Classic Military Aircraft
P47 Thunderbolt, the largest and heaviest fighter aircraft to have served with the USAAF in WW2. It was built by Republic from 1941-1945 and was powered by the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine, which drove a four blade propeller of 12 feet 2 inches in diameter.
With a wingspan of 42 feet 7 inches and a maximum take off weight of just over 9 tons it was a big aircraft. The P47 Thunderbolt had a top speed of 467 mph and could climb to 43,000 feet. It was armed with eight .50-caliber machine guns, plus ten 5 inch rockets or a bomb load of 2000 lb’s. With a weight of just over 9 tons it was a big aircraft. The first operational aircraft was the P47B going through to last model which was the P47N, a total of 15,677 Thunderbolts were produced during the war. The P47 started escorting the 8th Air Force over Europe in early 1943 as a bomber escort fighter, The P47B did lack performance at low altitudes, modifications were introduced in the form of the P47C, this aircraft address the problems of manoeuvrability and when equipped with a 200 gallon drop tank it could stay with the B17’s well into Germany.
The armored cockpit was roomy and comfortable for the pilot, and also offered good visibility. It was a very rugged aircraft and could take a lot of damage from enemy flak and fire from the German fighters. During in and up until the end of the war the P47 Thunderbolt was used as a ground attack aircraft, from the Normandy landings to deep into Germany. Along with the British Typhoon it was to have a devastating effect on German tanks and armour as well as trains and any other form of transport. With total air superiority allied aircraft such as the Thunderbolt could roam free and attack any target.
There has been some controversy since the war about American pilots attacking anything that moved, including farmers going about their daily duties and attacks on villages and farms.