Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
The P-47 was produced in greater numbers than any other American fighter aircraft. Between 1941 and 1945 a total of 15,683 of this massive fighter were produced. It was also the largest and heaviest single piston engined fighter aircraft ever produced. The prototype XP-47B first flew on 6 May 1941. That test flight revealed some minor problems, but also demonstrated that the basic design was sound. The Thunderbolt still had a great deal of prejudice to overcome. It was a very different aircraft to any fighter then in service. It was twice as heavy as the Supermarine Spitfire, and would require a very different style of combat. The Thunderbolt soon gained the nickname “Jug”, from its resemblance to a moon-shiner’s whiskey jug. On its arrival in Britain this nickname was apparently misunderstood as being short for “Juggernaut”. The Thunderbolt was a very robust aircraft, suffering an incredibly low loss rate of only 0.7% during its combat career. Its eight .50in machine guns made it the most heavily armed American fighter of the war. Its very high diving speed allowed the careful Thunderbolt pilot to choose when he entered combat, and just as importantly allowed him to break away at will. By the end of the war the P-47 had become an excellent ground attack aircraft. It could carry up to 2,500lbs of bombs or rockets, not as heavy a load as some of the very best fighter bombers of the war, but still impressive. Its solid construction and radial engine made it much more survivable than many other ground attack aircraft. In the European theatre the Thunderbolt was estimated to have destroyed 6,000 tanks and armoured vehicles and 9,000 railway locomotives, playing a crucial role in the allied advance across Europe after D-Day. Despite its ungainly appearance, the Thunderbolt had proved itself to be one of the best fighter aircraft produced during the Second World War. Info: History of War http://www.historyofwar.org/subject_air.html#aircraft Profiles: Aircraft Of World War 2 Published by Octopus Books Ltd. American Aircraft Of World War II Published by Chancellor Press Ltd. Fighters of the United States Air Force Published by Temple Press/Aerospace.