Dakota Territory Air Museum’s P-47 Update – January, 2020

The Dakota Territory Air Museum's Republic P-47D Thunderbolt is coming along fast at AirCorps Aviation in Bemidji, Minnesota. Check out the latest restoration update by Chuck Cravens! (photo by John LaTourelle)
DDS 729

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 rods on the left center of the image are part of the landing gear uplock linkage, the chains connected to cables make up the aileron trim linkage. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)

The black cable in this photo drives the intercooler door indicator mounted on the left side of the cockpit. (photo via AirCorps Aviation

Wing Structure 

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. 

Christmas tree tank under restoration at AirCorps Aviation (photo by John LaTourelle)
In 1977, 42-27609 was photographed in the yard of a teacherage in Popondetta, Papua/New Guinea. The Christmas tree tank is visible with a large hole through it. Robert Stitt photograph (photo via AirCorps Aviation)

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.

Is the P-47 Thunderbolt your favorite airplane? Make sure to purchase issue #73 of Warbird Digest featuring the beautiful “Dottie Mae”


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