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P-47N "Super" Thunderbolt

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Republic P-47N-5 in three ship formation.
The P-47N was the last Thunderbolt variant to be produced. It was designed as an escort fighter for the B-29 Superfortress bombers flying raids on the Japanese home islands. Increased internal fuel capacity and drop tanks had done much to extend the Thunderbolt's range during its evolution, and the only other way to expand the fuel capacity was to put fuel tanks into the wings. Thus, a new wing was designed with two 50 U.S. gal (190 l) fuel tanks. The second YP-47M with this wing flew in September 1944. The redesign proved successful in extending range to about 2,000 mi (3,200 km), and the squared-off wingtips improved the roll rate. The P-47N entered mass production with the uprated R-2800-77(C) engine, with a total of 1,816 built. The very last Thunderbolt to be built, a P-47N-25, rolled off the production line in October 1945. Thousands more had been on order, but production was halted with the end of the war in August. At the end of production, a Thunderbolt cost $83,000 in 1945 U.S. dollars.

Expecting an Allied invasion of Japan, U.S. air experts decided in 1944 to improve the famous World War II fighter, the P-47 Thunderbolt. The plane they created, the P-47N, was the "ultimate" Thunderbolt, according to retired Col. Ralph D. Gibson, who flew the "N model" stateside in 1945.

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Pilots called the Thunderbolt the "Jug" for its portly shape, yet it was fast, maneuverable and, above all, survivable: A pilot knew that if his aircraft were hit by gunfire, he had an excellent chance of getting home.

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Like all Thunderbolts, the 1,816 P-17Ns built between 1944 and 1945 each had a corpulent Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine driving a massive 12-foot four-bladed propeller. But the new model introduced a longer-span wing and clipped wingtips.

The P-47N was produced expressly for the Pacific theater, where range was a concern. Its "wet" wings permitted a fuel capacity of 1,266 U.S. gallons, giving the fighter a remarkable range of 2,350 miles. The P-47N was one of the first fighters to have an automatic pilot for long-distance flying.

Gibson remembered that all Thunderbolts had a spacious, comfortable cockpit. Only the P-47N, however, had rudder pedals that folded down and transformed into leg rests for long-range flying.

And by relocating an air vent, the designers of the P-47N enabled Gibson to enjoy a soda on those long flights: "If I set a Coke bottle on the floor beside the air vent at 38,000 feet, it would get really, really cold," he remembered.

The first P-47N made its maiden flight in July 1944. The N model was too late for the war in Europe, but by August 1945 several P-47N fighter groups were carrying out long-range raids against the Japanese homeland.

Former Capt. Francis W. Johnson flew P-47N missions to Japan with the 414th Fighter Group. Sometimes the challenge was airmanship as much as the enemy. Johnson recalled an Aug. 1, 1945, mission:

"We had orders for airfield strafing with the first target being Okazaki. We carried two 165-gallon external fuel tanks and flew with rpm and throttle back to conserve fuel," he said.

"My wingman was a fine young lieutenant, Scott Coley. He couldn't stay with me when we entered thick clouds and went on instruments. When I finally got out of the clouds, he was nowhere to be seen. In fact, he was never seen again."

Republic built the last Thunderbolt in November 1945. Five years later, when Americans needed a prop-driven fighter for nasty air-to-ground work in Korea, the Pentagon tried to find enough P-47Ns (officially called F-47Ns after 1948), but Thunderbolts were almost out of inventory. The brass had no choice but to give the job to the less survivable Mustang.

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Republic P-47 THUNDERBOLT
Giant Scale Balsa Airplane WWII Models
Item: 1001
Wing Span: 30 1/4"
Scale: 1/16

Although partially overshadowed by the famous Mustang, the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt established a distinguished record as a high altitude interceptor and bomber escort. More Thunderbolts were manufactured during World War 2 than any other American fighter, and the seven-ton aircraft became extremely popular with A.A.F. pilots because of its ability to absorb extensive battle damage and remain flying. Perhaps the most outstanding tribute to this aircraft is the fact that all 10 of the leading Thunderbolt aces survived the war. The P-47 could easily out dive the enemy fighters and could "dish-out" terrible punishment form its eight 50 cal. Browning machine guns.

Guillow's Kit 1001 P47 Photo Courtesy: Xanadu

Guillow's Kit 1001 P47 Photo Courtesy: Poppy

**What Follows, is COMPLETE FICTION...

Fairchild Parker, one of America's most famous billionaires, was also one of the world's most important aviation innovators. One facet of his varied career revolved around his daring flights in the 1930s when he set several new aviation records. He also built one of the most important aviation manufacturing companies in history and was a major player in the growth and fortunes of Fairchild Airlines. Through most of his life, Parker was involved in aviation in one capacity or another but, of his many interests, flying was his greatest passion.

Parker was born in Houston, Texas, in December 1905, to a wealthy family. Orphaned at 17, he dropped out of school to take control of the family business--the Parker Aircraft Company, which had made a fortune thanks to a patent it held for a special aircraft carburetor. Although Parker maintained control of the company, he quickly set out for Los Angeles to pursue this main goal--to become the world's best pilot.

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Trade publication advertisement of the time.
To support his aviation ventures, Parker relied on Parker Aircraft Company in Glendale, California. The company consisted initially of Parker's own small team of designers and mechanics. Their mission was to build him the best racing planes in the world. The first aircraft they worked on and remodelled was an Army Air Corps pursuit plane. Parker captured his first aviation prize in it at the All-American Air Meet in Miami, Florida, on January 14, 1934, while averaged 185 miles per hour (298 kilometres per hour) over a 20-mile (32-kilometer) racecourse.

Soon after, Parker Aircraft built its first internally designed airplane--the Parker racer. The Parker was designed for speed, pure and simple; it was streamlining at its very best. On September 13, 1935, Parker piloted the Parker to a new speed record of 352 miles per hour (566 kilometres per hour) at Martin Field, near Santa Ana, California. The previous record was 314 miles per hour (515 kilometres per hour).

A new company was founded by Fairchild Parker in 1935 as Fairchild Aviation Corporation, based in Farmingdale, and East Farmingdale, New York. The company produced the first US aircraft to include a fully-enclosed cockpit and hydraulic landing gear, the Fairchild FC-1.

Early in 1936, the aerospace company Fairchild, owned by Fairchild Parker began purchasing Republic's stock and finally acquired Republic Aviation in July 1965. In September, Republic became the Republic Aviation Division of Fairchild Hiller and ceased to exist as an independent company.

The USAAF refused to give Republic any money for the development of the new XP-47B, so Republic paid for the construction of the first mock-up, reusing the cockpit area of the P-43. By the time the prototype was ready for testing, it weighed over 12,550 lb., 900 lb (410 kg) over the Army's limit for the new fighter design, and far more than any single-engine fighter ever developed. It also could carry only 298 gallons of fuel, 17 gallons less than the requirement, but the Army was generally pleased with its performance, achieving speeds of 412 mph (663 km/h) at 25,800 ft (7,900 m), and overlooked these issues.

**No Really, We MADE IT ALL UP!...

The U.S. entry into the war in December 1941 rapidly increased the need for the XP-47B and work on the plane progressed quickly. In June 1942, the Army took delivery of its first P-47Bs. They soon placed an order that required Republic Aviation to quadruple the size of their factory and build three new runways at the Farmingdale, New York factory. Eventually this proved inadequate, and in November 1942, the Army authorized the construction of a new factory adjacent to the Evansville, Indiana airport.

Throughout the war, the P-47 would undergo constant development. A bubble canopy was added to increase backward visibility. The final version of the P-47 would be the P-47N, a long-range version with longer wings and fuselage, and an increased fuel capacity. The P-47N was designed to escort B-29s on long missions to Japan for a planned invasion of the Japanese homeland that never came. Production of all versions ended in November, 1945. By then, 15,660 P-47s had been built, making it the most produced U.S. fighter of the war. 1,816 would be the long range P-47N model. This model would continue to serve with Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units until the mid 1950s.

Parker slightly redesigned the P-47N as the "Super Thunderbolt" for the 1947 National Air Races.

1947 National Air Races

The 1947 National Air Races moved back to Los Angeles CA at Mines Field, home of the 1928 races. Cliff Henderson, managing director trimmed the event down to four days by eliminating the Derbies and ATC races. The Bendix transcontinental would fly from East to West for the first departing from Floyd Bennett Field NY

The Bendix Race attracted no less than ten entries including two women pilots. The only bi-plane entered was the Laird Solution which had been highly modified. Two new aircraft, the Vance Flying Wing and the Seversky SEV-3 were on the aircraft entry list.

**We mean it, TOTAL FABRICATION...

Fairchild Parker actually won the race in his "Super Thunderbolt" at a speed of 441.0 and was awarded the Trophy when a race official declared he was disqualified. Parker had gone inside of pylon #2 but kept going for safety reasons (heavy traffic at the pylon) however he re-circled pylon #2 on the next lap and regained the lead. The Trophy was awarded to Jimmy Wedell.

MEANWHILE, SOMEWHERE IN SOUTHERN GREAT BRITAIN...

Bovril: Morning, squadron leader.

Squadron Leader: What-ho, Squiffy.

Bovril: How was it?

Squadron Leader: Top hole. Bally Jerry pranged his kite right in the how's your father. Hairy blighter, dicky-birdied, feathered back on his Sammy, took a waspy, flipped over on his Betty Harper's and caught his can in the Bertie.

Bovril: Er, I'm afraid I don't quite follow you, squadron leader.

Squadron Leader: It's perfectly ordinary banter, Squiffy. Bally Jerry ... pranged his kite right in the how's yer father ... hairy blighter, dicky-birdied, feathered back on his Sammy, took a waspy, flipped over on his Betty Harper's and caught his can in the Bertie.

Bovril: No, I'm just not understanding banter at all well today. Give us it slower.

Squadron Leader: Banter's not the same if you say it slower, Squiffy.

Bovril: Hold on, then. (shouts) Wingco!

Wingco: Yes!

Bovril: Bend an ear to the squadron leader's banter for a sec, would you?

Wingco: Can do.

Bovril: Jolly good.

Wingco: Fire away.

Squadron Leader: (draws a deep breath and looks slightly uncertain, then starts even more deliberately then before) Bally Jerry ... pranged his kite ... right in the how's your father ... hairy blighter ... dicky-birdied ... ... feathered back on his Sammy ... took a waspy ... flipped over on his Betty Harper's ... and caught his can in the Bertie.

Wingco: ... No, don't understand that banter at all.

Squadron Leader: Something up with my banter, chaps?

A siren goes. The door bursts open and an out-of-breath young pilot rushes in in his flying gear.

Pilot: Bunch of monkeys on your ceiling, sir! Grab your egg and fours and let's get the bacon delivered.

General incomprehension. They look at each other

Wingco: Do you understand that?

Squadron Leader: No, didn't get a word of it.

Wingco: Sorry old man, we don't understand your banter.

Pilot: You know ... bally ten-penny ones dropping in the custard ... (searching for the words) um ... Charlie Choppers chucking a handful ...

Wingco: No, no ... sorry.

Bovril: Say it a bit slower, old chap.

Pilot: Slower banter, sir?

Wingco: Ra-ther!

Pilot: Um ... sausage squad up the blue end!

Squadron Leader: No, still don't get it.

Pilot: Um ... cabbage crates coming over the briny?

Squadron Leader: No.

Wingco, Pilot and Bovril: No, no ...

But by then it was too late. The first cabbage crates hit London by July 7th. That was just the beginning...

The following tips contain editorial points of view that might be disturbing to younger or more sensitive viewers. Opinions in these tips reflect the views of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Guillow's, VA, or PIR, or any human being living or dead...

So, let's build Fairchild Parker's 1947 "Super Thunderbolt Race Plane" You can click the images to enlarge them...

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Experience has taught that strengthening of certain parts of the aircraft will increase the service life of our flying model.

This thing is going to fly U-Control, and as such weight will not really be an issue, but let's keep the cinderblocks and structural steel to a minimum in this project. So... Step one is to draft up a new copy of the wing plan, creating a template of the wing, and eliminating half of the wing formers. We won't need em. Also squared the wingtips a bit, to somewhat emulate the P-47N variant, the real Super Bolt...

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The bottom surface of the wing is 1/32" balsa sheeting. Using the wing template we made, mark your 1/32 and cut out the shape. Mark your wing formoer locations on the 1/32 and pin it down. We pinned it down over the plan, and in hindsite realize it wasn't any help hidden under the balsa sheet. Designed a 1/8" "stiffener" strut to go down the wing center. It probably wasn't neccessary to wing integrity, but was fun to design build and install. Leading edge is 5 pieces 1/8" balsa. The outboard pieces are tapered from the thicker inbord wing former to the thinner wing tip former, and 2 pieces laminated. The center piece is just 1/8" thick. It'll make it easier to install the wing to the fuse later. Trailing edge is 2 1/8" square sticks curved and laminated together.

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Wanted to redesign the fuse a tad to take away a bit of the JUG and add a bit of SVELDT. Not much but a tad. Did this by replacing B2 thru B7 with copies of B1. Doubled up B6 and B7 to make the longeron slots magically line up. Made the top keel straight instead of a gentle curve, and eliminated the cockpit hole. (we'll just paint a black spot on top and cover it with the can of peas. This slightly changed the angle of the lower rear keel so we redrafted the plan, and started cutting balsa.
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Wing is finished and ready for sanding, then landing gear struts will have to be engineered and installed. Wingtips are laminated balsa 1/8" and will be sanded and covered with silkspan. This wing has NO dihedral, as we don't want this pig to roll while flying the circle. In U-Control World, dihedral ain't your friend.

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Formers B1 thru B7 are all the same, with the exception that B7 has notches corresponing to the kit B7 former. This allows the allignment of the rear fuse longerons. The side keels are straight pieces as well, rather than the slow curve. They are also 2 pieces per side of the fuse. This makes the fuse mor angular and less "juggy." Formers B4 and B5 are measured to the wing hump (lower keel) cut, and added a cross piece to glue to, and installed.
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Bite the ole bullet and set up your U-Control Bellcrank at this point. If you don't... Well it ain't gonna be a U-Control Plane...

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second side of the fuse coming together with bellcrank platform installed. The cross piece for former B5 can be seen here.
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LONGERONS till ya die...

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For those of us who cannot use CA Glue, adding the longerons is a 3 day proccess... Tedium is my friend...
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First mock up...

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artsy fartsy, but you can see the bellcrank platform installed, and the B4 and B5 cross pieces.
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Second mock up, and I don't know why.

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The Landing Gear Sandwich. The Guillow's landing gear system for the warbirds, where you tie them on with a piece of string is a non-starter. What we do is make a landing gear strut wire and balsa sandwich and glue that baby in place with yellow glue. Now. they'll stay put.
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One of my favorite inovations. Hardpoints. Okay so you have your plane hung up on the ceiling out of everybuddy's way... You take her down to fly her, and all goes well. So you bring her back and leave her sitting on the bench because it's a pain to hang her back up on the ceiling. No wait! You installed hardpoints top and bottom on your bird! Good for you! Now it takes seconds to re-hang the plane. Ain't you smart?

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Not sure what we call this technique, but you measure and cut and sand till you can fit a hunk of 1/8" balsa in between the longerons and formers in the fuse, then you glue it up, then you do it again...
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Until you frappin' die...

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Then you start gluing up the Guillow's Plastic Parts...
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And so if it's Tuesday, it must be Tail Feathers.... Built normal Guillow's style, then planked with 1/32" balsa. Sanded all purty...

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Hinged elevator, and offset rudder...
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Mock up with... Firewall... Fuse plastics... wings w/landing gear struts... tail feathers... well...? Get on with it... Cover something!

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I took 27 8-by-10 color glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us.
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Not to mention the aerial photograhpy....

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Let's get this wing covered. Medium Silkspan is the ticket.
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Thoroughly modified and re-designed tail end of the fuse, simply works better than 1/16" stringers...

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A covered and doped wing is a happy wing...
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Race Planes NEED wheel pants. Even when the race plane is a P-47 with retractable gear. This is going to either be really nifty looking, or....

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All covered then... Time to make and run a check list and get this thing ready to paint. What do you say... Red and Black?
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Check list? We don't need no steeenkin' check list... Wait a minute! Yeah we do. 1.. Make wheel pants parts. 2.. Cut covering in fuse for bellcrank access. 3.. Cut covering in fuse rear for pushrod access. 4.. Design, build and install tailwheel assembly. 5.. Paint wheels and tires 6.. Assemble wheel pants. 7.. Install wheel pants. 8.. Install wing 9.. Build and cover belley. 10.. Install wing fairings 11.. Install tail feathers... We'll get this done, and then make a new list...

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Make wheel pants... 1" balsa spacers sandwiched between 1/8" balsa covers. 1/8" balsa struts will sandwich the gear strut wires already installed in the wing.
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Silkspan removed for bellcrank access.

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Silkspan removed for pushrod access.
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Design, build and install tailwheel assembly.

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Guillow's 1000 Series landing gear tires. Hate em but love em. They're tall and they're kewl looking, but don't stand up to hard landings... We'll be careful...
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Make wheel pants... Note groove cut vertically in pant strut to accomodate wire strut.

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Install wheel pants... Sandwich wire strut. Horizontal part of wire strut goes through the wheel pant bottom to keep pant straight, and serve as a retainer for the tires.
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Install the wing. Painted the insides of the wheel pants before I put it together. Guilty of thinking... Note wire strut pokes through pant.

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The beginnings of an installed belly...
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There's one now!

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Watching the glue dry on the fairings. Another couple of weeks and we'll have it licked. Ho... Hummmm...
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Add some tail feathers... Time for another check list...

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NEXT:

still thinking on it... stand by......

Parker Information Resources
Houston, Texas
E-mail: bparker@parkerinfo.com
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