Republic P-47 Thunderbolt

aka the "Jug"

Note the paper drop tank on belly
Model by Ross Kelley-Vincent

          Pilots nicknamed it the "Jug." Ruggedly built, it was not easy to shoot down. It weighed seven tons and was an aerial tank. It could out-roll and out-dive any plane in the air. In a tight situation, a combat tactic of German pilots was to roll over and dive away from trouble. If trouble was a P-47 Thunderbolt, bad idea. It simply followed, with eight fifty-caliber machine-guns thundering.

          In 1943, the 8th Air Force launched raids on Germany with its B-17 and B-24 from England. The aim was to destroy German main production factories. Unfortunately, losses during theses missions were heavy and it became urgent to develop a fighter able to escort the bombers over enemy soil.

          The P-47 was equipped with the supercharged Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engine, the first single-seated fighter with a supercharger, allowing it to fly at the same high altitude as the bombers. This high-flying fighter proved very useful in the intense fighting that occurred in the European skies.

          Bomber crews plagued day after day by intensive German interceptions, remarked that the presence of fighters was of great help.

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P-47D flaming a FW-190 in a head-on attack
Note: single aluminum drop tank. Later, the bomb hard-point fairings on the wings were rigged to allow for more drop tanks for longer combat range.