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Republic P-47 D

Illustration: Republic P47D by ARII Plastic Model 1/48 scale #16

The Thunderbolt was one of a trio of superb American fighters to see extensive service in World War II. The massive fuselage of this heavyweight fighter was dictated by the use of a large turbocharger, which was located in the rear fuselage for balance reasons and therefore had to be connected to the engine by extensive lengths of wide-diameter ducting. The type was clearly related to Republic's early portly-fuselage fighters, the P-35 and P-43 Lancer, but was marked by very high performance, high firepower, and great structural strength.

The XP-47B prototype flew in May 1941 with the 1380 kW (1,850 hp) XR-2800 radial, later revised to develop 1491 kW (2,000 hp). This formed the basis of the 171 P-47B production aircraft with the R-2800-21 radial, and the 602 P-47Cs with a longer forward fueslage for the same engine or, in later examples, the 1715 kW (2,300 hp) R-2800-59 radial; the type also featured provision for a drop tank or bombs. The P-47D was the main production model, 12,602 being built with the 1715 kW (2,300 hp) R-2800-21W or 1890 kW (2,535 hp) R-2800-59W water-injected radials, as well as a greater load of external stores that could include 1134 kW (2,500 lb) of bombs or ten 127 mm (5 in) rockets in the fighter-bomber role that became an increasingly important part of the Thunderbolt's repertoire. Early aircraft had the original 'razorback' canopy/rear fuselage, but later machines introduced a 360° vision bubble canopy and a cutdown rear fuselage. P-47G was the designation given to 354 Wright-built P-47Ds. The only other production models were the 130 P-47M 'sprinters' with the 2088 kW (2,800 hp) R-2800-57(C) radial and the 1,816 P-47N long-range aircraft with a strengthened and longer wing plus the 2088 kW (2,800 hp) R-2800-77 radial. The Thunderbolt was never an effective close-in fighter, but excelled in the high-speed dive-and-zoom attacks useful in long-range escort.

Republic P-47C Thunderbolt
Role: Fighter
Crew/Accommodation: One
Power Plant: One 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-21 Double Wasp air-cooled radial
Dimensions: Span 12.42 m (40.75 ft); length 10.99 m (36.08 ft); wing area 27.87 m2 (300 sq ft)
Weights: Empty 4,491 kg (9,900 lb); MTOW 6,770 kg (14,925 lb)
Performance: Maximum speed 697 km/h (433 mph) at 9,144 m (30,000 ft); operational ceiling 12,802 m (42,000 ft); range 722 km (480 miles) with a 227 kg (500lb) bomb
Load: Eight .5 inch machine guns, plus up to 227 kg (500 lb) of bombs
Source: "The World's Greatest Aircraft" by Christopher Chant (without permission) Crescent Books, 1991 Random House

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