The P-47M was the faster production version of the Thunderbolt. That speed was achieved by using the Pratt & Whitney R-2800-14W or R-2800-57 engine, with the CH-5 turbo-supercharger. At full boost this engine could provide 2,800hp, giving the P-47M a top speed of 473mph at 32,000 feet, an improvement of 50mph over the P-47D.
The P-47M entered service with the 56th Fighter Group, based at Boxted, in early 1945. By that point the 56th FG was the only fighter group in the 8th Fighter Command still using the P-47. The P-47M was not used against the V-1 flying bombs, as is often stated – that campaign was already over by the time it entered service. It is possible that the three YP-47M pre-production aircraft were shipped to England to serve in this capacity, thus explaining the later confusion.
The P-47M suffered from a series of problems. The new engine was particularly problematic – at one point every engine in use was withdrawn and replaced by new units. It also has much shorter range than the P-47D.
It did not enter active service until April 1945, too late to make a significant contribution to the war. However, the massive increase in speed did allow the P-47M to shoot down a number of Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighters, whose pilots must have been surprised to find an apparently familiar aircraft almost keeping pace with them.
Engine: P&W R-2800-57 “C-series”
Max Speed: 475mph at 32,000 feet
Cruising Speed: 360 mph
Range: 530 miles at 26,000 feet
Ceiling: 41,000 feet
Span: 40ft 9.25in
Length: 36ft 1.75in