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Republic P-47

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was the biggest and heaviest single-engine fighter of the war. The P-47 was a development of the Seversky P-35 and the Republic P-43. The P-43 Lancer had the same appearance as the P-47 but was smaller. The Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine and supercharger were the heart of the P-47 and it was designed around these two systems. The first flight of the P-47 was on May 6, 1941. The prototype P-47 had a car-style door for cockpit entry. For production aircraft, this was changed to a backward sliding canopy. It packed a punch with eight .50 caliber machine guns in the wings. These could surgically remove a wing or tail of an enemy aircraft. Weighing in at around 10,000 pounds (5 tons), the P-47 could outdive any other plane in the air at the time. It also have a good climb rate for such a large aircraft. This was achieved by the huge four-bladed paddle propeller. The P-47 entered combat on April 13, 1943 in the European Theater, where it was primarily used. It provided the much needed escort for American bombers, although it didn't have too good of a range. Drop tanks solved this problem. The P-47D introduced the bubble-canopy, which gave a 360 degree view. It eventually found a niche as a ground attack aircraft, where it's eight .50 caliber machine guns and variety of bombs and rockets tore thousands of targets apart. The P-47 was used by the U.S.A.A.F., the British in the Pacific, Mexico, France, Russia, and Brazil. In fact, when the RAF pilots who flew sleek Spitfires first saw the cow of a fighter, they questioned whether it could compete with the Luftwaffe fighters. They were impressed after seeing it in combat.

P-47's in close formation.

The cockpit of the P-47 was quite roomy compared to other fighters of the day.