P-47 in Service In Pacific Theatre with USAAF

Last revised July 5, 1999




This account of the Republic Thunderbolt continues with an account of its service in the Pacific theatre.

The first P-47Ds to arrive in the Pacific theatre entered service with the 348th Fighter Group of the Fifth Air Force in June of 1943. They were initially operated out of Australia and were used on long-range missions to strike at Japanese targets in New Guinea. The 348th was followed by the 35th Group and at the beginning of 1944 by the 58th Group as well as the 35th Squadron of the 8th Group and the 9th FS of the 49th Group.

Soon after Saipan and Guam were taken, the 318th Group and the 508th group of the Seventh Air Force saw action in June 1944, having been the first to take delivery of the P-47N long-range version. They were followed by the Twentieth Air Force on Okinawa readying for the final assault on Japan--the 413th, 414th, and 507th Fighter Groups equipped with P-47Ns. The long-range P-47N began to reach the Pacific in 1945, and operated as a long-range escort for B-29 Superfortress bombers attacking the Japanese mainland from Saipan.

Several other groups were equipped with the Thunderbolt but saw little or no action, either because they were training units or else were formed after the war had ended--the 6th, 14th, 15th, 18th, 21st, 23rd, 51st, 53rd, 83rd, 84th, 85th, 87th, 326th, 327th, 337th, 338th, 370th, 407th, 408th, 479th, and 507th Fighter Groups.

The war in Europe took precedence over the conflict in the Pacific, and it was not until April of 1944 that the first P-47s reached the China-Burma-India (CBI) theatre. They initially equipped the 33rd, 81st and 80th Fighter Groups as well as the 5th and 6th Fighter Command Squadrons of the Tenth and 14th Air Forces.

P-47D and N Thunderbolts reamined in service with the USAF for several years after the war, serving with SAC, TAC, and ADC squadrons. Eventually they reached Air National Guard squadrons, from which, after being redesignated F-47D and F-47N in 1948, they were finally phased out of service in 1955.

Sources:

  1. American Combat Planes, Ray Wagner, Third Enlarged Edition, Doubleday, 1982.

  2. The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion Books, 1987.

  3. War Planes of the Second World War, Fighters, Volume Four, William Green, Doubleday 1964.

  4. United States Military Aircraft since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian, 1989.

  5. The Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, Aircraft in Profile, Edward Shacklady, Doubleday, 1969.

  6. Famous Fighters of the Second World War, Volume I, William Green, 1967.

  7. Thunderbolt: A Documentary History of the Republic P-47, Roger Freeman, Motorbooks, 1992.