PEACHTREE CITY, GA. (Feb. 6, 2023) – Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Airbase Georgia has received a $100,000 grant from the Ray Foundation specifically for restoration work on the P-47 Thunderbolt currently being rebuilt at its Peachtree City Warbird Museum. The grant follows a successful CAF fundraising campaign in December and January that raised more than $38,000 for the P-47. “The air support provided by the P-47s during the Battle of the Bulge and across Germany no doubt saved the lives of thousands of American GIs, likely including my own father’s,” said Chuck Ahearn, Foundation President. “This is a rare aircraft, and it would be wonderful to see this one back in the skies.” The grant was made in memory of Ahearn’s father, Charles B. Ahearn, a World War II infantryman who served in the 26th Infantry Division, 328th Infantry Regiment.
“This tremendous response to our fundraising efforts will go a long way toward rebuilding this iconic World War II fighter and returning it to flying condition,” said Airbase Leader Joel Perkins. “We envision thousands of hours of volunteer time to complete the P-47, but that work can’t be done without significant funding over the next few years. What we have raised through our CAF campaign and this special grant will significantly advance us toward our objective.”
The Thunderbolt was a highly acclaimed WWII fighter known for its combat effectiveness. It also had a strong presence in the Georgia Air National Guard after the War. The P-47 at Airbase Georgia did not see WWII combat, but it was used effectively in Nicaragua and Guatemala in the 1950s. CAF acquired the aircraft in 1962 and maintained it until 2012 when it was heavily damaged during a takeoff accident, severely burning part of the fuselage and the right wing.