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P-47D Thunderbolt P-47D "Tuskegee" No.34, 100th FS, 332nd FG, Italy 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
The 332nd Fighter Group was established in February 1942 at Tuskegee Army Airfield, Alabama. They had to overcome racial prejudice and delay after delay before they were finally allowed to enter WWII as fighter pilots. At the end of 1943 the 100th FS was sent to Italy and assigned to the 15th AF. On April 25, 1944 they received their first six P-47s handed down from the 325th FG so the tails were painted red to cover the old markings. The Red Tails, “Tuskegee Airmen” altered history in several ways.
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