The P-47 Thunderbolt was one of the most successful American fighters of World War II. The initial concept for the Thunderbolt was as a light weight interceptor, but the aircraft that eventually came out of the Republic factories was the largest and heaviest single-seat fighter ever accepted by the Army Air Forces.
The Thunderbolt made its debut as a long-range escort fighter, but the plane really made its name as a fighter-bomber. The P-47's heavy armor and 8 machine gun armament made it perfect for strafing and rocket attacks near the front lines.
The P-47D is the most built version of the Thunderbolt with over 12,000 constructed. Unusually, the P-47D underwent a major design change mid-way through the production run without a corresponding change in the letter designation. The early D models had a high rear deck that came up behind the pilot’s head. This caused a significant blind spot to the rear. In late 1943, the design was modified to lower the rear deck and incorporate a bubble canopy that effectively eliminated the blind spot.
384th Fighter Group, 342nd Fighter Squadron, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 1943
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