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P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter Aircraft

History of the P-47 Thunderbolt

P-47D Thunderbolt fighter plane
P-47D Thunderbolt fighter plane

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was the largest, heaviest, and most expensive fighter aircraft in history to be powered by a single piston engine.

The P-47, based on the powerful Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine, was to be very effective as a short-to-medium range escort fighter plane in high-altitude air-to-air combat and, when unleashed as a fighter-bomber, proved especially adept at ground attack in both the World War II European and Pacific Theaters.

Originally conceived as a lightweight interceptor, the P-47 was developed as a heavyweight fighter plane and made its first flight in May of 1941. The first production model was delivered to the AAF in March of 1942. The armored cockpit was roomy inside, comfortable for the pilot, and offered good visibility.

Used as both a high-altitude escort fighter and a low-level fighter-bomber, the P-47 quickly gained a reputation for ruggedness. Its sturdy construction and air-cooled radial engine enabled the Thunderbolt to absorb severe battle damage and keep flying. During WWII, the P-47 served in almost every active war theater and in the forces of several Allied nations.

A modern-day U.S. ground-attack aircraft, the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, takes its name from the P-47.

Before production ceased, 15,660 Thundebolts were manufactured.


Specifications (P-47D)

P-47 Thunderbolt TOPPS Card #18
P-47 Thunderbolt TOPPS Card #18
(from the TOPPS Wings Friend or Foe collection)

Armament: Six or eight .50 cal. machine guns and either 10 rockets or 2,500 lbs. of bombs
Engine: One Pratt & Whitney R-2800-59 of 2,430 hp
Maximum speed: 433 mph
Cruising speed: 350 mph
Range: 1,030 mi.
Service ceiling: 42,000 ft.
Span: 40 ft. 9 in.
Length: 36 ft. 2 in.
Height: 14 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 17,500 lbs. maximum
Crew: One

Photos of Surviving P-47 Thunderbolts

P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane at Tillamook Air Museum in Oregon
P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane
Republic P-47D Thunderbolt "Big Stud" in Seattle
Republic P-47D Thunderbolt "Big Stud"
Nose art on Republic P-47D Thunderbolt "Big Stud"
Nose art on Republic P-47D Thunderbolt "Big Stud"
Nose art on P-47 Thunderbolt "Expected Goose"
Nose art on P-47 Thunderbolt "Expected Goose"
Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, S/N 44-32798, at Ogden, Utah
Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, S/N 44-32798

P-47 Photographs by Our Friends and Supporters

P-47 Thunderbolt "Nellie", 549192, Registration G-THUN in Melun, France in 2018 (Photo by DELEHELLE Eric)
P-47 Thunderbolt "Nellie", 549192, Registration G-THUN in Melun, France

P-47N Thunderbolt "Wild Hair" at the Peterson Air & Space Museum in Colorado Springs, CO (Photo by Michael Hoschouer)
P-47N Thunderbolt "Wild Hair"