June/July Dakota Territory Air Museum P-47 Update

This quartering rear view of the P-47 shows the area where the flap will be installed with the skin clecoed in place.


Much of the work this month doesn’t show obvious exterior visual changes in the main airframe. That is because a great deal of effort was expended on systems preparation and installation. In a complex fighter like the P-47, with all its turbo ducting, controls for the engine, turbosupercharger, plumbing, and landing gear hydraulics, the behind the scenes part of the restoration is time consuming.


One of the unusual facets of this restoration is the incorporation of a functional turbosupercharger system. It involves additional effort and resources to make the system functional, but the Dakota Territory Air Museum feels it is worth it.


Mark has been restoring and inspecting the complex components of the landing gear and flap hydraulic system.

Christmas tree tank plumbing

Aaron has completed the final items of the unique Christmas tree tank installation. This was a particularly challenging part of the restoration of 42-27609 because none of the installation is documented on Republic engineering drawings. Field modifications like this normally are not, so Aaron had to follow the way things were done in 1944 by carefully examining and documenting 42-27609’s modified fuselage systems as they were disassembled for inspection.

All the radio and oxygen equipment had been moved as part of this field modification; so finding new locations to install them in places not documented on the Republic drawings was part of the process.


The oxygen tank installation is another non standard part of the restoration because they were moved back to allow space for the Christmas tree tank.


The last major airframe structures to be restored are the control surfaces. Brad has been working on the ailerons.


Cory continued working on producing a set of flaps for the P-47 this month.

Mock Up Engine

A non-airworthy R-2800 is being used as a placeholder with which to install as many of the engine accessories and connections as possible before the rebuilt engine comes in.

The P-47D-22 and 23 Represented the Pinnacle of Razorback Thunderbolt Design

A P-47D-1 with the narrow blade propeller used before the D-22 and D-23 versions. USAAF Photo.
A P-47D-1 with the narrow blade propeller used before the D-22 and D-23 versions. USAAF Photo.

The last two versions of the razorback P-47 were very similar, and they introduced the paddle blade propellers to the Thunderbolt line. They differed from one another primarily in the propeller used and the location where they were manufactured. The P-47D-22 RE was a Farmingdale product, while the -23 was built in Evansville.

The P-47D-22RE used a Hamilton Standard Hydromatic 24E50-65 propeller that was 13 ft 17/8 in diameter. The P-47D-23RA incorporated a Curtiss Electric C542S of 13 ft. 0 inch diameter1 and used either Curtiss paddle blades or AO Smith blades that were even wider.

These props allowed full use of the increased horsepower available with water injection.

Joe Baugher reports “ there was a scant six inches of clearance between blade tips and the ground during take-offs and landings, which must have been hair-raising!”

1 Roger Freeman, Thunderbolt, a Documentary History of the Republic P-47, Charles Scribner’s and Sons, New York, 1978, p119

Curtiss Electric props with the two distinct paddle blade shapes used.
Curtiss Electric props with the two distinct paddle blade shapes used. https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234989098-curtiss-prop-p-47-question/ accessed 8-3-2021

The -22 and -23s both added a jettisonable cockpit canopy. The pilot pulled a ring inside the cockpit, the hood would then be pushed backward, and the slipstream would then finish the job of pulling the canopy free of the aircraft. Other updates included the addition of a bullet-proof windshield, and an increase in the internal fuel capacity.2

Both had better climb by about 400 feet per minute than previous versions of the P-47. The D-22 had very slight performance advantages over the D-23, but they were small enough that the individual airframe differences are more significant.

2 Joe Baugher,Aerofiles  P-47D/G Thunderbolt, http://www.aerofiles.com/JBrepub-p47dg.html, website accessed August 3, 2021

Below is a War Department, Engineering Department report on testing of P-47D-22 42-26167 at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio.



15 July 1944


P-47D AIRPLANE, AAF NO. 42-26167




Preliminary tests were run to clear the airplane for performance with higher powers with and without water injection. Detonation equipment was installed to determine if any flight condition became marginal as to detonation, cooling or improper operation of auxiliary parts. No detonation was observed in level flight up to 65.0″ Hg. without water and 70.0″ with water. No detonation was observed in climb up to 65″ Hg. without water. Detonation occurred at 65.0″ with water in climb but was remedied by using a No. 18 water jet. Cylinder head and carburetor air temperatures remained below the limits in level flight. Excessive cylinder head and carburetor air temperatures were encountered in climbs, limiting the duration of any climb to a point where limits are reached.

The airplane and engine handled well at all altitudes at the higher powers. At 70.0″ Hg., water injection, a maximum speed of 444 MPH was obtained at 23,200 feet. At 65.0″ Hg., with water a high speed of 439 MPH at 25,200 feet and a maximum rate of climb of 3260 ft/min. at 10,000 feet were obtained. At 65.0″ Hg., without water a high speed of 430 MPH at 25,400 feet and a maximum rate of climb of 2850 ft/min. at 12,000 feet were obtained. At 56.0″ Hg. without water a high speed of 418 MPH at 29,600 feet and a maximum rate of climb of 2330 ft/min. at 12,000 feet were obtained. At 52.0″ Hg. without water a high speed of 412 MPH at 31,400 feet and a maximum rate of climb of 2030 ft/min. at 12,000 feet were obtained.

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