Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

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The P-47D was the most important version of the Thunderbolt. A total of 12,609 P-47Ds were built, in more than twenty variants, at two factories. As the number of Thunderbolts on order increased, Republic realised that their Farmingdale factory would not be able to keep up with demand. Their response was to build a new factory at Evansville. Initially the P-47D designation was intended to distinguish aircraft produced at Evansville. However, when Farmingdale also began to produce P-47Ds it was decided to give each factory its own designation. Evansville produced Thunderbolts received the –RA designation, Farmingdale the –RE (for Republic).

P-47D-RA

This was the first model of Thunderbolt to be built at Republic’s new Evansville factory. Other than the change of location, the D-RA was identical to the earlier P-47C-2. 110 of this model were built.

P-47D-1-RE

The D-1 saw a series of minor changes from the C-2, most significant of which was the addition of extra engine cowl flaps, which significantly improved air flow around the engine, thus improving engine cooling. It was also the first model of the P-47D to be produced at Farmingdale. 105 of this model were produced.

P-47D-2 (-RE and –RA)
The D-2 system was produced at both Republic factories. 665 were produced. The only significant change from the D-1 was the removal of the turbocharger shroud.

P-47D-3-RA
The D-3 was a minor upgrade to the D-2, and was only produced at Evansville.

P-47D-4-RA
The D-4 was an Evansville built version of the D-5, using the same C-21 supercharger as the D-5, but will less success. In total 200 of the -3 and -4s were built.

P-47D-5-RE
The D-5 used the GE C-21 supercharger and regulator, and had provision for water injection. Together these provided the Thunderbolt with a big increase in power for short periods in combat. The D-5 also saw the addition of an underbelly system for carrying fuel drop tanks or one 500lb bomb. This had first been used as a field modification on the P-47C, and now became a standard factory feature. 300 D-5s were produced.

P-47D-6-RE

The D-6 only saw minor changes to the electrical system. 350 were built.

P-47D-10-RE

The D-10 saw the installation of a new engine, the Pratt & Whitney R-2800-63, capable of producing 2,300hp. Changes were also made to the water injection system, along with a variety of minor changes. 250 were built.

P-47D-11 (-RE and –RA)

The D-11 was produced at both factories. It contained all of the features introduced between the D-5 and D-10, as well as an electrically powered water pump linked to the throttle. 650 were built.

Republic P-47D Thunderbolt with rocket launchers
Republic P-47D Thunderbolt with rocket launchers

P-47D-15 (-RE, -RA)

The D-15 saw a major change. It was the first model of Thunderbolt with under-wing pylons, allowing it to carry two 108 gallon drop tanks of British design. It also had stronger wings, which allowed it to carry up to 2,500lbs of bombs or rockets. 653 were built.

P-47D-16 (RE and RA)
The D-16 was similar to the D-15 but with minor changes to the fuel system. 283 were built.

P-47D-20 (RE and RA)
The D-20 was the first version of the Thunderbolt to use a universal wing. This was a British idea, and allowed each aircraft to switch between different payloads very quickly. On the Thunderbolt this involved making some changes to the under wing pylons to reduce the time needed to switch from fuel tanks to bombs or rockets. 487 were built.

P-47D-21 (RE and RA)
The D-21 was very similar to the D-20. The only significant change was to the button on the throttle that controlled the water injection system. 487 were built.

P-47D-22-RE

The D-22-RE saw the two factories begin to use different propellers. At Farmingdale the D-22 used a Hamilton Standard Hydramatic 244E50-65 propeller, which had wider, longer propeller blades than the Curtis Electric propeller used on earlier aircraft. The new propeller improved the performance of the aircraft by making better use of the high level of power provided by the engine. 850 were built.

P-47D-23-RA

The D-23 saw Evansville also change propellers, but to the Curtis Electric C542S propeller. This was similar is size and concept to the Hamilton model used on the D-22. 889 were built.

P-47D-25-RE

The P-47D-25-RE saw the introduction of a clear bubbletop canopy, as used on the Hawker Typhoon. This removed the 20 degree blind spot to the rear caused by the original razorback design. This did cause some problems with the handling of the aircraft, as the razorback had helped provide some stability in the air. This problem would later be solved by fitting a small dorsal fin between the back of the canopy and the tail-plane. The D-25 also saw an increase in internal fuel capacity from 305 to 370 gallons. The first D-25-RE was completed on 3 July 1943. 385 were built.

P-47D-26-RA

The D-25 saw the Evansville factory adopt the bubbletop canopy. It was otherwise identical to the D-25 other than the use of the Curtis Electric propeller. 250 were built.

P-47D-27-RE

The D-27 saw an extra 130hp coaxed out of the Thunderbolt’s engines by the use of a water injection system in the engine. 615 were built.

P-47D-28

The D-28 was produced by both factories. Both factories used the Electric C542S propeller. A radio compass was added along with other minor cockpit changes. 1,778 were built.

P-47D-30
The D-30 saw the largest production run of any version of the Thunderbolt, with 2,600 built between the two Republic factories. The most importance chance was the addition of dive breaks under the wing, designed to slightly slow the speed of the Thunderbolt in the dive in an attempt to reduce the problems caused by the very high speeds achieved.

P-47D-40-RA

The final production block for the P-47D saw the addition of a small dorsal fin to solve a problem with tail flutter caused by the use of the bubble canopy. The D-40 also saw zero-rail rocket launch stubs fitted, to replace the three tube bazooka style tubes used on earlier aircraft. Production of the D-40 was concentrated at Evansville, while Farmingdale moved on to the P-47M and P-47N.

Production Figures

12609 P-47Ds built
830 to Great Britain
427 to France
203 to USSR
88 to Brazil
22 to Mexico

Stats (for D-28)

Engine: R-2800-59
Horsepower: 2000 (2430 in War Emergency setting)
Span: 40ft 9.25in
Length: 36ft 1.76in
Weight: 10,000lb empty, 17,500 max take off
Speed: 428mph at 30,000ft.
Ceiling: 42,000 feet
Range: 1,030 miles at 10,000 feet
Armament: Eight .50 calibre machine guns

Stats (for D-40)

Engine: Pratt & Whitney R-2800-59
Horsepower: 2000 (2430 in War Emergency setting)
Propeller: 13inch diameter Curtis Electric C542S
Span: 40ft 9 5/16in
Length: 36ft 1.75in
Weight: 10,000lb empty, 17,500 max take off
Speed: 426mph at 30,000 feet
Ceiling: 42,000 feet
Range: 1,030 miles at 10,000 feet
Armament: Eight .50 calibre machine guns
Payload: 2500lbs

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (13 May 2007), Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_P-47D.html

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