Republic P-47D Thunderbolt
The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt holds many distinctions not the least of which are,
the most produced
of any American fighter aircraft (15,683 planes built), the largest, heaviest, and the most expensive
($85,000.00 per unit) fighter aircraft in history to be powered by a single piston engine. Although the
P-51 Mustang replaced the P-47, in the long-range escort role in Europe, the Thunderbolt shot down
more German fighters than did the P-51, ending the war with 3,752 air-to-air kills. Equipped with Eight
(8) 50 caliber machine guns (4 in each wing) the P-47 was unrivaled in fire power and in the air to
ground attack role. In Europe, the Thunderbolt flew more sorties (423,435) than P-51s, P-38s and
P-40s combined. It was indeed, the P-47 which broke the back of the Luftwaffe in the critical period of
January–May 1944. Many fighter pilots, (including America's leading ace in the European Theater,
Lt Col Francis S. "Gabby" Gabreski) attribute their survival to the "Jug's" reputation as a reliable and
extremely tough airplane able to take incredible amounts of damage and still return its pilot home safely.
The Thunderbolt got it's 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”
(which it surely was). Only 9 Republic P-47 Thunderbolt remaining in airworthy condition today.
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