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Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 24 : P-47 Thunderbolt Aces of the Eighth Air Force
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Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 24 : P-47 Thunderbolt Aces of the Eighth Air Force

The US aviation industry produced three great fighter designs to equip its burgeoning army air force during World War 2, and of this trio, Republic's P-47 Thunderbolt was easily the heaviest. Powered, crucially, by a turbocharged Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engine that produced 2000 hp, the first production fighters reached the 56th FG in June 1942, and six months later the group joined the Eight Air Force in Britain to undertake the much needed escort role for the latter's growing B-17 bomber force. Initial encounters with German fighters were not particularly encouraging for the Thunderbolt pilots, as their mount was easily outmanoeuvred at low to medium altitudes, and its engine performance was rather lacklustre - the Jug's short range was also criticised. However, the arrival of the first P-47Cs in mid-1943 addressed the problem of the aircraft's short combat radius, as this model could be fitted with an external tank. Slowly, as combat tactics evolved in units like the 56th and 78th FGs, pilots learnt how best to fly the Thunderbolt in order to effectively counter the more nimble Luftwaffe fighters, and USAAF aces of the calibre of 'Hub' Zemke and 'Gabby' Gabreski began accruing substantial scores. Built to absorb much damage, and rock steady as a gun platform, the Thunderbolt was soon able to more than hold its own over German skies. The arrival of the definitive P-47D in late 1943 was followed shortly after by the advent of the 'bubble top' Thunderbolt, which then became the favoured mount over the 'razorback' Jug thanks to its superior rearward visibility. Text by Jerry Cutts with illustrations by Chris Davey.

    Contents
  • Early Days
  • Extended Range
  • Bloody Battles
  • Maximum Effort
  • Build Up to D-Day and Beyond
  • Arnhem and into Germany
  • Final Clashes
  • Appendices

 

Osprey Aircraft of the Aces


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