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P-47D Thunderbolt "Razorback" 42-22668, Col. Neel Kearby "Fiery Ginger IV", 348th FG., New Guinea, March 1944
General Background
The Republic Aviation P-47 "Thunderbolt" entered service in May 1942 with the introduction of the P-47B. It had a "Razorback", a high dorsal spine behind the side-ways opening canopy that reduced visibility. As improvements were made a "D" variant was produced with 12,602 being manufactured. The British developed a sliding bubble canopy for their Typhoon and this was adopted by the USAAF starting with the P-47D-5. With its ability to survive enemy fire along with impressive armament and bomb load the P-47 excelled at ground attack roles.
The Aircraft
By March 5, 1944 Col. Neel Kearby had scored 21 victories and was trying to beat Eddie Rickenbacker’s 26 total. On this day Kearby and two other pilots attacked a Japanese formation with Kearby downing the lead aircraft while his wingmen took out the Japanese wing men. Before Kearby knew it he had a Japanese aircraft on his tail and was unable to shake it. Flying P-47 42-22668 “Fiery Ginger IV” Kearby didn’t return to base. Col. Kearby was one of two P-47 pilots to receive the Medal of Honor.
Specifications :
Total Number Produced: 12,602 most numerous variant
Crew: 1
Length: 36 ft. 1 in. (11 m)
Wingspan: 40 ft. 9 in. (12.42 m)
Height: 14 ft. 8 in. (4.47 m)
Engine: 1 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-59 twin-row radial, 2,535 hp (1,890 kW)
Maximum Speed: 433 mph @ 30,000 ft (697 km/h @ 9,145 m)
Service Ceiling: 43,000 ft. (13,100 m)
Rate Of Climb: 3,120 ft/min (15.9 m/s)
Range: 800 mi. combat, 1,800 mi. ferry (1,290 km combat / 2,900 km ferry)
Armament: 8 x .50 in. (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns w/ 3,400 rounds
Maximum 2,500 lbs (1,134 kg) of bombs
10 x 5 in. (127 mm) unguided rockets