The Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

The Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

Picture of P47D

"No friend of mine"

    History: The "Jug" (short for Juggernaut) was built in the later part of the war as a multi-purpose fighter. Numerous production difficulties arose in creating this mammoth aircraft, and when it did appear it took some time before tactics evolved to meet its capabilities.

     Weighing almost half as much as some of the bombers it escorted, the P47 was built around the famous Pratt & Whitney R-2800 18 cylinder engine that served in so many U.S. planes. While it was fast, carried ample armament, and was incredibly tough, the Jug was initially met with little enthusiasm. It would be fair to say the RAF hated it - it was dramatically different from most of their designs and didn't fit most engagement tactics of the time.

     Eventually the Jug found a home as the premier ground-attack fighter of the war. It could carry a wide array of weapons and was the terror of retreating armor columns, trains, and the like. With the addition of an external fuel tank P47s could easily range to target and back with their bombers, and several squadrons (notably the famed 56th) rang up impressive air to air success with the plane some thought would never fight against the sleek designs it often countered.

     The Jug is one of several planes contained in a WWII set of playing cards I have that are "spotter cards" showing the planes in profile. These were distributed to G.I.s and such in the war to allow them to learn the planes.

The Thunderbolt in Air Warrior



Take off checklist:

     Simply put, the Jug is a terrible fighter in AW. This often annoys players used to its rather high reputation in real life; and there's considerable debate as to why the AW environment hurts this machine in particular. Many anecdotal accounts don't agree with the AW experience; but it's possible these are reflections of limits in the AW flight model (Shaw postulated for instance that the Jug's much talked about roll ability might be under G-load; in AW fighters can roll the same regardless of current load).

     As a final insult, the P47 in Air Warrior is given a reduced ammo load from its historical capacity, although this will likely be changed in future version. This means that not only is it extra difficult to get in firing position with a Jug, but when you do you'd better make sure your shots count, because you get only a few.

     The only way to fight with the P47 effectively is to use a conservative, boom and zoom type approach. Turning for any period of time is sure death, so speed is required to carry you away from the target before any lumbering maneuvers are attempted. This is not to say that the Jug can't get kills; just that it has a fairly limited number of tactics and those available have to be executed particularly well to succeed.

     It's often useful to use Jugs in pairs or more; the extra numbers provide the advantage required to press the attack consistently against the better fighters of the arena. Thunderbolts draw out fairly predictable reactions from other players - once they see a Jug, groups of enemy will flock to it in search of the easy kill and will often remain unusually fixated when in pursuit. Lone enemies with other things to think about will often completely ignore Jugs, especially co-alt or lower ones, since they don't qualify as a threat. Being aggressive in these situations or exploiting them can result in interesting and hate-filled exchanges, always a worth while pursuit in the AW arena.

     There are almost no "tricks" to flying the Jug. It doesn't spin very easily, but recovery can be an adventure. Multi position flaps are available but can't be deployed until barely above stall speed; they are useful only for going over the top of loops. Leaving flaps down any amount is asking for nasty compression. An amusing tidbit is that dropping gear produces almost unnoticeable difference in performance (except at high speeds of course), rather like dangling a kite out the back of an 18 wheeler. The Jug also happens to be the most difficult to land plane in AW, as getting it down below the required 150IAS leaves the plane hanging on the edge of a stall, and last second attempts at corrections are ignored as it barrels into the runway.

     Whereas historically in AW the Jug was the chosen ride of only a few unusual loners, currently several players use it quite often and with good effect, as they understand and work around its limitations using boom and zoom, wingman, and the element of surprise (a Jug attacked me?) approaches. Jug kills are the result of luck or solid tactics; since few people are blessed with consistent luck, if you can score repeated kills in a Jug you're doing something right.

©1997 Rich "Twist" Lawrence
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