Built as a high altitude interceptor, the Thunderbolt became a legend attacking ground targets in the last year of World War II. Before America’s entry into war, the U.S. Army put out the call for bigger, more complex fighters. Republic’s Thunderbolt had heavy armor, eight guns, and a powerful radial engine. It weighed nearly five tons empty—more than any existing single-engine fighter.
The pilots who flew the dependable P-47 Thunderbolt in combat lovingly called it the “Jug." The P-47’s first assignments were bomber escort, but after D-Day, most P-47s fought close to the ground in the fighter-bomber role, attacking enemy trains, tanks, and troops in front of advancing Allied armies in France and Germany. The Jug was legendary for its ability to absorb terrible battle damage and still make it home.
History of the Artifact
This P-47 was manufactured in Evansville, Indiana, and delivered to the Army on June 27, 1945. After stints in the Army and Air Force’s Air National Guard, the Thunderbolt was transferred to Brazil’s air force in the 1950s. In the 1980s the plane was shipped back to the United States. The Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum bought the P-47 in 1998.
This aircraft is painted in the colors of Seattle native Colonel Ralph C. Jenkins. He commanded the Ninth Air Force’s 510th Fighter Squadron, based initially in England and then France, Belgium, and finally Germany at the end of World War II. Tallahassee Lassie is named after Jenkins’ wife, Tiero, who is from Tallahassee, Florida.
Did you know?
The Thunderbolt was the biggest, heaviest, and most expensive single-engine fighter of World War II.