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May 16, 2006
I just read Robert Johnson's book Thunderbolt!

A really good read. Great discriptions of combat. It's amazing how they were able to mix it up with smaller Me-109's and Fw-190's in their larger Thunderbolts.

During one sortie, Johnson's aircraft took an amazing beating and still brought him back.

Did P-47's ever use napalm in the ETO?
Actually it was used for the very first in WW2 against the Germans. On 17 July 1944 it was dropped by US bombers fuel depot at Coutances, near St. Lô, France.

I also used to think it was only used in the PTO until about a year ago. I learned other wise here on this forum.
Squeelig- look for books by Hub Zemke- "Zemke's Wolfpack" and Gabby Gabreski- "A Fighter Pilot's Life" to round off your P-47 combat info. Those and Thunderbolt paint a vivid picture of life with the 56th and several combats are described for each man's point ov view for an interesting picture of things.

As you have learned the Jug was an awesome machine that made no excuses and excelled in areas of performance no matter what the opponent was flying.
Agreed Twitch, the Jug is a hell of an airplane!


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I wonder what luftwaffe pilots thought when they first saw it... "Heiliger Mist, diese Sache ist sehr groß!"

(love the free translator)
What I thought was interesting from Robert Johnson's book is that he would have a climbing contest with a Spitfire. The early jugs couldn't beat them, but once they got their new paddle blade props (compared to the toothpick ones), he was able to outclimb a Spitfire. Didn't think it was possible.

Also, if I was in charge of the Air Force in post WWII, I would have kept the P-47N in service and retired the P-51. When it comes to ground support, most pilots would rather be in the Jug since it didn't have engine coolant.
I think they would have been more succesfull in Korea for that role.
Marshall, the USAAF data I have seen puts the climb rate of the P-47D with paddle blade and water injection at 3,200fpm. (Not bad for a 14,500lb aircraft and slightly better than an F4U-1) At about 12,000 feet, the climb is down to 3,000fpm. At 20,000 feet, she's down to 2,700 fpm.

No, that won't beat a spitfire. Not by a long shot. Perhaps he executed a zoom climb.

At any rate, the P-47's improved climb rate allowed it to stay on an axis fighter just long enough to bring its guns to bear. The paddle blade gave it a 400fpm boost which is not insignificant.

Think 6,000 rounds per minute coverging at 300 yards into a three or four foot circle. It doesn't take more than a fraction of a second to inflict serious damage on your opponent.
A zoom is rapid inertia climb after a dive and assuredly Bob did not perform this maneuver. ANY plane would beat another starting from level flight. The contest was a straight hand signal "let's go upstairs" though I don't know from exactly what altitude it commenced.

This was probably a case of "initial climb rate" winning though Zemke told me the paddle blade could take them to 30,000 feet in 13 minutes instead of the 20 with the original prop.

The firepower consideration is paramount however. Those 8 guns each spit out about 13 rounds a second from a 750 RPM rate of fire for the M-2. That's 104 total rounds out there headed down range. If that doesn't sound like much consider a 2-3 second burst with 312 API fifties converging somewhere. Imagine that's double the rate of the P-51B/C.

Air combat has evolved with the Thunderbolt theorum in mind- firepower gets lots of rounds down range at a target with a short burst. Weapon technology gave us fewer guns (now just one gun) firing at higher RPM.

Pretty cool the way it's all culminated to one gun with a super high rate of fire.
One for the UK members, I often look in the 'The Works' budget book shops which are on virtually every high street as they sometimes have great bargains, they recently had quite a good range of Osprey's 'Aircraft of the Aces' series at £1.99 each, although they have all gone now.

Anyway I popped into the Lincoln branch yesterday and picked up this 'P-47 Thunderbolt at war' for just £2.99 !!! It's quite a good book giving a thorough written history of development, manufacture and service history including after the war, and contains loads of photos many in colour, and a good selection of isometric diagrams of various parts and other illustrations.

For any passing 'Jug' fan, it's well worth looking out for if you don't already have it. I got mine at the Lincoln store, but often the whole chain of stores sell the same titles as each other, so might be worth looking in your own local branch.


Another great book is Hell Hawks! by Robert F. Dorr, about the Thunderbolts in the 9th AF. I met Mr. Dorr a couple of years ago at a book signing for that book at the the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center .

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