Warbird Digest has just received the January, 2020 report from Chuck Cravens concerning the restoration of the Dakota Territory Air Museum’s P-47D Thunderbolt 42-27609 at AirCorps Aviation in Bemidji, Minnesota. We thought our readers would be very interested to see how the project has progressed since our last article on this important project. So without further ado, here it goes!
Cockpit controls: the lowest controls in the photo are for the aileron, elevator, and rudder trim console. Above that is the landing gear selector and to the right is the throttle quadrant. (photo via AirCorps Aviation
As 2020 begins, the P-47 restoration work continues with systems installation and parts fabrication. The main concentration continues to be the wing assemblies. At this time last year, the fuselage skins were clecoed on for fitting and the wing fixtures were standing empty.
The P-47 was a complex fighter for its time. Systems for controlling the trim, turbosupercharger, intercooler, normal flight controls, and engine are just a few of the challenging parts needed for this restoration.
The black cable in this photo drives the intercooler door indicator mounted on the left side of the cockpit. (photo via AirCorps Aviation
More and more parts of the wing structure are fitted. The gun bays, landing gear actuators, and ammo bays are being assembled for proper fit this month.
The Quest for Range
The early P-47D models had a published range of 640 miles without external fuel.
When the 5th Air Force obtained P-47s, General Kenney went to work increasing the range for the new fighter. Fifth Air Force engineers worked on a design for a large drop tank. The eventual product was a large tank, flat on the top and bottom, that held an additional 200 gallons.
The new 200 gallon tank was built in Brisbane in August 1943 and was fitted with electric booster pumps. Supplementing the 310 gallon internal capacity, it added about 400 miles to the range figure, enabling P-47s to hit Japanese targets that the P-40s could not reach.
And that’s all for this month. We wish to thank AirCorps Aviation, Chuck Cravens (words and images) as well as John LaTourelle (images) for making this report possible! We look forwards to bringing more restoration reports on progress with this rare machine in the coming months.