The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, also known as the “Jug” (Juggernaut?) was the largest single engine fighter of its day, thanks largely to the huge Pratt and Whitney Double banked Radial version of the Wasp. A double wasp containing eighteen cylinders, and the weight of this monster aircraft was 4 tonnes unloaded. Fully armed and loaded, the weight of this aircraft could reach 8 tonnes.
Its designers, immigrants Alexander de Seversky and Alexander Kartveli had escaped from their Russian homelands to avoid the Bolsheviks, and set about designing this “Dinosaur” as they called it, but with good proportions and an all-metal construction except for fabric covered tail control surfaces, and including elliptical wings for good control at high speed. With excellent roll rates, the end result was a very fast (433 mph) aircraft that, with propeller modifications, had a very fast climb rate and could operate very comfortably at 30,000 feet AMSL, and could reach 43,000 feet.
With a range of 1,800 miles with ferry (external) tanks, this aircraft became a very powerful fighter escort for bombers that could be protected all the way to Germany. With the ability to adapt to ground attack roles as well, this very versatile aircraft was invaluable to the war effort.
Not a pretty aircraft and its career was not without problems; but with over 15,686 aircraft built, it established itself in the history books of aviation, and there a few examples still to be found today, 67 years after its debut in 1941. Such is the establishment of a true “Warbird” and A2A Simulations have presented one example in the shape of the P-47D Thunderbolt, "Miss Mary Lou". This aircraft belonged to the United States Army Air Force 218th Fighter Group, 19th Fighter Squadron, and in July 1944, was in the Pacific Theatre of the War.
The drop tank that could have been installed on this simulated model, with an internal capacity of 200 U.S. gallons, was actually constructed of plastic-impregnated laminated paper, and as such, could not store fuel for long periods but was adequate for a single mission. The aircraft could not land with one fitted because it was an extreme hazard in the event of rupture and had to be jettisoned first, which is possible with our simulation, but close inspection of the very detailed tank shows large rows of rivets in place.
I suspect this to be a teardrop-shaped steel fuel tank which is in the belly shackle, not the tub shaped paper type. This is an example of the detail that A2A Simulations have gone to.
Installation and Documentation
The product downloaded easily, and as a zipped up unit, weighed in at 76.3 Mb. This then downloaded to FSX neatly and without incident. My download for review did not include a manual, or any key instructions, so getting started was a combination of previous knowledge, trial and error and pure luck.
Checking the A2A website forums indicated that people had resorted to purchasing manuals from aviation sources and some kind person had typed a basic key guide for the P-47 into the forum. Other than that, I was disappointed not to find any paperwork to read.
The Exterior Model
The aircraft is displayed very nicely with a lot of detail to the exterior, and at the extremely cheap price of this “solo” item, £11.71, or 14.88 Euros, which equates to $18.99 and $AUS 30.98, represents good value for your money; but “solo” is the operative word. There is only one paint job, with none available on the A2A forums either, but I did find one on the Avsim website although it does require some code juggling. So it’s learn to love Miss Mary Lou or forget it.
Actually, I very quickly warmed to Miss Mary Lou, and when you start to notice the worn paintwork, detailed bombs, nicely molded drop tank, and then look at the highly detailed landing gear, including the tail wheel, you realize that this is a very detailed aircraft in every area. I haven’t even got into the cockpit yet, and what a treat that is!!!
This airplane is not pretty, but the big radial engine at the front end is so neat in its design and display. It is cowled by a huge metal construction, blending into very substantial side cowlings and aft to the wing leading edge root, at the underside of which there are exhaust pipes, and you begin to appreciate the design of the “jug”.
It has an attraction which creeps up on you slowly, but embraces you with its charms, leaving you with a feeling of admiration and anticipation of more things to come. Hang on; have you been at the aviation fuel again? This is just a huge amount of metal, ugly in shape, weighs a huge load and has an engine that looks like your worst nightmare, and that’s just on the ground. Can you imagine this pile of junk in the air?
The answer is yes to all of the above, but despite that, and the fact that it is complicated and temperamental, it has the familiar feel of a homely, trusting, loving girlfriend or wife, sexy in a bizarre sort of way if you will. I had to go back to this aircraft every day for three weeks before I could finally park it and leave it for longer than 24 hours.
I am in love with Miss Mary Lou!
Climbing into the cockpit of this monster and lowering myself into the seat, the first thing I notice is the lack of a forward view. Other than a mass of engine cowling ahead of you, my first thought is, this is going to require careful taxiing in order not to run over something ahead of me by accident.
Then I start to look around me, and the wealth of detail comes into view. Focusing on items like the throttle quadrant, for example, gives me total control over throttle, mixture and prop pitch, and even includes an integrated mechanism which controls water injection automatically. This method is used to improve the thrust in the short term by injecting water as a way of increasing the calorific value of the burn, and with a heavy ship it was obviously needed.
Instrumentation is very detailed and works perfectly in every respect. The turbo supercharger even has a light which indicates an over speed, which is fairly important because the turbine of the supercharger could spin at 60,000 rpm, which is fine while the turbine holds together. But if it should fail for some reason and breaks up in the process, the ensuing mess could result in easily making your eyes water, especially as the unit is situated in the fuselage halfway between the cockpit and the tail of the airplane.
Main and auxiliary fuel tanks were also placed underneath the cockpit, and although self sealing in the event of a strike, they could also give you a severe stinging sensation if accidentally ignited by shrapnel or and anti-aircraft burst. The fuel switches are therefore well situated and work accordingly, to give control of all tanks. The jettison switches will allow dumping of the external drop tank, and also the bombs and rockets, if required.
Panels to the left and right of the seat give control switches for radios etc, and on the right hand side of the cockpit, partly obscured by the air diluter and demand ducting for oxygen, is the all important tail wheel lock lever. To state the obvious, this locks the tail wheel in the central position prior to take off, and without which, departure is almost impossible because of the amount of torque from the engine, which wants to turn the aircraft to the left.
Summing up the cockpit and panels then, full marks for the detail, and use of switches which actually gives a result; and extra marks for presentation and finish of the whole roomy “office” which makes for a great experience every time.
The Pratt and Whitney Wasp is just like its name. At high power it sounds just like an angry wasp, and when you get two banks of Wasp in the same place at the same time, you have a swarm of angry wasps. And that’s what this sounds like.
A very nicely modeled engine with a wealth of detail, and big paddle blades that actually feather, so for me, the “sound” team at Shockwave (A2A) have created a very nice authentic sound, and I cannot criticize it at all.
When you have prepared for start up, and hit the start switch, a cloud of smoke emits from the exhaust stack and slowly drifts away in the prop wash. Very authentic, even to the extent that if you just sit idling while the cylinder and oil temperatures pick up, the engine will eventually stop unless you increase the speed to above idling because this engine was prone to plugs oiling up at ground idle, which of course, interferes with the firing pattern due to the loss of a plug tip spark.
All in all, a very satisfying engine model in a very satisfying airframe. It gets my vote!
So, now we get to go flying. That’s after we taxi out with some difficulty, as the nose of this plane is huge and seeing over the top ain’t an option. We have to resort to a gentle weaving from right to left to avoid running anything down.
After running up and getting lined up, it is time to lock the tail wheel before opening up this huge powerful engine. Using rudder to counteract torque, you feel with the elevator to get the nose down to the horizontal before building up enough speed to ease back and start to climb away.
Gear up is a nice steady action, not fast but happening, and advancing the throttle all the way improves the climb no end by injecting water into the engine to increase its calorific burn, thus giving more power, until the water runs out.
Dive speed and high altitude performance is good, but low altitude performance is not so good, although introducing water injection helps during the rate of climb phase, and the turning rate could be better at low altitude, but the elliptical wing helps with roll control somewhat.
At high speed it is exceptionally good at rolling, and the weight of this plane certainly helped in diving on the enemy and passing right through at high speed, leaving some very confused pilots in its wake.
The enemy learned that the P-47 couldn’t climb exceptionally well, and it came as a nasty shock when Curtiss fitted the big paddle prop to improve the climb rate. It is a big airplane, and could sustain a lot of damage and still keep going.
It is quite docile in other aspects. The stall is very easy to detect and counteract, it rolls with a good response overall, and the approach and landing are not difficult to achieve, although its ground handling is difficult due to its size.
A nice big aircraft with lots of attitude. I like it a lot.
Summary / Closing Remarks
Here we have an airplane that is nice to fly once the engine power is mastered. It looks very good in the air and the detail is something to be seen. Therefore, for the price of this add-on, it is a fair buy. Not only is it pleasing to look at and fun to take up to altitude and work out with, it also has a very nice cockpit and all around has to be in my hangar.
Shame about the lack of a manual, or a keyboard guide as to what does what, but it has been fun finding out for myself, and the aircraft has grown on me as a result.
It is a real shame that with all of the P-47’s that graced the skies, only one paint job is presented and no mention of alternatives. I have searched the net, but I bet someone knows where to find some more skins, even a painter maybe, and I know I am going to be told. Please make sure if you do know of others, to tell someone, because this aircraft has a lot of scope to be painted authentically.
For those of you who still favor FS9, and I don’t blame you for that as there are more aircraft and scenery available in that field, without the constant fight to improve frame rates, then the P-47 is identical in every respect as far as I can see, and therefore doesn’t warrant a section of its own.
I did wonder if the P-47 wasn’t another port over to FSX, but it is very detailed in FSX and has added features, so maybe it is designed for both simulators? It certainly works well in both.
What I Like About The P-47D
What I Don't Like About The P-47D
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