Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

'Nellie B'


Registration: G-THUN

Operator: Fighter Aviation Engineering Ltd

Year of Manufacture: 1945

Powered by:  Pratt & Whitney R-2800-51M1

Colour Scheme: F4-J 'Nellie' 492nd Fighter Squadron 48th Fighter Group


The largest and heaviest single-seater piston-engine fighter in history, and the most numerous American fighter ever produced, the 'Jug' was a hugely successful high altitude escort and a formidable ground attack aircraft. 'Nellie' was built in 1945 at Republic's Evansville factory in Indiana. Serial 45-49192 the aircraft was built originally as a P-47D-40-RA. Detail of its service with the USAAF is not known, although it did serve with the Air Training Command during the last few months of the War, and was eventually stored at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma with the Air Material Command. This P-47D wears the code “F4” identifying character “J”. The squadron markings have a distinctive red checkerboard nose with red nose band and red rudder. It was restored to full operational status at Hensley Field in Texas 1952, after the Rio Pact had been signed by the USA and was assigned to the Military Assistance Program in September of that year. In 1953 it formed part of a group of P-47's which found their way to the Peruvian Air Force and it gave good service until 1967, initially as a frontline fighter and then as a fighter trainer. 492 FS were equipped with P-47’s in early 1944, flying their first combat missions in the type in April 1944. The squadron moved into Europe after assisting with the Normandy invasions with bombing and ground attack. The squadron is now based at RAF Lakenheath flying the F-15E Strike Eagle. At the end of 1942, P-47’s were sent to England for combat operations. The initial Thunderbolt flyers, 56th Fighter Group, was sent overseas to join the 8th Air Force. Early P-47s produced had a “razorback” canopy configuration with a tall fuselage spine behind the pilot, which resulted in poor visibility to the rear. The British also had this problem with their fighter aircraft and had devised the bulged “Malcolm hood” canopy for the Spitfire as an initial solution. This type of canopy was fitted in the field to many North American P-51 Mustangs, and to a handful of P-47Ds. However, the British then came up with a much better solution, devising an all-round vision “bubble canopy” for the Hawker Typhoon. USAAF officials liked the bubble canopy, and quickly adapted it to American fighters, including the P-51 and the Thunderbolt. As the P-47 Thunderbolt worked up to operational status, it gained a nickname: the “Jug” (because its profile was similar to that of a common milk jug of the time).

Images credit: Harry Measures