
*Its sheer size and limited ground-propeller clearance made for challenging takeoffs which required long runways - the pilot had to hold the tail low until considerable speed was attained on the initial run.
*The sideways-opening canopy covers had a tendency to jam.
*The multiple-gun installation, with its tight fit and cramped ammunition-belt tracks, experienced jamming problems, especially during and after hard maneuvering.
*Maneuverability was less than desired when compared to the Supermarine Spitfire and Bf-109 .
*The ignition system arced at high altitude.
*Access to the rear engine accessory pad was difficult due to the short engine mount used.
*At high altitude the ailerons "snatched and froze".
*At high speeds the control loads were deemed excessive.

Republic addressed the problems with a sliding canopy that could be jettisoned in an emergency, a pressurized ignition system, and new all-metal control surfaces (improved engine-accessory access had to wait until the P-47C introduced a new engine mount). While the engineers worked frantically to get their "dinosaur" to fly right, the USAAF ordered 171 P-47Bs. An engineering prototype P-47B was delivered in December 1941, with a production prototype following in March 1942, and the first production model provided in May. Republic continued to improve the design as P-47Bs were produced, and although all P-47Bs had the sliding canopy and the new General Electric turbosupercharger regulator for the R-2800-21 engine, features such as all-metal control surfaces were not standard at first. A modification unique to the P-47B was the radio mast behind the cockpit that was slanted forward to maintain the originally designed antenna wire length in spite of the new sliding canopy.

The P-47B not only led to the P-47C but to a few other "one off" variants. A single reconnaissance variant designated RP-47B was built. In September 1942, the 171st and last P-47B ("41-6065") was also used as a test platform under the designation XP-47E to evaluate the R-2800-59 engine, a pressurized cockpit with a hinged canopy and, eventually, a new Hamilton Standard propeller. The plans for production were cancelled after increased emphasis on low-level operations over Europe. [ [http://home.att.net/

jbaugher1/p47_5.html P-47] ] [Green 1961, p. 178.] Another P-47B was later fitted with a new laminar flow wing in search of higher performance and redesignated XP-47F.

Operational history

Initial deliveries of the Thunderbolt to the USAAF were to the 56th Fighter Group , which was also on Long Island. The 56th served as an operational evaluation unit for the new fighter. Teething problems continued. A Republic test pilot was killed in an early production P-47B when it went out of control in a dive, and crashes occurred due to failure of the tail assembly. The introduction of revised rudder and elevator balance systems and other changes corrected these problems. In spite of the problems, the USAAF was interested enough to order an additional 602 examples of the refined P-47C, with the first of the variant delivered in September 1942.

Beginning in January 1943, Thunderbolt fighters were sent to the joint Army Air Forces-civilian Millville Airport in Millville, NJ in order to train civilian and military pilots.

Essentially similar to the P-47B, the initial P-47Cs featured strengthened all-metal control surfaces, an upgraded GE turbosupercharger regulator and a short vertical radio mast. After the initial manufacture of a block of 57 P-47Cs, production moved to the P-47C-1, which had a thirteen inch fuselage extension forward of the cockpit at the firewall to correct centre of gravity problems, ease engine maintenance and allow installation of a new engine mount. There were a number of other changes, such as revised exhausts for the oil coolers, and fixes to brakes, undercarriage and electrical system as well as a redesigned rudder and elevator balance. The 55 P-47C-1s were followed by 128 P-47C-2s which introduced a centerline hardpoint with under-fuselage shackles for either a 500 pound (227 kg) bomb or a 200 U.S. gallon (758 L, 166.5 imp. gal) fuel tank that conformed to the underside of the fuselage. The main production P-47C sub-variant was the P-47C-5 which introduced a new whip antenna and the R-2800-59 engine with water-methanol injection with a war emergency power rating of 2,300 horsepower (1,716 kW). With the use of pressurized drop tank s, the P-47C was able to extend its range on missions beginning 30 July 1943 . [Green 1961, p. 173.]

P-47 enters combat

P-47Cs were sent to England for combat operations in late 1942. The 56th FG was sent overseas to join the Eighth Air Force , whose 4th and 78th Fighter Groups were soon to be equipped with the Thunderbolts. The 4th Fighter Group was built around a core of experienced American pilots, volunteers who had served with the British Royal Air Force (RAF) during 1941-43 in the Eagle Squadron s and who flew the Spitfire until January 1943. The 78th FG, formerly a P-38 group, also began conversion to the P-47 in January 1943. Commenting on the P-47's size, British pilots joked that a Thunderbolt pilot could defend himself from a Luftwaffe fighter by running around and hiding in the fuselage. Some British assumed the American P-47 nickname "Jug" was short for "Juggernaut" and began using the longer word as an alternate nickname. [Air Force Association 1998, p. 110. ] Another nickname that was used for the Thunderbolt was "T-bolt".

The first P-47 combat mission took place 10 March 1943 when the 4th FG took their aircraft on a fighter sweep over France. The mission was a failure due to radio malfunctions. All P-47s were refitted with British radios, and missions resumed 8 April . The first P-47 air combat took place 15 April with Major Don Blakeslee of the 4th FG scoring the Thunderbolt's first air victory. On 17 August , P-47s performed their first large-scale escort missions, providing B-17 bombers with both penetration and withdrawal support of the Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission , and claiming 19 kills against three losses.

By the summer of 1943, the Jug was also in service with the 12th Air Force in Italy , and it was fighting against the Japanese in the Pacific with the 348th Fighter Group flying escort missions out of Brisbane, Australia.

P-47D / P-47G / XP-47K / XP-47L

Refinements of the Thunderbolt continued, leading to the definitive P-47D, of which 12,602 examples were built. The "D" model actually consisted of a series of evolving production blocks, the last of which were visibly different from the first.

The first P-47Ds were actually the same as P-47Cs. Republic could not produce Thunderbolts fast enough at its Farmingdale plant on Long Island, so a new plant was built at Evansville, Indiana . The Evansville plant built a total of 110 P-47Ds, which were completely identical to P-47C-2s. Farmingdale aircraft were identified by the "-RE" suffix after the block number, while Evansville aircraft were given the "-RA" suffix.

The P-47D-1 through P-47D-6, the P-47D-10, and the P-47D-11 successively incorporated changes such as the addition of more engine cooling flaps around the back of the cowl to reduce the engine overheating problems that had been seen in the field. Engines and engine subsystems saw refinement, as did the fuel, oil and hydraulic systems. Additional armor protection was also added for the pilot.

The P-47D-15 was produced in response to requests by combat units for increased range. The internal fuel capacity was increased to 375 U.S. gallons (1,421 L) and the bomb racks under the wings were made "wet" (equipped with fuel plumbing) to allow a jettisonable drop tank pressurized by vented exhaust air to be carried under each wing, in addition to the belly tank. Five different auxiliary tanks were fitted to the Thunderbolt during its career:
*200 U.S. gallon (758 L) ferry tank, a conformal tub-shaped jettisonable tank made of paper, which barely cleared the ground on grass airfields, was used as an interim measure between 30 July and 31 August 1943
*75 U.S. gallon (284 L) drop tank, a teardrop-shaped steel tank produced for the P-39 , was adapted to the P-47 beginning 31 August 1943 , initially carried on a belly shackle but used in pairs in 1944 as underwing tanks
*108-gallon (409 L) drop tank, a cylindrical paper tank of British design and manufacture, used as a belly tank beginning in September 1943 and a wing tank in April 1944
*150 U.S. gallon (568 L) drop tank, a steel tank first used as a belly 20 February 1944 , and an underwing tank 22 May 1944
*215 U.S. gallon (810 L) belly tank, a wide, flat steel tank developed by VIII Service Command that allowed performance-degrading wing pylons to be removed, was first used in February 1945.

The tanks made of plastic-impregnated (laminated) paper could not store fuel for an extended period of time, but they worked quite well for the time it took to fly a single mission. These tanks were cheaper, lighter in weight, and were useless to the enemy if recovered after being dropped — not only did they break apart, but they did not provide the enemy with any reusable materials that could be scavenged for their own war effort. With the increased fuel capacity, the P-47 was now able to perform escort missions deep into enemy territory. A drawback to their use was that fighters could not land with the tanks in place because of the hazard of rupture and explosion. Fighters recalled from a mission or that did not jettison for some reason were required to drop paper tanks into a designated "dump" area at their respective fields, resulting in substantial losses of aviation fuel.

The P-47D-16, D-20, D-22 and D-23 were similar to the P-47D-15 with minor improvements in fuel system, engine subsystems, a jettisonable canopy, and bulletproof windshield . Beginning with the block 22 aircraft, the original narrow-chorded Curtiss propeller was replaced by propellers with larger blades, the Evansville plant switching to a new Curtiss propeller with a diameter of 13 feet (3.96 m) and the Long Island plant using a Hamilton Standard propeller with a diameter of 13 feet 2 inches (4.01 m). With the bigger propellers having barely six inches of ground clearance, Thunderbolt pilots had to learn to be careful on takeoffs to keep the tail down until they obtained adequate ground clearance, and on landings to flare the aircraft properly. Failure to do so damaged both the propeller and the runway. Even with two Republic plants rolling out the P-47, the USAAF still was not getting as many Thunderbolts as they wanted, consequently, an arrangement was made with Curtiss to build the aircraft under license in a plant in Buffalo, New York . Most of the Curtiss Thunderbolts were intended for use in advanced flight training. The Curtiss aircraft were all designated P-47G, and a "-CU" suffix was used to distinguish them from other production. The first P-47G was completely identical to the P-47C, the P-47G-1 was identical to the P-47C-1, while the following P-47G-5, P-47G-10, and P-47G-15 sub-variants were comparable to the P-47D-1, P-47D-5 and P-47D-10 respectively. Two P-47G-15s were built with the cockpit extended forward to just before the leading edge of the wing to provide twin tandem seating, designated TP-47G. The second crew position was accommodated by substituting a much smaller main fuel tank. The "Doublebolt" did not go into production but similar modifications were made in the field to older P-47s, which were then used as squadron "hacks" (miscellaneous utility aircraft). Curtiss built a total of 354 P-47Gs.

Bubbletop P-47s

All the P-47s to this point had a "razorback" canopy configuration with a tall fuselage spine behind the pilot which resulted in poor visibility to the rear. The British also had this problem with their fighter aircraft, and had devised the bulged "Malcolm hood" canopy for the Spitfire as an initial solution. This was fitted in the field to many North American P-51 Mustang s, and to a handful of P-47Ds (and far more on P-47Bs and P-47Cs). However, the British then came up with a much better solution, devising an all-round vision "bubble" canopy for the Hawker Typhoon . USAAF officials liked the bubble canopy , and quickly adapted it to American fighters, including the P-51 and the Thunderbolt. The first P-47 with a bubble canopy was a modified P-47D-5 completed in the summer of 1943 and redesignated XP-47K. Another older P-47D was modified to provide an internal fuel capacity of 370 U.S. gallons (1,402 L) and given the designation XP-47L. The bubble canopy and increased fuel capacity were then rolled into production together, resulting in the block 25 P-47D (rather than a new variant designation). First deliveries to combat groups began in May 1944.

It was followed by similar bubble-top variants, including the P-47D-26, D-27, D-28 and D-30. Improvements added in this series included engine refinements, more internal fuel capacity, and the addition of dive recovery flaps. Cutting down the rear fuselage to accommodate the bubble canopy produced yaw instability, and the P-47D-40 introduced a dorsal fin extension in the form of a narrow triangle running from the vertical tailplane to the radio aerial. The fin fillet was retrofitted in the field to earlier P-47D bubble-top variants. The P-47D-40 also featured provisions for ten "zero length" stub launchers for 5 inch (127 mm) High Velocity Aerial Rockets (HVARs), as well as the new K-14 computing gunsight. This was a license-built copy of the British Ferranti GGS Mark IID computing gyroscopic sight which allowed the pilot to dial in target wingspan and range, and would then move the gunsight reticle to compensate for the required deflection.

The bubbletop P-47s were nicknamed "Superbolts" by combat pilots in the field. [Freeman 2000, p. 81.]

P-47 as a fighter-bomber

By 1944, the Thunderbolt was in combat with the USAAF in all its operational theaters, except the Battle of the Aleutian Islands . With increases in fuel capacity as the type was refined, the range of escort missions over Europe steadily increased until the P-47 was able to accompany bombers in raids all the way into Germany. On the way back from the raids, pilots shot up ground targets of opportunity, and also used belly shackles to carry bombs on short-range missions, which led to the realization that the P-47 could perform a dual-function on escort missions as a fighter-bomber. Even with its complicated turbosupercharger system it could absorb a lot of damage, and its eight machine guns could inflict heavy damage on lightly armored targets. The P-47 gradually became the USAAF's best fighter-bomber, carrying the 500 pound (227 kg) bombs, the triple-tube M-8 4.5 inch (115 mm) rocket launchers, and eventually HVARs. From the invasion of Europe on 6 June 1944 , to VE day on 7 May 1945 , the Thunderbolt units claimed destroyed: 86,000 railway cars, 9,000 locomotives, 6,000 armoured fighting vehicles, and 68,000 trucks. [http://www.nasm.si.edu/research/aero/aircraft/repubP47.htm Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum] Retrieved: 1 April 2007 .]

Although the P-51 Mustang replaced the P-47 in the long-range escort role in Europe, the Thunderbolt still ended the war with 3,752 air-to-air kills claimed in over 746,000 sorties of all types, at the cost of 3,499 P-47s to all causes in combat. [ [http://www.museumofflight.org/Collection/Aircraft.asp?RecordKey=0D778AE9-8768-421A-A133-68393123B13A Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, Museum of Flight] Retrieved: 12 July 2006 .] In Europe in the critical first three months of 1944 when the German aircraft industry and Berlin were heavily attacked, the P-47 shot down more German fighters than did the P-51 (570 out of 873), and shot down approximately 900 of the 1,983 claimed during the first six months of 1944. [USAF Historical Study 70, "Tactical Operations of the Eighth Air Force 6 June 1944 to 8 May 1945 ", Appendix 3, p. 241.] In Europe, the Thunderbolt flew more sorties (423,435) than P-51s, P-38s and P-40s combined.

By the end of the war, the 56th FG was the only 8th Air Force unit still flying the P-47, by preference, instead of the P-51. The unit claimed 665.5 air victories and 311 ground kills, at the cost of 128 aircraft. [ [http://usaaf.com/8thaf/fighter/56fg.HTM 8th Air Force 56th FG, U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II, 18 June 2004] Retrieved: 14 July 2006 .] Lieutenant Colonel Francis S. "Gabby" Gabreski scored 31 victories, [ [http://www.au.af.mil/au/goe/eaglebios/88bios/gabres88.htm Francis S. "Gabby" Gabreski, USAF Air University, Maxwell-Gunter AFB, 17 April 2006] Retrieved: 14 July 2006 .] including three ground kills, Captain Bob Johnson scored 27 (with one unconfirmed probable kill leading to some giving his tally as 28), [ [http://www.warbirdsresourcegroup.org/URG/johnson.html Robert S. Johnson by Scott Rose, Warbirds Resource Group, 11 June 2006] Retrieved: 14 July 2006 .] and 56th FG Commanding Officer Colonel Hubert Zemke scored 17.75 kills. [ [http://www.acepilots.com/usaaf_zemke.html Col. Hubert 'Hub' Zemke, Acepilots.com, 29 July 2003] Retrieved: 14 July 2006 . Note: Zemke flew a P-38 for three of his kills.] Despite being the sole remaining P-47 group in the 8th Air Force, the 56th FG remained its top-scoring group in aerial victories throughout the war.

In the Pacific, Colonel Neel E. Kearby of the 5th Air Force destroyed 22 Japanese aircraft and was awarded the Medal of Honor for an action in which he downed six enemy fighters on a single mission. He was shot down and killed over Biak in March 1944. [ [https://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/PopTopics/MOH-bios/Kearby.html Colonel Neel Earnest Kearby Air Force History, Air Force Historical Studies Office, 20 January 2004 ] Retrieved: 14 July 2006 .]

XP-47H / XP-47J

Republic made several attempts to further improve the P-47D:

Two XP-47Hs were built. They were major reworkings of existing razorback P-47Ds to accommodate a Chrysler IV-2220 -11 water-cooled 16-cylinder inverted vee engine. However, such large inline engines did not prove to be especially effective.

The XP-47J began as a November 1942 request to Republic for a high-performance version of the Thunderbolt using a lighter airframe and an uprated engine with water injection and fan cooling. Kartveli designed an aircraft fitted with a tight-cowled Pratt & Whitney R-2800 -57(C) with a war emergency rating of 2,800 horsepower (2,090 kW), reduced armament of six 0.50 inch (12.7 mm) machine guns, a new and lighter wing, and many other changes. The first and only XP-47J was first flown in late November 1943. When fitted with a GE CH-5 turbosupercharger, the XP-47J achieved a top speed of 440 knots (505 mph, 813 km/h) in level flight in August 1944, making it one of the fastest piston engine fighters ever built. However, by that time Republic had moved on to a new concept, the XP-72.

The P-47M was a more conservative attempt to come up with a higher-performance ("Sprint") version of the Thunderbolt, seeking parity with the newly introduced German jet aircraft and V-1 flying bombs. Four P-47D-27-RE airframes (s/n "42-27385 / 42-27388") were modified into prototype YP-47Ms by fitting the R-2800-57(C) engine and the GE CH-5 turbo-supercharger, a combination which could produce 2,800 hp (2,089 kW) at 32,500 ft when using Wartime Emergency Power (water injection). Air brakes were added to the wing's lower surfaces to allow braking after a dive onto its prey. The YP-47M had a top speed of 410 knots (473 mph, 761 km/h) and it was put into limited production with 130 (sufficient for one group) built. However, the type suffered serious teething problems in the field due to the highly-tuned engine. Engines were unable to reach operating temperatures and power settings and frequently failed in early flights from a variety of causes: ignition harnesses cracked at high altitudes, severing electrical connections between the magneto and distributor, and carburetor valve diaphragms also failed. Persistent oil tank ruptures in replacement engines were found to be the result of inadequate protection against salt-water corrosion during transshipment. By the time the bugs were worked out, the war in Europe was nearly over. The entire total of 130 P-47Ms were delivered to the 56th Fighter Group , and were responsible for all four of that group's jet shoot-downs. Twelve were lost in operational crashes with the 56th Group resulting in 11 deaths, two after VE Day, and two ("44-21134" on 13 April 1945 and "44-21230" on 16 April 1945 ) were shot down in combat, both by ground fire.

The second YP-47M (of the batch of four converted P-47Ds) was later fitted with new wings and served as the prototype for the P-47N.

The P-47N was the last Thunderbolt variant to be produced. It was designed as an escort fighter for the B-29 Superfortress bombers flying raids on the Japanese home islands. Increased internal fuel capacity and drop tanks had done much to extend the Thunderbolt's range during its evolution, and the only other way to expand the fuel capacity was to put fuel tanks into the wings. Thus, a new wing was designed with two 50 U.S. gallon (190 L) fuel tanks. The second YP-47M with this wing flew in September 1944. The redesign proved successful in extending range to about 2,000 miles (3,200 km), and the squared-off wingtips improved the roll rate. The P-47N entered mass production with the uprated R-2800-77(C) engine, with a total of 1,816 built. The very last Thunderbolt to be built, a P-47N-25, rolled off the production line in October 1945. Thousands more had been on order, but production was halted with the end of the war in August. At the end of production, cost of a Thunderbolt was $83,000 in 1945 U.S. dollar s.

Postwar service

The USAF Strategic Air Command had P-47 Thunderbolts in service from 1946 through 1947.

The P-47 served with the Army Air Forces ( United States Air Force after 1947) until 1949, and with the Air National Guard until 1953, receiving the designation F-47 in 1948. P-47s also served as spotters for rescue aircraft such as the OA-10 Catalina and Boeing B-17H.

The F-51 Mustang was used by the USAF during the Korean War , mainly in the close air support role. The F-47 was not deployed to Korea. Since the Mustang was more vulnerable to being shot down, (and many were lost due to anti-aircraft fire), some former F-47 pilots have suggested the more durable Thunderbolt should have been sent to Korea however the F-51D was available in greater numbers in the USAAF/ANG inventories [ [http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/summary_0199-3185986_ITM Air Power History] ] .

The type was provided to many Latin American air forces some of which operated it into the 1960s. Small numbers of P-47s were also provided to China, Iran , Turkey and Yugoslavia.

A total of 15,686 Thunderbolts of all types were built, making it one of the most heavily produced fighter aircraft in history. A number of P-47s have survived to the present day, and a few are still flying.

Flying the Thunderbolt

All P-47s had an inherent ground-handling challenge exacerbated by torque of the large propeller and the large nose that was difficult to see over during taxiing. Ground crewmen sometimes sat on the wing and used hand signals to provide directions to the pilot. The heavy weight resulted in a long takeoff run and, once in the air, the P-47 was not particularly maneuverable, though it became more agile, in comparison to most other fighters, at high altitudes. One Thunderbolt pilot compared it to flying a bathtub around the sky. It did possess a good roll rate and climb/dive performance. Its success in combat depended on utilizing energy-conserving "dive-and-zoom" tactics. The Thunderbolt was also one of the fastest-diving aircraft of the war — it could reach speeds of 480 knots (550 mph, 885 km/h). Major Robert S. "Bob" Johnson described the experience of diving the big fighter by writing, "the Thunderbolt "howled" and ran for the earth". [ [http://experts.about.com/e/p/p/P-47_Thunderbolt.htm "P-47 Thunderbolt".] Retrieved: 14 July 2006 .] When his unit (4th Fighter Group) was being converted from Spitfire s to P-47s, ace Don Blakeslee said, referring to the P-47's vaunted ability to dive on its prey, "It ought to be able to dive. It certainly can't climb" [Sims, Edward H. "American Aces of World War II".London: Macdonald, 1958.] (his experience with P-47s was before the paddle-blade propeller was incorporated). Some P-47 pilots claimed to have broken the sound barrier , but later research revealed that due to the pressure buildup inside the pitot tube at high speeds, airspeed readings became unpredictably exaggerated. On the positive side, the P-47 was rugged and well-armed. It could sustain a large amount of damage and still be able to get its pilot back to base. Quentin C. Aanenson documented his experiences flying the Thunderbolt on D-Day and subsequently in the European Theater in his video documentary "A Fighter Pilot's Story", aired on PBS in 1994.

P-47 in non-U.S. service

P-47s were operated by several Allied air arms during World War II. The RAF received 240 razorback P-47Ds which they designated "Thunderbolt Mark I," and 590 bubbletop P-47D-25s, designated "Thunderbolt Mark II"s. With no need for another high-altitude fighter, they were adopted for ground attack. Once the Thunderbolts were cleared for use in 1944, they were operated against the Japanese in Burma by 16 RAF squadrons of the South East Asia Command from India . Operations were Army support (operating as "cab rank"s to be called in when needed), attacks on enemy airfields and lines of communication, and escort sorties. The Thunderbolts were armed with three 500 pound (227 kg) bombs or, in some cases, British "60 pound" (27 kg) RP-3 rocket projectiles. Long range fuel tanks gave five hours of endurance. Thunderbolts remained in RAF service until October 1946 those squadrons not disbanded outright after the war re-equipped with British-built aircraft.

During the Italian campaign, the Brazilian Expeditionary Force flew a total of 67 P-47Ds in combat of which 15 were lost to German flak . The " 1º Grupo de Aviação de Caça " ( 1st Brazilian Fighter Squadron ) flew a total of 445 missions from November 1944 to May 1945, with 5 pilots being killed in action. In the early 80s the " 1º Grupo de Aviação de Caça " was awarded the " Presidential Unit Citation " by the American Government in recognition for its achievements in WWII.

In 1945, the Mexican "Escuadron Aereo de Pelea 201" (201st Fighter Squadron) operated P-47Ds as part of the U.S. Fifth Air Force in the Philippines . In 791 sorties against Japanese forces, the 201st lost no pilots or aircraft to enemy action. [ Velasco, E. Alfonso, Jr. [http://ipmsstockholm.org/magazine/2002/12/stuff_eng_velasco_p47.htm "Aztec Eagle - P-47D of the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force".] Stockholm: IPMS Stockholm, 9 January 2006 . Retrieved: 14 July 2006 .]

The French Air Force received 446 P-47Ds from 1943, these aircraft saw extensive action in France and Germany and again in the 1950s during the Algerian War of Independence .

Over Italy, in 1943–45, P-47s were initially met as enemies in fierce aerial battles. During the devastating attacks made by U.S. bombers over Fiat on 25 April 1944 , three G.55 s were downed by P-47s without loss, although the Italian fighters managed before to shoot down several bombers. In another battle in spring 1945, P-47s shot down five G.55s and C.205Vs downed for no losses. Postwar, the Italian Air Force (AMI) received 75 P-47D-25s (sent to 5˚ Stormo, and 99 to the 51˚). These machines were delivered between 1947 and 1950. From 1953 they were replaced by F-84s. AMI P-47s were not well liked as Italian pilots found them too heavy and too expensive to maintain. Nevertheless, the stability, payload and high speed were appreciated. Most importantly, they were a good platform to set up the transition to heavier jet fighters, including the F-84 Thunderjet , starting in 1953. [Sgarlato 2005]

The Soviet Union also received 203 P-47Ds. [ Hardesty, 1991, p. 253.] The fighters were assigned to high-altitude air defense over major cities in rear areas. Unlike their Western counterparts, the Soviet Air Force made no notable use of the P-47 as a ground attack aircraft, depending instead on the P-39 , P-63 and their own widely-produced Ilyushin Il-2 .

A large number of surviving airframes exist in flyable condition as well as in museum collections worldwide.

pecifications (P-47D Thunderbolt)

aircraft specifications
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=prop

length main=36 ft 1 in
length alt=11.00 m
span main=40 ft 9 in
span alt=12.42 m
height main=14 ft 8 in
height alt=4.47 m
area main=300 ft²
area alt=27.87 m²
empty weight main=10,000 lb
empty weight alt=4,536 kg
loaded weight main=17,500 lb
loaded weight alt=7,938 kg
max takeoff weight main=17,500 lb
max takeoff weight alt=7,938 kg
engine (prop)= Pratt & Whitney R-2800 -59
type of prop=twin-row radial engine
number of props=1
power main=2,535 hp
power alt=1,890 kW
max speed main=433 mph at 30,000 ft
max speed alt=697 km/h at 9,145 m
range main=800 miles combat, 1,800 mi ferry
range alt=1,290 km / 2,900 km
ceiling main=43,000 ft
ceiling alt=13,100 m
climb rate main=3,120 ft/min
climb rate alt=15.9 m/s
loading main=
loading alt=284.8 kg/m²
power/mass main=
power/mass alt=238 W/kg
*8 x 0.5 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine gun s
*Up to 2,500 lb (1134 kg) of bombs
*10 x 5 in (127 mm) unguided rockets

Popular culture

* "Thunderbolt", 1947 Documentary (Color), Directors: John Sturges / William Wyler, Cast: James Stewart, Lloyd Bridges, Narrator: Robert Lowery. [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038171/ "Thunderbolt"] ]
*" Fighter Squadron ," (1948, Color), Director: Raoul Walsh, Cast: Edmond O'Brien, Robert Stack. Depicts a P-47 unit based loosely on the 4th Fighter Group (sometimes known as "Blakeslee's Bachelors"). The 4th FG flew P-47s in combat from April 1943 to March 1944, when they converted to P-51 Mustangs. In this film, the German Bf 109s are actually painted P-51s. Much of what was depicted with the P-47s (e.g., the fighter escorts going all the way to Berlin, one pilot bailing out over enemy territory and his buddy landing to pick him up) actually happened with P-51s in real life. [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040353/ "Fighter Squadron" (1948)] ]
* Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů paid a tribute to the aircraft with his scherzo for orchestra. It was premiered 19 December 1945 in Washington, D.C. .
* Steve Earle 's song "Johnny Come Lately" is about an American P-47 pilot in World War II it contains a verse "My P-47 is a pretty good ship/ She took a round comin' cross the channel last trip."
* "Thunderbolts: The Conquest of the Reich" 2001 Documentary (color) The History Channel. Director Lawrence Bond depicted the last months of World War II over Germany as told by four P-47 pilots of the 362nd Fighter Group using original, all color 1945 footage.

* Republic P-43
* Republic XP-72

similar aircraft=
* Focke-Wulf Fw 190
* Grumman F6F Hellcat
* Hawker Typhoon
* Hawker Tempest
* Polikarpov I-185
* Vought F4U Corsair
* Mitsubishi A7M

* List of military aircraft of the United States
* List of fighter aircraft


* Air Force Association. "Air Force Fifty". Nashville, Tennessee: Turner Publishing, 1998 (limited edition). ISBN 1-56311-409-7.
* Cain, Charles W. and Mike Gerram."Fighters of World War II". Profile Publications, 1979.
* Davis, Larry."P-47 Thunderbolt in Action, Squadron/Signal Publications (#67)". Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, 1984. ISBN 0-89747-161-X.
* Donald, David, ed. "American Warplanes of the Second World War."London: Airtime Publications, 1995. ISBN 1-84013-392-9.
* Freeman, Roger A. "56th Fighter Group". London: Osprey, 2000. ISBN 1-84176-047-1.
* Green, William. "Fighters Vol. 2" (Warplanes of the Second World War). New York: Doubleday and Company Inc., 1961.
* Hagedorn, Dan. "Republic P-47 Thunderbolt: The Final Chapter: Latin American Air Forces Service". St. Paul, MN: Phalanx Publishing Co. Ltd., 1991. ISBN 0-9625860-1-3.
* Hardesty, Von. "Red Phoenix: The Rise of Soviet Air Power 1941-1945". Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1991 (first edition 1982) ISBN 0-87474-510-1.
* Mondey, David. "American Aircraft of World War II."Edison, New Jersey: Book Sales, 1996. ISBN 0-7858-1361-6.
* Mondey, David. "The Concise Guide to American Aircraft of World War II." London: Chartwell Books Inc., 1994. ISBN 0-7858-0147-2.
* Sgarlato, Nico and Giorgio Gibertini. "P-47" (in Italian). "I Grandi Aerei Storici n.14", January 2005. Parma, Italy: Delta Editrice. ISSN 1720-0636.

----vectorsite. The original version (placed in the public domain) can be accessed at: [http://www.vectorsite.net/avp47.html]

External links

* [http://www.p47pilots.com P47Pilots.com -- P-47 Pilot Biographies, Pilot Stories, Photo Gallery]
* [http://www.cradleofaviation.org/history/aircraft/p-47/1.html The Cradle of Aviation Museum -- history of the P-47]
* [http://www.ipmsstockholm.org/magazine/2001/05/stuff_eng_ibes_p47.htm "South American 'Jug'. The P-47 Thunderbolt of the Fuerza Aerea de Chile (FACH)", IPMS Stockholm]

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The Great War

The next big trend – which you can see unfolding right now if you look around, is Great War armor. Things jumpstarted last fall with Meng’s release of the French FT light tank in 1/35, and Takom’s release of the same in 1/16. Since then, Takom has tossed teh truly ungainly St. Chamond over the wall, while Meng has followed up with a just-missed-it Char 2c. Sometime this summer, Tamiya is set to drop their own bomb with a new-tool British Mk.IV Male.

UPDATE: Tamiya will not be the only one offering a new Mk.IV. Takom has just announced they will be releasing a Mk.IV Male and Mk.IV Female this summer!

I think this is coming about due to a confluence of three factors.

First, this is essentially greenfield territory. There’s no excellent Dragon kit or competent-but-dated Tamiya kit to compete against. Until last fall, the only real player in Great War armor was Emhar. And their kits are, well…if you have any I’d sell them on eBay right now before they become worthless.

Second, Wingnut Wings has spent the last several years proving just how popular World War I subjects can be, when backed by solid kits.

Third, 2014 marks the centennial anniversary of the Great War…so the next four years will be a general high tide for interest in all things World War I.

Obviously, this trend still has a ways to go before it plays itself out. But the groundwork is definitely laid, and I anticipate some pretty cool releases over the next two or three years.

Hasegawa’s 1/48 P-47D Razorback

A note on the markings and weathering I chose for my model. I chose to represent 42-75855 just before these pictures were taken, but after the D-Day Stripes were painted, over for no other reason than I could not find a Malcolm Hood canopy that would fit. Clearly the original canopy frame was painted red at some point, which I assume to before the Malcolm Hood canopy was fitted. This line of supposition also meant that the weathering would be scaled back from these pictures but likely not too much.

Upper surfaces painted with various shades of dark green and olive wrap to represent the weathered upper surfaces. I’ve deliberately applied a soft and ragged edge to the green where it over-sprays the yellow ID stripe on the wing. Still to apply is the black walk area wing root. Fast forward to the finished model. The yellow ID and S/N are painted, the insignia are decals. I overpaid a very ragged wing walk on both wing roots and dry brushed to create the blurred and haphazard demarkation seen on the photos. I used Bare Metal Foil for the aileron uppers surfaces and was pleased with how they turned out, there really is n substitute for real metal when painting metal.


References and Credits


Table of P-47 variants
Variant Number built Serial number(s) Notes
XP-47 1 40-3051 Prototype cancelled during construction
XP-47A 1 40-3052 Prototype cancelled during construction
Total XP-47, XP-47A 2
XP-47B 1 40-3052 (serial number transferred from abortive XP-47A) Prototype R-2800-21 engine
Total XP-47B 1
P-47B-RE 171 41-5895/6065 R-2800-21 engine modified metal-covered ailerons trim tabs sliding canopy windshield defroster 41-5938 converted to XP-47F with larger laminar flow wing 41-6065 converted to XP-47E with pressurized cockpit and hinged canopy
Total P-47B 171
P-47C-RE 58 41-6066/6123 R-2800-21 engine strengthened tail surfaces
P-47C-1-RE 54 41-6124/6177 R-2800-21 engine eight-inch extension added to fuselage forward of cockpit
P-47C-2-RE 128 41-6178/6305 R-2800-21 engine belly shackle provided for bomb or fuel tank
P-47C-5-RE 362 41-6306/6667 R-2800-21 engine new radio, instruments, and antenna cockpit heater
Total P-47C 602
P-47D-1-RE 105 42-7853/7957 R-2800-21 engine nearly identical to P-47C-2-RE additional cowl flaps and pilot armor
P-47D-1-RA 114 42-22250/22363 R-2800-21 engine the first variant of the P-47 built at Republic’s new factory in Evansville, Indiana identical to P-47D-1-RE
P-47D-2-RE 445 42-7958/8402 R-2800-21 engine turbocharger shroud removed
P-47D-2-RA 200 42-22364/22563 R-2800-21 engine identical to P-47D-2-RE
P-47D-3-RA 100 42-22564/22663 R-2800-21 engine minor upgrade to D-2-RA
P-47D-4-RA 200 42-22664/22863 R-2800-21 engine Evansville-built P-47D-5-RE
P-47D-5-RE 300 42-8403/8702 R-2800-21 engine used General Electric C-21 supercharger and had provision for water injection belly shackle for bomb or fuel tank reintroduced and was standard on all P-47s from then on 42-8702 fitted with bubble canopy and redesigned XP-47K
P-47D-6-RE 350 42-74615/74964 R-2800-21 engine minor changes to electrical system
P-47D-10-RE 250 42-74965/75214 New R-2800-63 engine and changes to water injection system
P-47D-11-RE 400 42-75215/75614 R-2800-63 engine contained all features introduced between the D-5 and D-10 water injection linked to throttle lever
P-47D-11-RA 250 42-22864/23113 R-2800-63 engine identical to P-47D-11-RE
P-47D-15-RE 446 42-75615/75814, 42-76119/76364 R-2800-63 engine first model of P-47 with underwing pylons stronger wings
P-47D-15-RA 157 42-23143/23299 R-2800-63 engine 42-23297 and 42-23298 converted to XP-47H with Chrysler IV-2220-11 inverted-vee engines identical to P-47D-15-RE
P-47D-16-RE 254 42-75865/76118 R-2800-63 engine minor changes to fuel system
P-47D-16-RA 29 42-23114/23142 R-2800-63 engine identical to P-47D-16-RE
P-47D-20-RE 299 42-25274/25322, 42-76365/76614 New R-2800-59 engine modified underwing pylons 42-76614 fitted with increased fuel capacity and bubble canopy as XP-47L
P-47D-20-RA 187 43-25254/25440 R-2800-59 engine identical to P-47D-20-RE
P-47D-21-RE 216 42-25323/25538 R-2800-59 engine changes to water injection system
P-47D-21-RA 224 43-25441/25664 Identical to P-47D-21-RE
P-47D-22-RE 850 42-25539/26388 R-2800-59 engine Farmingdale factory switched to Hamilton Standard paddle-bladed propeller
P-47D-23-RA 889 42-27389/28188, 43-25665/25753 R-2800-59 engine Evansville factory switched to Curtiss Electric paddle-bladed propeller
P-47D-25-RE 385 42-26389/26773 R-2800-59 engine bubble canopy fuel capacity increased from 305 to 370 gallons
P-47D-26-RA 250 42-28189/28438 R-2800-59 engine identical to P-47D-25-RE
P-47D-27-RE 615 42-26774/27388 R-2800-59 engine improved water injection system
P-47D-28-RE 750 44-19558/20307 R-2800-59 engine Farmingdale factory switched to Curtiss Electric paddle-bladed propeller radio compass added
P-47D-28-RA 1,028 42-28439/29466 R-2800-59 engine Identical to P-47D-28-RE
P-47D-30-RE 800 44-20308/21107 R-2800-59 engine Dive brakes added under wings
P-47D-30-RA 1,800 44-32668/33867, 44-89684/90283 R-2800-59 engine Identical to P-47D-30-RE
P-47D-40-RA 665 44-90284/90483, 45-49090/49554 R-2800-59 engine Dorsal fin added to vertical stabilizer
Total P-47D 12,558
P-47G-CU 20 42-24920/24939 P-47Gs were built by Curtiss and used for stateside training the P-47G-CU was identical to the P-47C-RE
P-47G-1-CU 40 42-24940/24979 Identical to P-47C-1-RE
P-47G-5-CU 60 42-24980/25039 Identical to P-47D-1-RE
P-47G-10-CU 80 42-25040/25119 Identical to P-47D-5-RE
P-47G-15-CU 154 42-25120/25273 Identical to P-47D-10-RE two converted to TP-47G trainer variant
Total P-47G 354
XP-47J 1 43-46952 Lightweight prototype newly-built airframe reduced armament
Total XP-47J 1
P-47M-1-RE 130 44-21108/21237 High-speed variant using R-2800-57 engine designed to combat German jet and rocket-powered aircraft
Total P-47M 130
P-47N-1-RE 550 44-87784/88333 Long-range variant designed for service in the Pacific Theater R-2800-57 engine larger wings with squared-off tips increased fuel capacity automation of some engine controls
P-47N-5-RE 550 44-88334/88883 R-2800-57 engine “zero-length” stubs for 5-inch rockets autopilot
P-47N-15-RE 200 44-88884/89083 R-2800-73 or -77 engine new bomb rack and gunsight autopilot not fitted to this model
P-47N-20-RE 200 44-89084/89283 R-2800-73 or -77 engine backup fuel system added
P-47N-25-RE 167 44-89284/89450 R-2800-73 or -77 engine strengthened wings and more automation of engine control systems
P-47N-20-RA 149 45-49975/50123 R-2800-73 or -77 engine the final P-47Ns, and hence the final P-47s, were built by the Evansville factory
Total P-47N 1,816
Total, all types 15,636

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Hell Hawks!
The Untold Story of the American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler's Wehrmacht.
Dorr & Jones. This book presents the World War II history of the 365th Fighter Group "Hell Hawks" - who flew the rugged, heavily armed P-47 Thunderbolt in close support of Eisenhower's ground forces advancing across France and into Germany - and shows you how much they had in common with the GIs they supported. 320 pages, B&W photographs, 6"x 9", hardcover.

Hell Hawks ! is the story of the band of young American fighter pilots, and their gritty, close-quarters fight against Hitler's vaunted military. The "Hell Hawks" were the men and machines of the 365th Fighter Group. Beginning just prior to D-Day, June 6, 1944, the groups young pilots (most were barely twenty years old and fresh from flight training in the United States) flew in close support of Eisenhower's ground forces as they advanced across France and into Germany. They flew the rugged, heavily armed P-47 Thunderbolt, aka the Jug. Living in tents amid the cold mud of their front-line airfields, the 365ths daily routine had much in common with that of the G.I.s they supported. Their war only stopped with the Nazi surrender on May 8, 1945. During their year in combat, the Hell Hawks paid a heavy to win the victory. Sixty-nine pilots and airmen died in the fight across the continent. The Groups 1,241 combat missions -- the daily confrontation of sudden, violent death -- forged bonds between these men that remain strong sixty years later. This book will tell their story, the story of the Hell Hawks.

Book Description
The story of the band of young American fighter pilots, and their gritty, close-quarters fight against Hitler's vaunted military. The "Hell Hawks" were the men and machines of the 365th Fighter Group. Beginning just prior to D-Day, June 6, 1944, the group’s young pilots (most were barely twenty years old and fresh from flight training in the United States) flew in close support of Eisenhower's ground forces as they advanced across France and into Germany.

A personal message from the Author.

I'm astonished to find that the best book ever written about a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter group in combat does not appear on this page:
"Hell Hawks!" is our Stephen Ambrose-style history of a "band of brothers with planes." It's a recounting in their words of the untold war fought by Americans of the 365th Fighter Group . They represent tens of thousands who served in similar groups.
The book is a general interest look at our recent history, It's not technical or specialized: It's a story that can interest anyone.
Our guys went ashore at Normandy and fought across Europe , through the Battle of the Bulge and on to victory.
Co-author Thomas D. Jones (Tom) and I spent five years researching and interviewing 171 of these ordinary men who became heroes. Tom is an Air Force Academy distinguished graduate, a former B-52 pilot, and a former astronaut who flew four shuttle missions. I'm an Air Force veteran, a retired U. S. diplomat, and an author. Tom and I worked together to tell this story for the first time.
The P-47 Thunderbolt was built in greater numbers than any other American fighter, but rarely receives recognition. The men who supported, maintained and flew the P-47 while slogging it out on the European continent waged a grim, gritty, mostly air-to-ground war in which the enemy was personal, the fighting point-blank. The human spirit triumphed with a little help from the P-47.
"Hell Hawks" uses never before published photos and first-hand personal accounts.
Best wishes

The extraordinary years of World War II unfold through the eyes of three people, who confront challenges and opportunities they had not imagined.Louise Mitchell learned to fly when she was 19, but for 11 years, she has done little more than give people rides at a small airfield near Sioux City, Iowa. Then a letter arrives with news that a squadron of women pilots is being formed to deliver planes for the Army.Tom Clark has worked for Franklin Roosevelt for more than a decade. As the threat of war looms, he becomes the eyes and ears of the president on a variety of missions. Anne Wilson, a beautiful and brilliant journalist, returns from defeated France to take a job with the Washington Post and resumes her romance with Tom. They are discussing their future together when the news of Pearl Harbor arrives.In this carefully researched novel, we meet numerous historical figures, including Claire Chennault of the Flying Tigers, and Nancy Love, leader of the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. A thoroughly enjoyable way to absorb history!

In this carefully researched novel, you'll meet numerous historical figures, including Claire Chennault of the Flying Tigers, Nancy Love, leader of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, Generals Douglas MacArthur and Dwight Eisenhower, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Russian Premier Josef Stalin. A thoroughly enjoyable way to absorb history!
Ken Libbey's home page

Kearby's Thunderbolts

The 348th Fighter Group in World War II

Attack & Conquer

Stanaway & Hickey.

P-47 Pilots Glenn Subtitled: The Fighter-Bomber Boys. Join the Fighter-Bomber Boys as they terrorize the crack German ground troops and battle-wise panzer divisions. Live with a squadron of these glory hungry air warriors who dive into battle at 5mph with their bombs, and fight at treetop level with their machine guns. Glenn vividly conveys what it was like to fly the magnificent Thunderbolt into combat, and tells how WWIIs maniacal P-47 pilots lived life in the fast lane, on and off duty.

Report of Joint Fighter Conf.
Hardbound Book
NAS Patuxent River, MD 16-23 Oct. 1944. A must for the buff or historian, this book covers the views of the military services, test pilots, engineers, scientists, and a transcript of proceedings. Discusses the qualities of aircraft such as the P-39, P-47, P-38, P-51, etc . in relation to their adversaries. Serving to promote cross-talk between all aspects of aircraft fighter production and use. 6"x 9", 432 pgs., 100 photos and charts, hdbd.
# 0003781

The Memoirs of a Checkertail Ace


The biography of Herschel "Herky" Green and the 325th Fighter Group in Europe. The story takes the reader through Green’s experiences with P-40s in Casablanca in 1943 , his first combat missions, bomber escorting, and eighteen aerial victories with the 15th Air Force. Absorbing reading. 278 photos, appendices, 192 pgs., 8½"x 11", hdbd.

The Allies' air forces eventually numbered in the tens of thousands, with aircraft better than almost anything in the Axis arsenals. By 1944, air superiority became the necessary condition for victory in Europe and, by 1945, the decisive element in the Pacific. The author provides some surprising conclusions, among them that the Germans almost won the Battle of Britain. Photos not seen by PW.

Boyne resurrects the war of the skies in all its heroic and tragic drama, while supplying insightful, expert conclusions about previously overlooked aspects of the war, including the essential role of American bombers in Europe Germany's miscalculation of the number of planes required for victory the Allies' slow start in deploying maximum air power-and why they eventually triumphed. of photos.

P-47 Aces of the 8th Air Force

Aircraft of the Aces Vol. 24

Recounts the record of Leroy Gover, a highly decorated pilot in the British and U.S. air forces during World War II, who flew scores of hair-raising missions, and describes Gover's life in and view of wartime England.

About the Author
Brig. Gen. Philip D. Caine, USAF (Ret.), has more than 4,500 hours of flight time, taught military history at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and is the author of American Pilots in the RAF (Brassey’s, Inc., 1993) and Aircraft Down! Evading Capture in WWII Europe (Brassey’s, Inc., 1997). He lives in Monument, Colorado.

P-47 Aces of the 9th & 15th AF

Aircraft of the Aces Vol. 30

Takes a pictorial tour around surviving examples of the P-38 Lightning and P-47 Thunderbolt, the fighter workhorses of the USAF in all theatres of the Second World War, and includes spectacular air-to-air shots of restored models, as well as archive material such as wartime recruiting posters and adverts, and views of aircraft restoration in progress.

Not as glamorous as the P-51 Mustang, the P-47 nonetheless earned a reputation for accomplishment and durability. In the hands of skilled pilots, the Thunderbolt was a remarkable fighter. This coverage includes technical drawings, 100+ photos, 3-views and tech manual excerpts. 100 pgs., 8½"x 11", sfbd
Book Description
A huge World War II fighter and the acknowledged champion as a late war ground attack aircraft, the T-Bolt embodied many interesting technical innovations that are detailed in this new volume. Includes technical looks at razor back models, high speed versions, ground attack armaments, troubles with aerodynamic compressibility, and more.

Exploded views, cutaway and phantom drawings from tech manuals, cockpit photos, disassembled aircraft, rare variants and experimental models. Included are technical looks at razor back models, high speed versions, ground attack armaments, troubles with aerodynamic compressibility and more. WarbirdTech Volume 23.

Airfields of the Eighth

Then and Now
Roger Freeman.

Airfields of the Ninth

Then and Now

Mustang and Thunderbolt Aces of the Pacific and CBI

by John Stanaway
Aircraft of the Aces Vol. 26
Stanaway. Although far better known for their exploits in the European Theater of Operations, the P-51 Mustang and P-47 Thunderbolt also made significant contributions to the victory against Japan. Read about the aces and the missions – including the 8-hour marathons escorting B-29s to Tokyo! 97 pgs. including 13 pgs. of color profiles and portraits., 100+ photos, 7?"x 9?". sfbd.

Gr. 6^-9. Harris recounts the story of African American aviators who fought against prejudice in the U.S. in order to become fighter pilots during World War II. She discusses early black fliers and their difficulties recruiting others, which eventually led to the formation of the all-black Ninety-ninth Fighter Squadron. The group trained near Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and eventually flew many successful missions in and around the Mediterranean. Harris emphasizes how racial intolerances prevalent at the time (as well as governmental insistence on separate facilities for blacks and whites) sometimes hindered the team's operation. She also describes the successful postwar efforts to fully integrate the military and includes excerpts from several first-person accounts of the squadron's activities. Illustrated with numerous black-and-white photographs and appended with a bibliography of sources, this will make an excellent introduction to a frequently neglected chapter in American history. Kay Weisman

The McKissacks (Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters) add to their distinguished explorations of African American history with a well-researched, informative look at the only all-black flying unit to serve in WWII. Established in 1941, the pilot-training program at Tuskegee, Ala., had been designed as an "experiment," without full military support to ensure its success and with many officers predicting utter failure. Despite segregated facilities at the base, hostile reactions from the locals and other demoralizing conditions, the aviators trained at Tuskegee went on to fly hundreds of missions over North Africa and Europe.

America's Hundred Thousand

U.S. Production Fighters of WWII

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
The Operational Record

The Republic P-47 in the Pacific Theater

P-47 Thunderbolt
In Detail & Scale Vol. 54

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
Aero Detail Vol. 14

To Rule the Sky
Jaques & Lett.

Close Calls
Two Tours with the 353rd Fighter Group
Bill .

Robert S. Johnson.

P-47 Thunderbolt in Action

On Wings to War

Thunderbolt - Out of the Blue
Memoirs of a WWII Fighter Pilot.
Steele & Steele.

P-47 Thunderbolt
Classic WWII Aviation, Vol. 4
Edward Shacklady.

Check Six! A Thunderbolt Pilot’s War Across the Pacific

There were no mission limits for a pilot in the Pacific, unlike in Europe, during World War II you flew until it was time to go home. So it was for fighter pilot James “Jug” Curran, all the way, from New Guinea to the Philippines, across the Pacific. Along with the men of the 348th Fighter Group, he overcame initial doubts on the utility of the mighty P-47 Thunderbolt in the Pacific theatre. “Check Six! A Thunderbolt Pilot’s War Across the Pacific,” is an aviation chronicle that brings you into flight, then into the fight, over the Pacific and back.

Watch the video: DCS WORLD. P-47 Startup, Taxi and Takeoff