|The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
"The Big Beautiful Jug"
|Major P-47 Thunderbolt Variations, Serial Numbers, & Production
|“#7” Republic P-47B 41-5902, the 7th off the production line,
flown by Gilbert Meyers in 1942 while assigned to the 56th FG stateside.
The P-47B was fitted with a Pratt & Whitney R-2800-21 engine rated at 2000 hp.
The engine drove a 12' 2"diameter Curtiss Electric C542S-A6 propeller.
The P-47B had an empty weight of 9,346lbs and a maximum loaded weight of 13,360 pounds.
The P-47B was essentially a test model and most were modified and quickly replaced by the P-47C model.
Only 171 P-47B models were built and very few were sent overseas.
P-47B Serial Numbers: 41-5895 to 6065
The first Thunderbolt to be considered truly combat-ready was the P-47C-2-RE.
Perhaps the most important change introduced by this production block was the provision for shackles and
a release mechanism for a bomb or a fuel tank on the underside of the belly. When carrying a 200-gallon
belly tank the range was extended to 1250 miles at an altitude of 10,000 feet.
The P-47C-5-RE introduced revised radio, instruments, and antenna. Cockpit heating was also introduced.
The P-47C was the first Thunderbolts to see combat in Europe.
602 P-47Cs were delivered by February 1943, when the improved P-47D replaced it on the production line.
P-47C Serial Numbers:
41-6066 to 6123 Republic P-47C-RE Thunderbolt
41-6124 to 6177 Republic P-47C-1-RE Thunderbolt
41-6178 to 6305 Republic P-47C-2-RE Thunderbolt
41-6306 to 6667 Republic P-47C-5-RE Thunderbolt
The Early P-47D differed very little from the P-47C-5-RE. The P-47D had changes in the turbo
supercharger exhaust system which incorporated an adjustable duct and redesigned vents for the engine
accessory section. Additional cowl flaps were fitted to improve engine cooling airflow.
More extensive armor protection was provided for the pilot.
Demand for the Thunderbolt was so great that Republic built a new factory at Evansville, Indiana to
augment production of the P-47D. 1050 P-47Ds were ordered from Evansville on January 31, 1942, and
the first Evansville-built P-47D (serial number 42-22250) rolled off the assembly line in September of 1942.
Evansville-built P-47Ds were distinguished by the use of the RA manufacturer letter code rather than RE.
Curtis built 354 P-47's designated P-47G, these were identical as the Republic versions, however most
Curtis built P-47's remained stateside and were used by training units.
All early Thunderbolts used the R-2800-21 engine. Water injection capability was added to this engine
beginning with the D-4-RA and D-5-RE production blocks. Provision was made for the mounting of
15-gallon tank carrying a water-alcohol mixture to the bulkhead just aft of the engine. A line from this tank
was plumbed directly into the fuel intake. When injected into the combustion chamber, the water checked a
dangerous rise in cylinder head temperature while manifold pressure was boosted. For brief instants, a
15-percent increase in engine power could be obtained, giving a maximum war emergency power of 2300
hp. In the D-5-RE, D-6-RE, and D-10-RE (D-4-RA, production bolcks, the pilot manually controlled the
water flow of the injector, but the injection procedure was automatically- controlled on the D-11-RE
(D-11-RA) and subsequent blocks. This happened when the throttle was pushed forward into its last
half-inch of travel.
|"Miss Second Front" Republic P-47D-15-RE 42-76325
Underwing pylons were introduced on the D-15 production blocks.
These enabled a drop tank or a bomb to be carried underneath each wing in addition to the stores carried on
the belly shackles. Bomb selection increased to two 1000lbs or three 500lbs bombs, with maximum bomb
load being 2500lbs. Alternatively, a 108 gallon drop tank could be carried underneath each wing, adding
150 miles to the P-47's range.
|"Margie II" Republic P-47D-20-RE 42-76484 flown by 1st Lt. Gerald Grace
Production batches from the D-20 onward were fitted with a "universal" wing which could carry a variety
of drop tanks or bombs. These batches also introduced the R-2800-59 engine with an improved ignition
system. The power was the same as that of the -63, with a war emergency power output of 2300 hp.
|"Wild Bette" Republic P-47D-22-RE 42-26130 flown by 1st Lt. Richard Kik
Production batches D-22-RE and D-23-RA, a 13' diameter paddle-bladed propeller (either a Hamilton
Standard Hydromatic 24E50-65 or a Curtiss Electric C542S) was fitted to make full use of the additional
power provided by water injection. Blocks D-22-RE and D-23-RA were also provided with a jettisonable
cockpit canopy which was activated by the pilot pulling a ring. A bullet-proof windshield was fitted, and
internal fuel capacity was increased.
The "Bubbletop" is born
The USAAF fitted a standard P-47D-5-RE airframe (serial number 42-8702) with a bubble canopy taken
from a Hawker Typhoon. In order to accommodate the bubble canopy, the Republic design team had to cut
down the rear fuselage. This conversion was redesignated XP-47K, and was tested in July 1943. This
modification was immediately proven to be feasible, and was promptly introduced on both the Farmingdale
and Evansville production lines.
|"Rough and Ready" Republic P-47D-28-RE 44-20268 flown by Capt. Bill Garry
Ordinarily, the USAAF would have given such a radical modification a completely new variant letter.
The USAAF chose instead to designate it simply by giving it a new production block number in the D-series.
The first batches to feature this new bubble canopy were Farmingdale's P-47D-25-RE and Evansville's
P-47D-26-RA. These batches also had the R-2800-59 or -63 engines, the paddle-bladed propeller, and the
"universal" wing first introduced on the "razorback" P-47D-20-RE. Stronger belly shackles capable of
carrying a 91.6 Imp. gall. drop tank were fitted. This tank, together with the 170.6 Imp. gall. main fuselage
tank, an 83-gallon auxiliary fuel tank and two 125-gallon underwing tanks, made it possible to carry a total
fuel load of 595 gallons, providing a maximum range of 1800 miles at 10,000 feet.
|"Lizzy" Republic P-47D-30-RE 44-20456 flown by Capt. Les Leavoy
The early "bubble-canopy" Thunderbolts had suffered from some directional instability as a result of the loss
of aft keel area. From the P-47D-30-RE production lots onward, a dorsal fin was fitted just ahead of the
rudder. This innovation successfully restored the stability.
The high diving speeds of which the Thunderbolt was capable pushed the aircraft into the edge of
compressibility, and new blunt-nosed ailerons were fitted to improve controllability at these high speeds. In
order to help in dive recovery at these high speeds, an electrically-operated dive recovery flap was fitted on
the undersurfaces of each wing.
Republic Farmingdale produced a total of 2547 bubbletop P-47D's and Evansville produced 4632.
|P-47D Serial Numbers:
Farmingdale, NY (-RE serial numbers)
Evansville, IN (-RA serial numbers)
42-7853 - 7957 Republic P-47D-1-RE Thunderbolt
42-7958 - 8402 Republic P-47D-2-RE Thunderbolt
42-8403 - 8702 Republic P-47D-5-RE Thunderbolt
42-22250 - 22363 Republic P-47D-1-RA Thunderbolt
42-22364 - 22563 Republic P-47D-2-RA Thunderbolt
42-22564 - 22663 Republic P-47D-3-RA Thunderbolt
42-22664 - 22863 Republic P-47D-4-RA Thunderbolt
42-22864 - 23113 Republic P-47D-11-RA Thunderbolt
42-23114 - 23142 Republic P-47D-16-RA Thunderbolt
42-23143 - 23299 Republic P-47D-15-RA Thunderbolt
42-25274 - 25322 Republic P-47D-20-RE Thunderbolt
42-25323 - 25538 Republic P-47D-21-RE Thunderbolt
42-25539 - 26388 Republic P-47D-22-RE Thunderbolt
42-26389 - 26773 Republic P-47D-25-RE Thunderbolt
42-26774 - 27388 Republic P-47D-27-RE Thunderbolt
42-27389 - 28188 Republic P-47D-23-RA Thunderbolt
42-28189 - 28438 Republic P-47D-26-RA Thunderbolt
42-28439 - 29466 Republic P-47D-28-RA Thunderbolt
42-74615 - 74964 Republic P-47D-6-RE Thunderbolt
42-74965 - 75214 Republic P-47D-10-RE Thunderbolt
42-75215 - 75614 Republic P-47D-11-RE Thunderbolt
42-75615 - 75864 Republic P-47D-15-RE Thunderbolt
42-75865 - 76118 Republic P-47D-16-RE Thunderbolt
42-76119 - 76364 Republic P-47D-15-RE Thunderbolt
42-76365 - 76614 Republic P-47D-20-RE Thunderbolt
43-25254 - 25440 Republic P-47D-20-RA Thunderbolt
43-25441 - 25664 Republic P-47D-21-RA Thunderbolt
43-25665 - 25753 Republic P-47D-23-RA Thunderbolt
44-19558 - 20307 Republic P-47D-28-RE Thunderbolt
44-20308 - 21107 Republic P-47D-30-RE Thunderbolt
44-32668 - 33867 Republic P-47D-30-RA Thunderbolt
44-89684 - 90283 Republic P-47D-30-RA Thunderbolt
44-90284 - 90483 Republic P-47D-40-RA Thunderbolt
45-49090 - 49554 Republic P-47D-40-RA Thunderbolt
Serials of Curtiss built P-47Gs:
42-24920 - 24939 Curtiss P-47G-CU Thunderbolt
42-24940 - 24979 Curtiss P-47G-1-CU Thunderbolt
42-24980 - 25039 Curtiss P-47G-5-CU Thunderbolt
42-25040 - 25119 Curtiss P-47G-10-CU Thunderbolt
42-25120 - 25273 Curtiss P-47G-15-CU Thunderbolt
|P-47D-28-RA 42-29257 - Retrofitted with dorsal fin
|P-47D-26-RA 42-28830 - No dorsal fin
|The P-47 Thunderbolt was produced by Republic Aviation in 2 factories
Farmingdale, NY (-RE serial numbers)
Evansville, IN (-RA serial numbers)
Curtis Aircraft Industries produced a limited number of P-47's (-CU serial numbers)
Retrofitted with dorsal fin
|P-47D-2-RE Instrument Panel - Courtesy Matieu Bianchi
|P-47D-5-RE Instrument Panel - Courtesy Matieu Bianchi
|P-47D-28-RE Instrument Panel - Courtesy Matieu Bianchi
|P-47D-30-RE Instrument Panel - Courtesy Matieu Bianchi
|I highly recommend Joe Baugher Aircraft Serial Numbers Website for continued research
of P-47 Thunderbolt individual airframe disposition