Dragon DRW50089 USAAF Republic P-47M Thunderbolt Fighter - Cpt. Witold "Lanny" Lanowski, 61st Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group, RAF Kings Cliffe, England, November 1944 (1:72 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 1:72 scale replica of a P-47M Thunderbolt that was piloted by Cpt. Witold (Lanny) Lanowski of the 61st Fighter Squadron, 56 Fighter Group during November 1944 This P-47M was the first one ever to be built! Evolved as a special high-speed variant of the powerful P-47 Thunderbolt air-fighter series, the P-47M was the fastest US fighter aircraft in WWII. The first P-47M came into service in December 1944, and rushed immediately into the 56th Fighter Group in Europe. Now in stock!
Wingspan: 5 inches
Length: 5 inches
Release Date: December 2007
Historical Account: "Top Dogs" - The 61st Fighter Squadron was constituted as the 61st Pursuit Squadron as part of the 56th Pursuit Group at Savannah, Georgia, on January 15th, 1941. The squadron immediately began training for its wartime missions under III Fighter Command, rapidly transitioning through the P-35, P-36, P-39, and P-40 aircraft. On December 7th, 1941, the 61st stepped up to defend the Southeastern United States from anticipated enemy air attack while it converted to the P-47 aircraft and prepared to deploy overseas. In November 1942, P-47 Thunderbolt dive test pilots achieved 725 mph, faster than the speed of sound.
It was re-designated 61st Fighter Squadron on May 15th, 1942, and deployed to RAF Kings Cliffe (AAF-367), England on January 9th, 1943. It was declared operationally ready two months later and flew its first combat missions on April 13th. The squadron was given fuselage code "HV" and operated from several RAF stations during the war, flying the P-47C Thunderbolt as an VIII Fighter Command bomber-escort unit initially for B-17 Flying Fortresses and beginning in 1944 for B-24 Liberators attacking enemy targets in Occupied Europe. From 1943 to 1945, the 61st produced 19 Aces, the highest of any squadron in Europe, destroying 248 aircraft in the air and 67.5 aircraft on the ground. In 1944, it was recognized as the first fighter squadron in the European theater to score over 100 victories. After the end of the war in Europe, the squadron demobilized in England, and was inactivated as an administrative unit on October 18th, 1945.