The P-47 was an outstanding escort and ground attack aircraft and was the heaviest and largest single seat fighter built during WWII. It rose out of a humble beginning which saw its ancestors the P-35 and P-43 fall short of expectations.
Alexander Kartveli continued the lineage with the cream of the crop, the P-47. In 1939 Republic created two prototypes, one with an Allison liquid cooled engine, which turned out quite inadequate, underpowered and woefully short in high altitude performance.
The second built around the new 2000-h-p 18-cylinder Pratt and Whitney Double Wasp radial which was also used by the P-61 Black Widow, F4U Corsair and the F6F Hellcat. The P-47 had an exhaust-gas-powered feeding system where air entered the cowling intake carrying it to the supercharger behind the cockpit, via an air duct passing through the belly of the plane. The turbine used the engine exhaust gasses to run, which caused the compressed air to high temperatures, then passing into the intercooler before entering the engine carburetor via air ducts on either side of the cockpit. This allowed the P-47 to maintain its great performance at high altitudes escorting the B-17 and B-24.
The uniqueness of the engine and supercharger feed system proved exceptional in the test flights as the P-47 reached speeds over 410 m.p.h., with a climb to 15,000 feet in 5 minutes. And mind you, the take-off weight of the test aircraft was nearly 5 ½ tons.
The first unit to take them to war was the 8th A.F. 56th Fighter group. The last ETO unit, to get the fastest version, the 'M', was also the 56th Fighter group.
On D-Day Hitler ordered the bombardment of London with the new secret terror weapon, the V1. On the night of June 12th, it began, with only seven operational sites, but there was a stockpile of over 12,000 V1's in northern France. More sites came on-line and a sustained attack of about 100 a day started on the 15th. The only aircraft with the low-altitude speed to be effective against it was the Hawker Tempest. Fewer than 30 Tempests were available. They were assigned to No. 150 Wing RAF. The Brits needed fast fighters from U.S. to help shoot down the V1's, which only had a speed of just over 400 mph. Early attempts to intercept and destroy V-1s often failed, but improved techniques soon emerged. These included using the airflow over an interceptor's wing to raise one wing of the V-1, by sliding the wingtip to within 6 in (15 cm) of the lower surface of the V-1's wing. If properly executed, this maneuver would tip the V-1's wing up, over-riding the gyro and sending the V-1 into an out-of-control dive. At least sixteen V-1s were destroyed this way (the first by a P-51 piloted by Major R. E. Turner of 356th Fighter Squadron on 18 June).
Republic engineers had an answer, the P-47M. Max performance using R-2800-14W or R-2800-57 fitted with new CH-5 turbosupercharger coupled to the C642S-B40 prop, 13' diameter and reduction in fuel tanks, gave it top speed: 473 mph at 32,000 ft.
The "M" was the final version used in the ETO; The 56th, flying with the 8th AF and the only P-47 unit left within the 8th, took delivery in February 1945.
Major teething problems forced the "'M's out of service till April:
a. Immediately on arrival, they were fitted with dorsal fin fillet to cure stability problems. Only the D-40 came with factory dorsal fin, all other P-47's were fitted with field kits.
b. Low cylinder head temperatures resulted in internal baffling of the cowl flaps to raise the cylinder head temps.
c. Short range - fuel tank reduction
d. Breakdown of ignition systems at high altitude.
e. Problems with the R-2800-57 engine, led to replacement of all ignition wiring.
f. Reworked power controls.
g. Lastly extensive engine corrosion was found, caused by the salt water, when lack of sufficient sealing of the engines occurred for the ocean crossing. Thus, all the engines in the delivered aircraft had to be pulled and replaced by factory fresh engines.
Unknown to me and found in my research, the first P-47N's were actually shipped to England for the 56th FG, likely due to the 'M' issues. The war ended, the N's were disassembled, shipped to the U.S. and then to the Pacific units, the first being the 318th on Saipan.
Some pilots of the 56th trained with the Gloster Meteor unit to learn how to deal with the V1's. The Meteor and Tempest along with the 'M' were the only fighters that could hit 465 mph at altitude. A few missions with the 'M', were flown with the Meteors, but with no results.
In April 1945, the 56th scored against the ME-262, the speed of the 'M' kept up and passed the unbelieving German pilots. The April 13th mission by the 56th occurred as they were free of escorting and were ordered to give freelance support of the target area. The 62nd flew top cover at 15,000 ft, the 61st at 10.000 ft and the 63rd Blue section orbiting at 5,000 ft with 8 P-47s. As they approached the Eggebeck Airdrome, Red and White flights of the 63rd hit the field. Before the flack installations were knocked out, one casualty occurred when Lt. William Hoffman was hit, not having enough altitude his chute didn't open. The pass was made in line abreast between 400 and 450 mph, an estimated 150 to 200 German aircraft were on the field.
On this mission Lt. Randall Murphy became known as the "King of the Strafers", he was the top single mission strafer of the 8th, when he destroyed 10 aircraft. This may have been attributed to the new T-34 ammunition which was a high incendiary type designed to ignite the low-grade fuel in the German jets. Only group, squadron and element leaders were issued the new ammo. In the course of strafing they found the ammo burned so hot that it started grass fires,
Murphy was a crack shot and whatever he hit went up in flames. Murphy was duly sent back to the U.S. to brief new pilots on combat strafing techniques, having thought it would be quite necessary for the invasion of Japan. Had it been, it would have been a boon for the strafers.
A few more missions through April, then the war ended quietly for the 56th on May 8th.
images below to see larger images
Hasegawa kit built up well as usual. The masking and painting were more difficult than I had experienced in the past. Aircraft was painted all silver first, without the cowling and engine, then masked and painted the light blue color. Drying for several days then masked and painted the darker blue pattern. Cowling was painted and added to the model. Note the kit comes with the separate Fin Filet, that should be painted separately and glued last to the model. Also, photo-etched dive-flaps come with kit and are located just aft of the wheel wells. All D-30's and after came with dive-flaps. The Tamiya "M" model has the dive-flaps molded into the wing.
The big problem was the silver lettering of the decals, they splintered to pieces even after use of a decal saver. So, scour the internet and only one other was found, ordered, it was overseas and took about 2 weeks to get. Finally, carefully add the decal saver, they went on ok, but, the silver had slightly smeared from the decal saver.
Lastly the wing tanks were added, yes this was one of the configurations used to give the 'M' the legs to travel as far as a "D" version without any drop tanks.
Note: After the block number, Evansville aircraft were identified by the -RE suffix, while Farmingdale aircraft were given the -RA suffix. All 'M' versions were built at Farmingdale
Aircraft: "Fire Ball", P-47M-1-RA (421229) - Unknown disposition
Unit: 62nd FS, 56th FG
Pilot: Lt. Phillip G. Kuhn; 1 air kill, 4 strafing kills.
Model: Hasegawa 1/48, SuperScale - 48-997, P47D/M Thunderbolts 62nd & 63rd FS / 56th