The Commemorative Air Force’s Airbase Georgia, formerly known as the Dixie Wing, has established an enviable reputation for its aircraft restoration prowess over the past few decades, breathing life back into a number of complex airframes, such as their SBD-5 Dauntless (BuNo.54532) and P-63A Kingcobra (42-68941), during that time. The group is currently in the advanced stages of another restoration, this being Boeing N2S-2 Kaydet Bu.03531, more familiarly known as a ‘Stearman’ due to its design origins. However, this past week saw a significant new project crossing the threshold of Airbase Georgia’s hangar in Peachtree City, Georgia with the arrival of Republic P-47N Thunderbolt 44-89136.
As many readers will know, this aircraft has been with the CAF for more than half a century, although not without incident; the fighter incurred substantial damage following an inflight engine fire in March, 2002. The badly burned airframe sat for a number of years after this incident, awaiting a sponsor with deep pockets to begin its restoration.
After fits and starts, a rebuild began in earnest under the auspices of the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, Texas during 2013. However, by 2016, the airframe was again awaiting reassignment to a new home. Put up for ‘adoption’ in 2018, the CAF’s SoCal Wing won the honor of completing the restoration. Fresh from their triumphant, decades-long resurrection of the world’s sole surviving PBJ-1J Mitchell, it seemed like the P-47 had arrived at the perfect location for her skyward-bound adventures to begin anew. But sometimes priorities change; for whatever reason, the SoCal Wing was not able to devote the necessary resources to their new prize, with little substantive work reportedly taking place during the aircraft’s tenure in Camarillo, California. And this brings us to March of this year, when the CAF announced that the P-47N would move again, this time to Airbase Georgia which, oddly enough, was one of the original sponsorship bidders back in 2018. And so the Thunderbolt made the long, cross-country journey by road to Peachtree City this past week, arriving over the weekend.
Looking nearly complete, structurally speaking at least, there is a lot of work remaining, especially with the aircraft’s systems, before the fighter can head aloft once more. Anyone wishing to support the project should click HERE to do so. We look forwards to bringing regular progress reports as her rebuild continues!
This P-47 arrived too late to see frontline service with the U.S. Army Air Forces, it did have a fairly colorful post-war history south of the border, which we reported on HERE back in 2016… it’s worth another look!