Kit of the Week: P-47 Thunderbolt
The Thunderbolt was an airborne tank-hunter, harrying the Germans at every turn.
The P-47 was the largest single-seat, single-engine fighter used in World War II. It was developed by Republic Aviation and was the first aircraft equipped with the powerful Pratt and Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engine (later used in the Navy’s F6F Hellcat and F4U Corsair fighters). The Thunderbolt featured thick armor protection for the pilot and was heavily armed with eight .50 caliber Browning M2 machine guns and up to 2500 pounds of rockets or bombs. With the addition of external drop tanks, the P-47 was able to provide fighter escort to bomber formations deep into enemy occupied Europe. While the P-47 was a competent air-to-air fighter, it’s massive firepower and speed made it an ideal ground attack aircraft. It’s prowess for hunting tanks made it the scourge of German panzer forces in Europe, forcing them to stay hidden during daylight hours. Ground attack versions of the P-47 were delivered to the European Theater of Operations in time for the D-Day Invasions, for which all Allied aircraft were painted with characteristic black and white “invasion stripes.” More than 15,000 were built during World War II, making it a close rival of the P-51 Mustang for most widely used American fighter aircraft of the war.
P-47 Thunderbolt Vital Statistics
- Length:36 ft 1 in (11.00 m)
- Wingspan:40 ft 9 in (12.42 m)
- Height: 14 ft 8 in (4.47 m)
- Weight: Empty: 10,000 lb (4,535 kg) Loaded: 12,731 lb (5,774.48 kg)
- Armament: 8x Browning .50 cal M2 Machine guns,
- up to 10x 5” (127mm) rockets, up to 2500 pounds of bombs
- Speed: 443 mph at 29,000 ft (713 km/h at 8,839 m)
- Range 800 mi combat, 1,800 mi ferry (1,290 km / 2,900 km)
- Service ceiling:43,000 ft (13,100 m)
- Years Produced:1941-45