Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

Another group is another excuse to revisit this favorite type.

Let’s take a quick look at a 9th Air Force ground pounder.

The 368th Fighter Group was in many ways a typical 9th Air Force fighter group. They flew their first combat missions in March 1944. As part of the lead up to D-Day they attacked rail lines, supply depots and V weapon sites. Two weeks after the invasion, on June 20th, they relocated to the continent and served the rest of the War there. In September they received a Distinguished Unit Citation for their close support work in France. They also received a similar decoration from Belgium for their assistance in liberating that country in late 1944 and early 1945.
The group was indicated by the yellow fin tip above the standard black recognition band used on all (read that as most!) 9th Air Force Thunderbolts. The distinctive red nose indicates the 395th Fighter Squadron. The group’s other squadrons having a similar yellow (396th FS) or blue (397th FS) marking.

This particular aircraft was apparently a floater, no regular pilot assignment is normally noted. But one reference does list Lt Bill Wayland as a regular pilot, who coincidently had four aerial victories in December 1944; it seems likely at least the kills shown are Lt Wayland’s. That may all mean the name and other unique markings were maintained by the Crew Chief for his aircraft regardless of pilot. It was apparently attractive enough to be well photographed, including some color shots.

This is the Tamiya kit, always a fun build.

I can’t find much specific documentation on this aircraft, except it seems likely the four kills shown were scored by Lt Bill Wayland in December 1944.

The decals are from PYN-up Decals (Pick Your Nose Art Decals). An always excellent product in spite of the silly name. The very detailed write-up and markings guide is most appreciated. It is noted that the yellow wing tips are speculative. There is clearly some sort of color break on the tips, they might be white or even just a change in the tint of the metal. But yellow looks good.

The real thing, after a bad landing or taxi incident. [photo via]

About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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6 Responses to Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

  1. jfwknifton says:

    I’ve always admired the P-47. It just looks so powerful and dangerous!

  2. Ernie Davis says:

    Like the B24 versus the B17 among the bombers the Thunderbolt never really gets the credit for arguably carrying more of the load when it came to the fighters that ended the Luftwaffe. It does have a certain utilitarian aesthetic that says “power”, but it suffers in comparison to the Mustang, which was apparently a joy to fly and looks like what it is, a predator among planes.

    • atcDave says:

      There’s a story I always love about when Alexander Kartvali first proposed the design with the biggest engine and biggest super-charger available, add to that their own huge turbo-charger, he looked at his work and said it would be a beast. So fitting.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I remember an Air Force friend remarking that with enough thrust even a brick becomes aerodynamic (in reference to the F4 Phantom). The Thunderbolt had a lot more going for it, but one must never underestimate the benefits of being a beast with an insanely powerful engine.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ve heard that quip about the F-4! It’s not hard to see some of the same thought with the Thunderbolt.

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