Moments of Triumph THUNDERBOLT ACES
Republic's P-47 was the mount of many high-scoring US fighter pilots during World War Two. As we approach the 80th anniversary of the type’s aerial debut, Malcolm V Lowe examines the careers of five particularly accomplished Thunderbolt exponents
Powerful, fast, wellarmed and generously proportioned, Republic’s P-47 Thunderbolt appropriately earned the nickname ‘Jug’, short for juggernaut. By far the largest single-engined land-based American fighter of World War Two, the type achieved considerable success with the US Army Air Forces worldwide, with a significant number of pilots amassing impressive ‘kill’ tallies in air-to-air combat.
Not surprising then that the type equipped many of the USAAF fighter groups during the war, principally over northern and southern Europe, the Mediterranean and the Pacific. The majority of these converted to the North American P-51 Mustang later in the conflict. During its time in combat the Thunderbolt proved to be a rugged, hardhitting warplane equally at home as a fighter at high and low levels, and as a ‘mud mover’ in airground operations.