Top quality wood construction with fiberglass fuselage
Comes with all hardware and accessories.
Wing span 66.5 in /
Wing area 806 sq in /
52 sq dm
Flying weight 9.69 lb
Fuselage length 56 in
/ 1420 mm
Engine Required 2c
0.91cu in 4c 1.20 cu in
Radio Required 5
In the entire history of
military aviation, there has never been an airplane that could match the P-47
Thunderbolt for ruggedness and dependability. The pilots who flew it into combat
called it "The Unbreakable" and "The plane that can do anything." They were not
far from wrong.
P-47's often came back from combat shot full of holes, their wings and control
surfaces in tatters. On one occasion a Thunderbolt pilot, Lieutenant Chetwood,
hit a steel pole after strafing a train over Occupied France. The collision
sliced four feet off one of his wings--yet he was able to fly back safely to his
base in England.
The story of the P-47 began in the summer of 1940. At that time Republic was
building the P-43 Lancer and had plans to produce a lightweight fighter,
designated the P-44 Rocket. In view of combat experience in Europe,
however, the Air Corps decided that if the United States became involved in the
war something larger and better than the P-44 would be required.
The story of the P-47 began in
the summer of 1940. At that time Republic was building the P-43 Lancer and had
plans to produce a lightweight fighter, designated the P-44 Rocket. In view of
combat experience in Europe, however, the Air Corps decided that if the United
States became involved in the war something larger and better than the P-44
would be required.
Alexander Kartveli, Republic's chief engineer, quickly prepared a rough sketch
of a new fighter. It was a daring concept. He planned to use the new Pratt &
Whitney Double Wasp , 2,000 h.p. XR-2800-21 eighteen-cylinder two-row radial
engine. It which was largest and most powerful aircraft engine ever developed in
the United States. He also envisioned that his plane would have eight
.50-caliber machine guns and enough armor plating to protect the pilot from
every direction. These features added up to an airplane weighing about 4,000
pounds more than any existing single-engined fighter.
Without such power of the new 2,000 h.p. Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp , Kartveli
could see no way of meeting the performance and load carrying demands being made
by the U.S.A.A.F. From an engineering standpoint, the requirements presented
some enormous problems, but far more problems were presented by the engine. The
first of these was the need for an efficient super-charging duct system that
would offer the least interrupted airflow. Kartveli therefore adopted the
unorthodox method of designing this feature first and then building up the
fuselage around it; the large turbo-supercharger was stowed internally in the
rear fuselage, with the large intake for the air duct mounted under the engine,
together with the oil coolers. Exhaust gases were piped back separately to the
turbine and expelled through a waste gate in the bottom of the fuselage, and
ducted air was fed to the centrifugal impeller and returned, via an intercooler,
to the engine under pressure. Surprisingly, all this ducting of gases under
temperature and pressure did not prove very vulnerable in combat, for the
fighter was to become renowned for its ability to absorb battle damage and
The new design was approved,
and Republic began work on the first test model. The XP-47B was ready in just
eight months and was taken up for its first test flight on May 6, 1941. It
proved to be an outstanding success, and was able to do everything Kartveli had
hoped, plus more. Its speed of 412 miles per hour was even higher than expected.
The conventional three-bladed propeller could not efficiently utilize the power
of the new engine and a four-bladed propeller was adopted. Although this
propeller was an admirable solution to the power gearing of the engine, there
remained the problem of providing sufficient ground clearance for its 12-foot
diameter. If a conventional undercarriage were to be employed its suspension
would have been too far outboard to permit the wing installation of the guns and
ammunition requested by the U.S.A.A.F., and therefore Republic had to design a
telescopic landing gear which was nine inches shorter when retracted than when
extended. Numerous other problems were to be faced in absorbing the loads and
stresses which would be imposed when a battery of eight 0.5-in. guns (a
phenomenal heavy armament for that time) was fired simultaneously, and in
providing the necessary tankage for the quantities of fuel stipulated to make
the machine the first true single-engined strategic fighter. Thus, it was only
to be expected that when the first prototype, the XP-47B Thunderbolt, made its
first flight, on May 6, 1941, it dwarfed not only its pilots but all previous
fighters and, with a loaded weight of 12,086 lb., turned the scales at more than
twice the weight of most of its contemporaries.
The prototype Thunderbolt first took to the air on May 6,1941. Production began
with the P-47B, which entered United States Army Air Force service in November
1942, first becoming operational with the Eighth Air Force stationed in the UK
on April 8,1943. The P-47B's range was not really good enough for escort duties,
and its maneuverability was poor, but at least it offered a measure of real
protection to the Allied bombers which had previously suffered very heavy
To increase the tempo of flight development of the XP-47B such leading test
pilots as Colonel Ira C. Eaker were employed, and at one time it was hoped that
the design could benefit from combat testing with the R.A.F. in the Middle East.
Production difficulties caused General "Hap" Arnold to notify the British Air
Ministry, in September 1941, that it was considered inadvisable to do this until
various teething troubles were eradicated, and an optimistic estimate of May
1942 was established as a target date for the Thunderbolt to be combat ready.
This was eventually to prove almost a year out. Numerous problems soon presented
themselves as the XP-47B test program advanced. At altitudes above 30,000 feet
ailerons "snatched and froze", the cockpit canopy could not be opened and
control loads became excessive.
773 production versions were ordered. But this was only the beginning. Before
the war was over, a total of 15,579 Thunderbolts was built, about two-thirds of
which reached operational squadrons overseas.
When, in January 1943, the
U.S.A.A.F.'s 56th Fighter Group arrived in the United Kingdom with its massive
Republic P-47 Thunderbolts, R.A.F. Spitfire fighter pilots banteringly suggested
that their American colleagues would be able to take evasive action when
attacked by undoing their harnesses and dodging about the fuselages of their
huge mounts. The Thunderbolt was certainly big. In fact it was the largest and
heaviest single engined single-seat fighter ever built! But sheer size was not
to prove detrimental to the Thunderbolt's subsequent operational career.
The first tasks of the Thunderbolt, which began on April 8, 1943, were
high-altitude escort duties and fighter sweeps in which the new aircraft
acquitted itself well, despite the inexperience of its pilots. It was soon
discovered that the heavy Thunderbolt could out dive any Luftwaffe, or, for that
matter, Allied, fighter, providing a decisive method of breaking off combat when
necessary, but at low and medium altitudes it could not match the rate of climb
or maneuverability of German fighters. One shortcoming, which was even more
marked in other Allied fighters, was that of insufficient range to permit deep
penetration into Germany, but means were already being sought to add to the
P-47B's 307 U.S. gallons of internal fuel. At the time of the Thunderbolt's
European debut radial-engined single-seat fighters were a rarity, the only other
such fighter operational in Europe being the Fw 190A. To prevent confusion
between the two fighters of the opposing sides the engine cowlings of the
Thunderbolts were painted white, and white bands were painted around the
vertical and horizontal tail surfaces--an appropriate comment on recognition
standards appertaining at that time, as it would seem impossible to mistake the
sleek and beautifully-contoured German fighter for the portly Thunderbolt.
By mid-1943 improved P-47Cs were becoming available, with external fuel tanks to
increase range and a longer fuselage to improve maneuverability. Next came the
major production version, the P-47D, and then P-47Gs, and P-47Ms with more
powerful engines, giving a maximum speed of 756 km/h (470 mph). They were used
for anti V1 Flying Bomb duties.
The final version, the P-47N, was built primarily for use against the Japanese.
The fastest model was the XP-47J, which did not go into production. On August 4,
1944, this plane reached a speed of 504 miles per hour. Production plans were
shelved in favor of another P-47 development, the Republic XP-72.
P-47's flew more than 546,000 combat sorties between March 1943 and August 1945,
destroying 11,874 enemy aircraft, some 9,000 locomotives, and about 6,000
armored vehicles and tanks. Only 0.7 per cent of the fighters of this type
dispatched against the enemy were to be lost in combat.