DAYTON, Ohio -- Recovered from the crash site and obtained by the museum, the actual vertical fin of Republic P-47D "Fiery Ginger IV" is on display in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The P-47 was one of the most famous U.S. Army Air Forces fighter planes in World War II. Although the P-47 was originally conceived as a lightweight interceptor, it became a heavy fighter-bomber -- the P-47's maximum weight was over 17,000 pounds, while the comparable P-51 Mustang's was about 12,000 pounds. The prototype made its first flight in May 1941, and Republic delivered the first production P-47 in March 1942. In April 1943 over Western Europe, the Thunderbolt flew its first combat mission.
During WWII, the Thunderbolt served in almost every war theater and in the forces of several Allied nations. Used as a high-altitude escort fighter and a low-level fighter-bomber, the P-47 quickly gained a reputation for ruggedness. Its sturdy construction and air-cooled radial engine enabled the Thunderbolt to absorb severe battle damage and keep flying. By the end of WWII, more than 15,000 Thunderbolts had been built.
The P-47D "Razorback" Thunderbolt on display is an early version of the "D," nicknamed for the ridge behind the cockpit (later P-47Ds had a bubble canopy). It is painted to appear as the Thunderbolt Col. Neel Kearby flew on his last mission. Col. Kearby named all of his aircraft Fiery Ginger after his red-headed wife Virginia. Recovered from the crash site and obtained by the museum, the actual vertical fin of Fiery Ginger IV is also on display.
This aircraft was donated by Republic Aviation Corp. in November 1964.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: Eight .50-cal. machine guns and 10 5-in. rockets or 1,500 lbs. of bombs Engine:Pratt & Whitney R-2800 of 2,430 hp
Maximum speed: 433 mph Cruising speed: 260 mph Range: 1,100 miles (with auxiliary fuel tanks) Ceiling: 42,000 ft. Span: 40 ft. 9 in. Length: 36 ft. 1 in. Height: 14 ft. 2 in. Weight: 13,500 lbs. loaded Serial number: 42-23278