Warbird Digest has just received the September/October, 2019 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!
Rivet work on the fuselage was essentially finished this month. The team can now focus on the last large remaining components, the wings. Another interesting bit of progress is the elevator control pushrod.
As always, parts inspection, restoration, and fabrication continue.
Fuselage: Control Surface and Engine Control Systems
Much of this month’s restoration focused on engine control systems and linkages to the elevators and rudder.
The Thunderbolt is a complicated airframe. A good example of this is the circuitous route the elevator pushrod takes from the control stick to the elevator itself. It needs to run above all the ducting, the supercharger, and the intercooler; all of which take up most of the space in the lower aft fuselage. The linkage passes through 5 different levers that change the direction of motion.
In comparison, a Mustang has a simple set of cables to control the elevator.
As the last remaining very large component assemblies for the P-47, the wings are getting priority this month. Because there are so many parts in these wings, visual progress isn’t as obvious as it would be with a simpler structure.
Though much of the primary assemblies are well along, or near completion, there are still plenty of parts that must be readied for installation later.
In the June/July update we began listing the missions the 5th Air Force was flying during 42-27609’s combat career. From a publication of the Center for Air Force History, Kit Carter and Robert Mueller’s Combat Chronology 1941- 1945, I found the 5th Air Force’s missions for the dates that our P-47 could have been in combat. The mission list for 42-27609’s active period is long, so I have sectioned the list into three parts.The June/July list was the first installment of three.
This second listing will be the missions flown from July 1st through August 15th, 1944
Note that on 15 June, 1944 the 5th Air Force was incorporated into the Far East Air Force (FEAF). FEAF was formed with jurisdiction over the Fifth and Thirteenth AFs with General Kenney in overall command.
The air attacks on Wewak in July denied the enemy the ability to attack the Allied landing further west along the coast.
Biak under heavy air attack, 1944. (photo via Wikipedia.org)
This period saw sustained air assaults against Japanese bases in the Netherlands, East Indies, and Allied landings on Biak, Noemfoor, and Sansapor. The P-47s provided escort to the A-20s, B-25s, and B-24s, as well as flying ground attack missions during this period.
Included are missions that either definitely included P-47s (by naming the type), or possibly included Thunderbolts because either the acronym FB for fighter bombers or fgtrs (fighters) was used. There were other missions in this busy period that only listed HB (heavy bombers) or MD (light bombers) as participating aircraft. Acronyms, punctuation, abbreviations, and grammatical choices in the listing are those of the original authors. The bolded dates are an addition by me, in the interest of visual clarity.
7/1/44 FEAF B-24’s bomb A/F at Namlea and hit shipping throughout the Amboina-Ceram-Boeroe area. Other B24’s, B-25’s, A-20’s and FBs hit A/F, AA guns, bivouacs, supplies, and Japanese defenses on Noemfoor I in preparation for Allied landings on 2 Jul. A/F at Manokwari is also bombed. Bmrs and ftrs continue to pound Wewak coastal area; many of the strikes are in conjunction with Navy PT boats. A few B-24s on armed rcn bomb tgts on Yap and Peleliu.
7/2/44 FEAF B-24’s, B-25’s, and A-20’s, and FBs, along with naval guns, bombard Kamiri area of Noemfoor I, after which Allied amphibious forces land with little opposition and secure beachhead. Other B-25’s attack barges near Manokwari.
7/3/44 FEAF P-38’s and B-25’s hit personnel and supply areas S of Kamiri and spt invading ground forces as they push E along the N coast of Noemfoor I. Efman I, Manokwari, Biak I are attacked by B-24’s, A-20’s, and ftrs. Wewak coastal area continues under sustained air attack as Allied airplanes pound tgts including forces at Brandi Plantation and supplies and a bridge near But. HBs hit airstrips, AA positions, and T/Os in Yap group, at Woleai, and at Peleliu. Larat and Saumlakki are also bombed.
7/4/44 FEAF A-20’s continue spt of Allied ground forces pushing E and SE from Kamiri A/F area of Noemfoor I and taking Kamiri village and Kornasoren A/F. P-47’s strafe T/Os at nearby Biak I while B-24’s bomb A/F at Efman I. Other aircraft bomb and strafe troops E of Maffin Bay. Personnel areas at But and Dagua and barges at Wewak Pt are also attacked. B-24’s hit shipping and A/Fs in Amboina-Ceram area. B24’s bomb Yap and hit airstrips on Woleai, Sorol, and Peleliu.
7/5/44 FEAF In area around Wewak A-20’s and FBs hit dumps at Dagua and attack barges during 4/5 Jul. B-24’s bomb airstrips and AA guns at Yap and Woleai; Sorol and Paliau I are also hit. Light strikes are flown in spt of troops on Noemfoor I and against barges, A/Fs, and troop concentrations at Efman and Biak Is and at Moemi, Manokwari, and in Wakde area.
Republic P-47D-23-RA Thunderbolt of the 35th Fighter Group, 39th FS and P-38, PTO
7/6/44 FEAF B-25’s, A-20’s, and FBs continue to pound Wewak area, concentrating on troops S of Matapau. B-25’s and FBs sweep N coast of Vogelkop Peninsula and offshore islands, hitting T/Os. Other FBs hit Manokwari area and buildings at Ransiki, Moari, and Oransbari. A/ Fs, gun positions, comm tgts, and supply dumps in area around Babo are hit by B-24’s, A-26’s, A-20’s, and P-38’s. B-24’s bomb town and warehouse area of Yap and a few hit A/F at Woleai.
7/7/44 FEAF B-24’s and A-20’s bomb Moemi and Nabire A/Fs; supply dumps along Wiske R are also attacked. A few FBs and RAAF aircraft attack barges, gun positions, and troops along coast in Wewak area. B24’s bomb Yap, Sorol I radio station, and runway on Woleai
7/8/44 FEAF MBs and FBs hit fuel dumps, barges, villages, and various other tgts at Babo, Fak Fak, Sagan, Kokas, at mouth of Maroe R, along Cape Kariensore, and W of Namber. B-25’s, A-20’s, FBs and a few HBs attack Woleai, hitting barges, gun positions, and comm tgts.
7/9/44 FEAF A-20’s and FBs pound shipping, A/Fs, troops, and other tgts at Babo, Manokwari, Efman, Biak and various points along coastline of Geelvink Bay. B-25’s and FBs sink a 3,000-ton vessel and several barges around Halmahera I. Dumps at Marubian, Kairiru, and Niap and bridge at But are bombed by B-25’s, A-20’s, and FBs. B-24’s bomb Namlea A/F and attack Yap and Woleai.
A P-47, probably a D-23, didn’t make it back to Noemfoor. (USAAF Photo)
7/10/44 FEAF B-24’s attack Laha, Namlea, and T/Os in Boeroe-Ceram-Amboina area. A-20’s, FBs, and a B-25 hit troops, villages, and barges in Wewak area. B-24’s bomb A/Fs and town areas at Yap, Gagil-Tomil I and Sorol. Operations also include smallscale strikes in Wakde area and snooper and armed rcn missions over the Carolines.
7/11/44 FEAF B-24’s pound A/F at Babo while A-20’s hit supply dumps at Kokas. B-25’s bomb A/Fs at Manokwari, Waren, and Moemi during the night. A-20’s, MBs, and FBs spt ground forces in Sarmi-Sawar area and bomb A/Fs, shipping, and various occupied areas and installations on Halmahera, in Schouten Is, on Boeroe, and the Palau group, and at Woleai.
7/12/44 FEAF B-24’s hit Manokwari A/F; weather curtails further operations in Geelvink Bay area. A-20’s, MBs, and FBs again hit troop concentrations and barges in Wewak area. Smaller strikes by B-24’s and B-25’s are flown against A/F at Laha, Dili, and on Koer I. B-24’s pounds Yap.
7/13/44 FEAF B-24’s again bomb Yap and Sorol. B-24’s, B-25’s, and A-20’s bomb gun positions and A/F at Babo and in Manokwari area and hit supply depot at Kokas. FBs spt Allied ground forces in Aitape area while A-20’s and FBs pound occupied areas and gun positions in Wewak area and on Mushu I. B-24’s also hit Amahai A/F.
7/14/44 FEAF B-24’s continue to blast Yap. Oil reservoirs and wells at Boela are bombed and strafed by A-20’s. B24’s and B-25’s attack barge facilities and gun positions at Lautem. On Vogelkop Peninsula night ftrs hit A/Fs while B-25’s bomb barge terminal at Kokas. A-20’s hit Japanese forces at Sauri and bomb A/F at But. FBs spt ground forces in Aitape area along Driniumor R and Koronal Creek and blast troop concentrations near Afua.
7/15/44 FEAF B-24’s blast Yap, scoring numerous hits in Yap town area and on radio station and barracks area. B24’s, penetrating heavy weather front, bomb A/F at Efman while B-25’s hit enemy forces along Korrido Anchorage, and A-20’s blast gun emplacements on island off Manokwari. B-25’s, A-20’s, and FBs again pound troop concentrations over wide area around Wewak.
B-24 over Yap Island. (USAAF Photo)
7/16/44 FEAF B-24’s continue bombing Yap. Other B-24’s pound AA positions at Manokwari. FBs bomb supply dumps N of Moemi and attack shipping in Kokas-Babo area. Bmrs and ftrs again hit troop and supply concentrations in Wewak sector. B-24’s hit Atamboea A/F. TC missions to forward bases, especially Biak, increase.
7/18/44 FEAF B-24’s strike Yap, bombing town and Blelatsch peninsula; several of the HBs bomb Sorol I. Bad weather prevents strikes on Vogelkop Peninsula. FBs continue to hit barges, supply routes, and troop concentrations in coastal area from Aitape to Wewak.
7/19/44 FEAF B-24’s, striking in 2 waves, attack A/F on Yap. Several of the B-24’s become separated from the formations and bomb Ngulu and Sorol Is. Weather again cancels strikes on Vogelkop Peninsula area. FB’s hit stores, gun positions, and T/Os along Dandriwad R and spt Allied ground forces in SarmiSawar sector.
7/20/44 FEAF B-24’s bomb W part of Yap town. Other B-24’s hit A/F and AA guns at Manokwari and AA at Moemi. B25’s hit shipping off Sorong, in Kaiboes Bay, and off Misool I, and bomb Kasim I. A-20’s spt Allied ground forces in Sarmi sector. B-24’s bomb Namlea A/F and shipping in Kayeli Bay. B-25’s hit shipping at Dili. A-20’s and a B-25 bomb supply dumps at Cape Moem, Wom, and Sauri while FBs hit T/Os along Yakamul coastal road and troops on Kairiru I.
7/21/44 FEAF B-24’s again pound Yap I, concentrating on the A/F. Ftrs, many dropping phosphorus bombs on the HB formation, attack fiercely but ineffectively; the B-24’s claim 7 ftrs shot down. Other B-24’s bomb AA positions and A/F at Manokwari. A-20’s hit barracks at Nabire. P-39’s hit caves and barge hideouts on N coast of Biak I and spt ground forces along Verkam R. B-25’s hit shipping at several points around the long coastline of Vogelkop Peninsula. B-25s and A-20’s pound But, and P-39’s bomb bridge nearby. P-47’s follow with attack on But and also hit Wewak jetties and Kairiru I.
7/22/44 FEAF B-24’s again attack A/F on Yap. B-24’s, B-25’s, A-20’s, and an assortment of FBs direct their main attacks against several shipping terminals in the Vogelkop Peninsula area, sink sub chaser off Morotai, bomb Saumlakki, and hit But A/F and personnel areas, barge hideouts, supply and ammo dumps, bridges and roads at, and to the W of, Wewak.
Severe bomb damage from a B-24 attack on Yap airfield. (USAAF Photo)
7/23/44 FEAF B-24’s again bomb Yap I, hitting town area and A/F. A/Fs and shipping terminals over widespread areas of Vogelkop Peninsula and nearby islands are pounded by B-24’s, B-25’s, A-20’s, and FBs. But A/F is again the main tgt in NE New Guinea. Comm, supplies, barges, and troop concentrations from Wewak to Yakamul are also bombed and strafed throughout the day.
7/24/44 FEAF Operations in the Caroline Is are restricted to snooper strikes by HBs. Bad weather cancels scheduled strikes in Vogelkop Peninsula area. B-24’s bomb AA positions at Saumlakki. 18 A-20’s and a B-25 bomb But A/F, P-47’s hit supply areas at Sauri, and P-39’s bomb and strafe bridges and supply dumps in Suain area.
7/26/44 FEAF B-24’s again hit supply areas, comm, and other tgts on Woleai. Other B-24’s bomb A/Fs at Babo and Ransiki. A-20’s and B-25’s, along with RAAF FBs, hit troop concentrations, small shipping, mortar positions, shore guns, and other T/Os along Hollandia-Aitape- Wewak coastline. B-25’s bomb Langgoer.
7/27/44 FEAF B-24’s hit A/F on Woleai and supply areas on Mariaon and Tagaulap Is. Other B-24’s bomb A/ Fs at Lolobata and Miti while B-25’s hit Galela A/F. B-24’s and B-25’s bomb shipping and air facilities at Ransiki, Moemi, and Babo, hit freighter in Kaiboes Bay, and bomb AA positions at Kokas, while A-20’s blast fuel dumps at Nabire. P-39’s strafe concentrations and small vessels along W coast of Geelvink Bay. A-20’s, B-25’s, and FBs hit troop concentrations, supply dumps, gun positions, barges, and a variety of other tgts along coast from Aitape to Wewak to Cape Moem. B-24’s bomb Laha, Namlea, Cape Chater, and Dili.
7/28/44 FEAF Tgts in Woleai I are bombed by 4 sqs of B-24’s; A/F and supply area are well covered. B-24’s and A20’s pound A/Fs at Manokwari and Babo, bivouac areas at Kasoeri, and shipping in Kaimana Bay. P39’s hit Windissi and other Geelvink Bay villages. A-20’s and FBs blast stores, troop concentrations, comm tgts, barges, and T/Os in Wewak, Cape Moem, and But areas. Laha and Cape Chater are hit by B-24’s while B-25’s bomb supply dumps at Maumere.
7/29/44 FEAF B-24’s bomb supply areas on Woleai I; nearby islands of Mariaon and Tagaulap are also hit. Other B24’s bomb A/Fs at Boela, Namlea, and Cape Chater, and pound Moemi, Sagan, Otawiri, and Urarom. MBs hit oil tgts at Karaka, shipping off Sorong and Cape Fatagar, and a supply village W of Babo. P39’s bomb Windissi and strafe troop concentrations along W shore of Geelvink Bay for third consecutive day. In NE New Guinea bmrs and ftrs continue pounding the N coast, hitting troops, bridges and stores at Wewak and along Harech Creek, and T/Os in Yakamul area.
7/30/44 FEAF Supply area on Woleai I is again bombed by B-24’s. Other B-24’s and P-38’s attack A/F and oil installations at Boela while more P-38’s attack shipping off E Ceram, off Amboina, and near Talaga. B-25’s hit A/ Fs at Penfoei and Koepang. B-24’s hit Morotai I. P-39’s spt Allied ground forces on Biak I and continue to patrol W Geelvink Bay, hitting barges in Bentoni Bay and troops at Idorra. Allied forces (TF TYPHOON) land on N coast of Vogelkop Peninsula near Mar. The landings, made without preparatory bombardment to achieve surprise, meet no opposition. Bmrs and ftrs continue to pound troop concentrations, barges, ships, fuel dumps, comm and other tgts between Wewak and Aitape.
7/31/44 FEAF B-24’s again strike Woleai. A/Fs at Lolobata and Galela also are hit by B-24’s. P-39’s continue to hit villages on W coast of Geelvink Bay. In NE New Guinea FBs continue pounding Japanese concentrations and T/Os on N coast, particularly between Wewak and Yakamul. A-20’s spt Australian ground forces in Hansa Bay area, hitting troop positions W of Sepik R and troop concentrations at Singarin and Kopa.
B-25 skip bombing. (Photo via National Archives)
8/2/44 FEAF B-24’s bomb A/F at Yap I. A-20’s bomb Nabire A/F while in Wewak area bmrs and ftrs hit bridge and A/F at Boram and bridges, comm lines, troop concentrations, and other tgts along coastline, especially between But and Cape Karawop. MBs and HBs carry out wide sweeps over the Moluccas and Lesser Sunda Is, hitting A/Fs at Maumere, Amahai, and Liang, and shipping off Ceram and Amboina. HBs hit Cape Chater and Lautem while MBs bomb camp near Poeloeti. FBs hit Mapia I and coastal vessels and shore tgts at Talaud.
8/3/44 FEAF B-24’s bomb Yap and islands in Woleai group. Bad weather cancels scheduled strikes over Vogelkop Peninsula area, However, MBs hit troop concentrations at Bira and other points on MacCluer Gulf, bomb Urarom, and spt Allied ground forces on Biak by hitting troops in Korim Bay area. An ammo dump and oil derrick at Boela are also destroyed. Supply dumps, comm tgts, and bridges are hit as FBs and A-20’s continue to blast areas around But, Dagua, and Wewak.
8/6/44 FEAF Yap supply area is bombed by B-24’s. Heavy frontal weather activity over Vogelkop Peninsula and the Moluccas cancels strikes in that area. On the mainland of New Guinea, MBs and ftrs, though restricted by weather, spt ground operations near Sarmi, hit gun positions at Dagua, and strafe fuel dumps and T/Os at Cape Djeruen.
8/8/44 FEAF B-24’s bomb Yap and GagilTomil Is, concentrating on airstrips, A/Fs at Galela, Lolobata, and Babo, and towns of Urarom and Manokwari. A-20’s bomb radio station near Hollandia and hit troop concentrations in Musu area. FBs bomb bridges and buildings at Boram, troops at But, and guns at Dagua.
8/9/44 FEAF B-24’s blast AA positions in 3 different areas of Yap I. Other B-24’s bomb A/Fs at Boela and at Liang. A-20’s hit shipping facilities at Asap I and bomb Nabire A/F. Ftrs strafe villages S of Manokwari. B-25’s bomb forces on N coast of Waigeo I. A-20’s and FBs hit troops at Dagua and near Haur and bomb stores at Cape Moem and machineguns at Cape Wom.
8/10/44 FEAF B-24’s attack Yap, concentrating on AA positions, A/Fs and town of Yap. Others hit A/Fs at Galela, Lolobata and Namlea. B-25’s bomb Langgoer A/F. FBs attack Sorong, Manokwari, and villages along W coast of Geelvink Bay. FBs continue to pound forces between Aitape and Wewak. Large-scale TC missions are flown to forward bases, especially in Schouten Is.
8/12/44 FEAF FEAF long-range rcn is greatly increased thanks to strategic position of newly acquired Schouten Is bases. B-24’s pound A/F at Babo while B-25’s and P-39’s hit Nabire A/F. Other P-39’s attack defenses at Mansinam I and shore concentrations along W Geelvink Bay. P-47’s spt ground operations in area of Sansapor Pt by bombing Dore. A-20’s and P-47’s hit forces and T/ Os in Sarmi area and along Metimedan R. A-20’s and P-39’s attack troops at Haur, coastal tgts in cooperation with PT boats, and fuel dumps at Boram.
8/13/44 FEAF Bad weather in SWPA curtails operations. B-24’s bomb bivouacs and supply dumps at Manokwari. Bmrs hit Cape Wom storage area while P-39’s cooperate with PT boats to hit Dagua personnel areas and Suain coastal positions. P-47’s and P-39’s hit Cape Wom, troops at Ulban, Matapau, and Suain, and spt ground forces at Sarmi. TC aircraft complete nearly 90 missions to Owi I and other forward bases.
US B-25J of 499th ‘Bats Outta Hell’ Bomb Squadron attacking Japanese Type-C Escort Vessel. (Photo via National Archives)
8/14/44 FEAF B-25’s and B-24’s attack Ternate I, AA positions, oil dumps, barracks, supply areas, and other tgts throughout the Halmaheras. B-24’s pound A/F at Babo while A-20’s and FBs, along with RAAF airplanes, blasting bivouac, and troops at Terabu, Kaiten, and Wewak Pt.
8/15/44 FEAF B-24’s bomb Lolobata A/F and B-25’s attack shipping in Ternate area, setting a 1,200-ton vessel afire and damaging several luggers and barges. P-39’s dive-bomb AA positions at Wewak Pt. FEAF aircraft on armed rcn hit T/Os in Ceram area and Tanimbar Is.
And that’s all for this month. We wish to thank AirCorps Aviation, Chuck Cravens (words and images) as well as John LaTourelle and Aaron Prince (images) for making this report possible! We look forwards to bringing more restoration reports on progress with this rare machine in the coming months.