Armour Collection B11E750 USAAF Republic P-47D Thunderbolt Fighter - Paul Douglas, "Arkansas Blitz", 396th Fighter Squadron, 368th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force, June 1944 (1:48 Scale)
"Why should we have a navy at all? There are no enemies for it to fight except apparently the Army Air Force."
- General Carl Spaatz, Commander of the US 8th Army Air Force, after WWII
Nicknamed the "Jug" for its bulky shape, the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was considered a monster of a machine. Despite its size, the Thunderbolt proved to be a fast and maneuverable warbird able to hold its own in combat. In fact, when Allied pilots climbed aboard a P-47, they knew the were in control of a fighting machine with enormous power. More importantly, they knew that if their aircraft was hit but gunfire, they had an excellent chance of making it home.
Pictured here is a 1:48 scale replica of a P-47D Thunderbolt that was flown by Paul Douglas and nicknamed "Arkansas Blitz", which was attached to the 396th Fighter Squadron, 368th Fighter Group. Sold Out!
Wingspan: 10 inches
Length: 8.75 inches
Release Date: February 2008
Historical Account: "Arkansas Blitz" - Flying the P-47 Thunderbolt, Paul Douglas logged a total of 136 missions and 337 combat hours while serving as commander of the 396th Fighter Squadron, vice commander of the 368th Fighter Group, and later with the Thirty-sixth Fighter Group in Belgium, France, and Germany. On two occasions, he shot down three enemy aircraft in one flight. He was recommended for the Medal of Honor and twice received the Distinguished Service Cross, at that time the nation’s second-highest military decoration. Douglas was credited with shooting seven enemy aircraft in the air and destroying twenty-seven enemy planes on the ground.
During the early days of air combat in Europe, Douglas and his pilots in the 368th Fighter Group were credited with developing the tactical strategies that made the newly delivered Republic P-47 Thunderbolt one of the most successful fighter planes of World War II. Traditionally, fighter planes were single-engine, single seat, small, and agile. But because of the Thunderbolt’s space-consuming, supercharged turbo engine system, the weight and size penalized pilots who had trained in the traditional lightweight aircraft. The “Jug,” as many called it because of its shape, was designed as a high-altitude bomber-interceptor rather than a “dogfighter.” It performed well at high altitudes, had an excellent dive performance and great firepower, was incredibly sturdy, could absorb heavy damage, and had outstanding pilot protection. However, because of its weight and size, it made wide turns and had a low zoom capability and low climb rate. Douglas soon discovered that with pilot training accommodating the plane’s high-speed dive performance, the P-47 could be used as an excellent fighter as well as a bomber-interceptor.
Because of the Thunderbolt’s versatility, pilots under Douglas’s command were assigned the unusual task of intercepting German V-1 rockets aimed at England. In the first ten days of the fall 1944 blitz, more than 1,000 V-1 rockets were launched toward England. As they soared over the English Channel at about 5,000 feet, flying at 330 to 380 miles per hour, pilots in Douglas’s Thirty-Sixth Fighter Wing flew in two-plane formations five to ten miles out to sea and used the P-47’s high-speed dive capability to close in to a good attacking range. They destroyed forty-seven percent (494) of the flying bombs with comparative ease during the blitz.