Republic P-47 Thunderbolt

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was one of the largest and heaviest fighter aircraft in history to be powered by a single piston engine. It was heavily armed with eight .50-caliber machine guns, four per wing. When fully loaded, the P-47 weighed up to eight tons, and in the fighter-bomber ground-attack roles could carry five-inch rockets or a significant bomb load of 2,500 pounds; it could carry more than half the payload of the B-17 bomber on long-range missions (although the B-17 had a far greater range). The P-47, based on the powerful Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine — the same engine used by two very successful U.S. Navy fighters, the Grumman F6F Hellcat and Vought F4U Corsair, itself the first to fly with Double Wasp power in late May of 1940 — was to be very effective as a short-to-medium range escort fighter in high-altitude air-to-air combat and, when deployed as a fighter-bomber with its usual "double quartet" of heavy-calibre M2 Browning machine guns, proved especially adept at ground attack in both the World War II European and Pacific Theaters.

The P-47 was one of the main United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) fighters of World War II, and served with other Allied air forces, notably those of France, Britain, and Russia. Mexican and Brazilian squadrons fighting alongside the U.S. were equipped with the P-47.

The armored cockpit was roomy inside, comfortable for the pilot, and offered good visibility. A modern-day U.S. ground-attack aircraft, the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, takes its name from the P-47. Orders for an additional 5,934 were cancelled when the war ended. 

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Republic Aviation
Production Period 1941 - 1945
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1941
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Bolivia View
Brazil View
Chile View
China View
Colombia View
Cuba View
Dominican Republic View
Ecuador View
France View
Guatemala View
Iran (Persia) View
Italy View
Mexico View
Nicaragua View
Peru View
Portugal View
Russia (USSR) View
Turkey (Ottoman Empire) View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) View
United States of America 1942 1966 View
Venezuela View
Yugoslavia (Serbia) View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Republic Aviation 1941 1945 15677 View

The P-47 Thunderbolt, or 'The Jug' as it came to be known, was a design of Georgian immigrant Alexander Kartveli, and was to replace the Seversky P-35 that was developed earlier by Russian immigrant Alexander P. de Seversky (born in the same place as Kartveli: Tbilisi, Georgia). Both had fled from their homeland to escape the Bolsheviks. 

In 1939, Republic Aviation designed the AP-4 demonstrator powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1830 radial engine with a belly-mounted turbocharger. While the resulting Republic P-43 Lancer was in limited production, Republic had been working on an improved P-44 Rocket with a more powerful engine, as well as on a fighter designated the AP-10. The latter was a lightweight aircraft powered by the Allison V-1710 liquid-cooled V-12 engine and armed with eight .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns. The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) backed the project and gave it the designation XP-47.

As the war in Europe escalated in spring 1940, Republic and the USAAC concluded that the XP-44 and the XP-47 were inferior to the Luftwaffe fighters. Republic unsuccessfully attempted to improve the design, proposing the XP-47A. Kartveli subsequently came up with an all-new and much larger fighter, which was offered to the USAAC in June 1940. The Air Corps ordered a prototype in September, to be designated the XP-47B. The XP-47A, which had almost nothing in common with the new design, was abandoned.

The XP-47B was of all-metal construction (except for the fabric-covered tail control surfaces) with elliptical wings, with a straight leading edge that was slightly swept back. The cockpit was roomy and the pilot's seat was comfortable—"like a lounge chair", as one pilot later put it. The pilot was provided with every convenience, including cabin air conditioning. The canopy doors hinged upward. Main and auxiliary self-sealing fuel tanks were placed under the cockpit, giving a total fuel capacity of 305 U.S. gal (1,155 L).

Role Fighter-bomber
Manufacturer Republic Aviation
Designer Alexander Kartveli
First flight 6 May 1941
Introduction 1942
Retired 1966, Peruvian Air Force
Primary users United States Army Air Forces
Royal Air Force
French Air Force
Produced 1941–1945
Number built 15,660 or 15,677
Unit cost US$85,000 in 1945
Variants Republic XP-72

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 36 ft 1 in (11.00 m)
  • Wingspan: 40 ft 9 in (12.42 m)
  • Height: 14 ft 8 in (4.47 m)
  • Wing area: 300 ft2 (27.87 m2)
  • Empty weight: 10,000 lb (4,535 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 12,731 lb (5,774.48 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 17,500 lb (7,938 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-59B twin-row radial engine, 2,600 hp (1,938 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 443 mph at 29,000 ft (713 km/h at 8,839 m)
  • Range: 800 mi combat, 1,800 mi ferry (1,290 km / 2,900 km)
  • Service ceiling: 43,000 ft (13,100 m)
  • Rate of climb: 3,180 ft/min (16.15 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 42.43 lb/ft2
  • Power/mass: 0.204 hp/lb (335 W/kg)


  • 8 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns (3400 rounds)
  • Up to 2,500 lb (1,134 kg) of bombs
  • 10 × 5 in (127 mm) unguided rockets

End notes