Superb restoration of combat-veteran fighter completed by AirCorps Aviation
Republic P-47D-23RA Thunderbolt 42-27609 took to the air again at Bemidji Regional Airport, Minnesota, on 15 May after restoration by AirCorps Aviation. Bernie Vasquez was at the controls, with Warren Pietsch and Ben Redman flying the chase-plane. Upon completion of its test-flying programme, the combat-veteran fighter, which is owned by Bruce Eames, will be displayed at the Dakota Territory Air Museum in Minot, North Dakota.
The P-47 was recovered from Dobodura, New Guinea during 1998, 52 years after being written off and stripped for parts. The fuselage hulk spent a long time at Dobodura displayed vertically, with the firewall set in concrete. Recovered to Sydney, Australia in January 1999, it was purchased by the present owner in 2014. AirCorps Aviation spent some eight years actively restoring the Thunderbolt to airworthiness. The aeroplane will be painted as P-47D 42-27884 Bonnie, as flown by 348th Fighter Group pilot — and 16-kill ace — Maj William Dunham in New Guinea.