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P47 Thunderbolt

Rolls Royce’s Merlin, which graces the Spitfire and Hurricane has 1100hp. It can safely be said that they’re not exactly lacking in power. But the US approach to horsepower can be summarised as ‘more is more’ .

For the first time we’ve managed to get a P-47 which has, ummm, 2,000 hp. This comes courtesy of a Pratt and Whitney 18 cylinder radial engine subtly named a ‘Double Wasp’.

It is a remarkable aircraft in every way. Capable of being both Fighter and Bomber at the same time, it’s capable of 420 plus mph and can also carry almost it’s own weight again in fuel and munitions. It needed to be able to do so because this brute was renowned for two things, it’s armaments and armour. In the former instance a range of bombs and rockets could be carried along with it’s signature 50mm machine guns, and we do mean guns plural, there were eight of them. So it was deadly and at the same time very well armoured and with great visibility so when they were damaged they also were able to make it home more frequently than most.

It’s been 77 years since Old Buckenham saw a P47. One was based here during the War, used to check formations and also as the personal conveyance of a station commander. We’re delighted to be able to welcome back an example of WWII’s fighter/ bomber brute and, apparently, 2,000hp company vehicle for one very fortunate commander.

Photos courtesy Paul Johnson, Flightline.

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