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Thunderbolt Lightfoot

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About Thunderbolt Lightfoot

  • Birthday 11/30/1968

Personal Information

  • Flight Simulators
    DCS // Prepar3D v5 // FSX Steam Edition // IL-2 Sturmovik Great Battles series // IL-2 Flying Circus // IL-2 Sturmovik Cliffs of Dover // IL-2 Sturmovik 1946
  • Location
    Great Falls, Montana
  • Interests
    Military history, harmonicas, guitars
  1. "No Guts No Glory" is now "Nellie B." Here is a really engaging article about her: Richard Grace on flying P-47D Thunderbolt 'Nellie B' (vintageaviationecho.com) A high resolution photo of the instrument panel, throttle and pedals is in the article.
  2. I've seen the primer switch in the early P-47N Pilot's Flight Operating Instructions too, in illustrations showing what I think is a P-47N-1 panel because the electric bomb release panel under the parking brake is also shown (ie, not the HVAR counter). The illustrations in the P-47N PFOI and training manual do not have the primer pump handle. I've also noticed an empty hole next to the starter on P-47D-30-RA S/N 44-32691, an airframe produced at the same Evansville, Indiana plant as the P-47D-40-RA series. That's only an observation...not a conclusive statement about primer switches equipped in either variant. But as similar as the P-47D-40 was in many regards to the early P-47N blocks, I think it is very likely that the P-47D-40 should have an electric primer. Interestingly it seems the D-40 should also have the primer pump handle -- which I'm basing on surviving P-47D-40s including 44-90368 (displayed as P-47D-30 "Tarheel Hal") pictured below. Restorations are a tricky reference though.
  3. P-47D-40-RA (P-47D-25-RE) "Hairless Joe": Album: Facebook Website: Republic P-47D-40RA (P-47D-25RE) Thunderbolt – History, Culture, Arts, Technology by Randall Malmstrom (wordpress.com)
  4. An excellent photo album of a wonderful P-47 restoration including detailed cockpit images can be found here: Facebook. You can also access the Facebook album via Randy's Warbird Profiles: P-47-40-RA Thunderbolt. (There are fewer photos on the website). Many of the photos are also here: Republic P-47D-40-RA Thunderbolt – History, Culture, Arts, Technology by Randall Malmstrom (wordpress.com) This was a serendipitous discovery for me. Randy Malmstrom's name came up in my newsfeed because I work at Malmstrom AFB, named for Randy's cousin Col. Einar Axel Malmstrom. I found this image particularly interesting because of the red cover on the rocket selector.
  5. This illustration is from AAF 50-5, "Pilot Training Manual For The Thunderbolt P-47" (March 1945). The accompanying description under rockets reads: "When rockets are installed, drop fuel tanks, or bombs may be carried at the same time. The tubes are made of steel or thin plastic material and may be jettisoned either before or after the rockets have been fired. The rockets are about the same size as a 105 mm shell. When you fire six, it's comparable to six rounds delivered by a 105 mm howitzer, a gun that weighs 2 tons. ... You launch the the rocket by pressing the trigger or a button on the stick. The trigger ignites the rocket electrically. A small fire control box in the cockpit enables you to fire the rockets individually or in train, with the projectiles leaving the tubes at intervals of 1/10 of a second. The tubes are bore-sighted with the guns. You can use the gunsight for firing both rockets and machine guns. Carrying rockets has little effect on the flying characteristics of the plane." (I added the bold for emphasis.) This training manual describes the P-47D-25 as the 'new Thunderbolt model' so I think the publication was finalized before the HVAR-carrying P-47D-40 and P-47N-5 became operational. I have not seen rocket operations covered in any other P-47 B/C/D manual including AN 01-65BC-1A "Pilot's Flight Operating Instructions For Army Models P-47D-25, -26, -27, -28, -30 and -35 Airplanes British Model Thunderbolt" (25 January 1945). There is also no indication in AAF 50-5 where the rocket control box was located in the cockpit. This leads me to believe the rocket tubes and fire control box was a depot or field modification, not factory standard. The "competing sim" (the one that has the Bodenplatte expansion and a flyable P-47D-28) mounts this Rocket Fire Control Box under the parking brake handle in its Thunderbolts. This is a very plausible placement in my opinion. In that sim, the long switch on the upper right of the box articulates outward when the rocket tubes are jettisoned. How the competing team came to that conclusion, I do not know. Something worth noting though is that if you look at the cockpit photos of the salvaged P-47D-28 "Dottie May" there is not a rocket control box to be seen. Dottie May flew 90 combat missions before lost in an Austrian lake on May 8, 1945. She was retrieved in 2005 and restored to flying condition. Again, reinforces my belief that the rocket controls were a field modification. This particular control box is not modelled in the DCS Thunderbolt variants. As an aside, consider this 404th Fighter Group P-47D-27RE (42-27221) armed with what is described as three 500 lb. bombs and four 5-inch rockets. Historically the P-47D-30 series introduced the electric bomb release panel located under the parking brake handle that we see in the DCS P-47D-30. The introduction of this box is identified in AN 01-65BC-1A as definitive of the D-30 series. P-47D-30RA 44-32691, according to Bert Kinzey's "P-47 In Detail And Scale," was pulled from operations at what is now Robins AFB and placed directly into storage for the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, Ga. It's as close as we can get to a factory default P-47D-30. It has the electric bomb release panel. Rocket controls are not visible to my eye. This may be because this Thunderbolt was operationally used for gunnery practice. For all intents and purposes I think this is how our P-47D-30 (Early) should be modelled. However, without any indication of where a rocket control box would be placed in the cockpit to fire the bazooka tubes, this becomes a mystery to solve. It appears the DCS D-30 "Early" is actually a hybrid that uses earlier bubble-top Thunderbolt elements (ie, the parking brake handle used prior to D-30 and the hardpoint release handles placed to the left of the pilot's seat used through D-27). My theory is DCS intended to add the rocket control box below the parking brake and make this the P-47 capable of carrying the bazooka tubes in the sim. As for the P-47D-40, I believe its HVAR capability from the factory makes it operationally more similar to the P-47N-5 and later models. The P-47N Pilot's Flight Operating Instructions AN 01-65BD-1 describes the P-47N series' rocket operations and shows equipment similar to what is in the DCS P-47D-40. There is nothing indicating in this PFOI or in the P-47N Training Manual that the HVARs can be jettisoned. There is also no indication that the P-47N was designed to be armed with bazooka tubes as an alternative.
  6. I believe the rocket counter is correct, but that assumption comes with the caveat that I have never seen an operating manual that covers the P-47D-40 series. I do however have a copy of AN 01-65BD-1 "Pilot's Flight Operating Instructions For Army Model P-47N Series Airplane" (15 January 1945, Revised 20 July 1945). The 15 June 1945 revision within states: "Model P-47N-5 airplanes are equipped to carry sixteen H.V.A.R. projectiles. Provisions are made for five to be attached to the under surface of each wing panel and three mounted in brackets which attach to each external tank adapter. The cockpit installation consists of a rocket selector panel with a visible counter and switches mounted beneath the parking brake handle. A safety switch and selector are mounted on the armament selector switch panel to the left of the parking brake handle. The rockets may be fired singly, in pairs or train as selected. The projectiles are are discharged by depressing the electrical release button on top of the control stick." Illustrations in the POI show a rocket control selector very similar to what is in the DCS P-47D-40. We then turn to AAF Manual 51-127-4, "Pilot Training Manual For The Thunderbolt P-47N" (1 September 1945). Pages 58-59 describe the operation of the rockets ("From the P-47N-5 on you can carry 10 rockets under the wings") in similar detail as AN 01-65BD-1. The array for the counter's top line ("Counter Reads") is 1-17 to account for 16 rockets. This can be seen in high detail here: P-47_Pilot_s_Manual_2.pdf (413thfightergroup.com) It is also what is portrayed in the DCS P-47D-40. Something to note from the historic operating manuals is that the counter progresses to the number of the next rocket to be fired. It should not count down to zero. Following the P-47D-30 series production at both Republic plants the Farmingdale, NY plant focused on P-47M and P-47N production while the Evansville, Indiana plant produced the P-47D-40. The two lines were producing notably different aircraft but I'll argue were installing similar equipment, for example the tail warning equipment common to the P-47D-40 and the P-47N series. The D-40 and the N-5 were respectively the first models to be equipped with HVAR capability. (And as far as I can tell, the firing control box for M-10 rocket tubes was a field modification on earlier aircraft and was not factory equipped.) Surviving P-47D-40's don't provide a definitive answer on what was factory equipped, unfortunately. I believe most or all served with foreign air forces before acquired by private collectors and restored and/or civilianized, and I haven't seen any with the rocket selector intact. Take the US Air Force Museum's P-47D-40 S/N 45-49167 for an example: https://media.defense.gov/2015/Aug/05/2001267184/-1/-1/0/150805-F-IO108-005.JPG. I've come to the conclusion that to understand the P-47D-40 you have to use use the POI covering the P-47D-25 through D-35 series AND the P-47N manuals together.
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