March/April Texas Flying Legends’ P-47 Update

Update by Chuck Cravens
The USS Prince William moored at Platypus Channel Eastern breakwater pier, Townsville, Australia. Photo courtesy of Peter Dunn, Australia @ War””

This photo shows the carrier USS Prince William on the very day 42-27609 arrived at Townsville.  It is exciting to have an image that relates to the Texas Flying Legends Museum’s restoration project so specifically.   Our Thunderbolt was on that deck somewhere when the photo was taken! The P-47 pictured could even be our project covered in cosmoline, but without a clear view of the tail number it is impossible to know.

Here is an example of how planes were towed through Townsville from the harbor to the Air Erection Depot. Photo courtesy of Peter Dunn, “Australia @ War”  www.ozatwar.comAs the caption notes, Peter Dunn, of Brisbane, Australia provided these photos. He described how the incoming fighters were transported to the Air Erection Depot for the task of making them airworthy and ready for combat in his e-book, Townsville Air Depot.

The “Aircraft that could be towed by Jeeps from the Townsville Harbour to the Aircraft Erection Depot were towed along Boundary Road, past the National Hotel and then across the Causeway.

Typically when partially assembled aircraft arrived at the Aircraft Erection Depot, engines were cleaned of cosmoline, a brown coloured waxlike rust inhibitor, wings and propellers were attached where needed, bguns and radios were installed, landing gear and engines were checked and the aircraft was fuelled and test flown. The aircraft were then lined up and eventually assigned to an operational squadron. The Aircraft Erection Depot, which was built as Project 1, was later absorbed into Depot No. 2 when it became operational. Construction of Depot No. 2 started in October 1942.”

1. Peter Dunn, Townsville Air Depot
First edition. June 10, 2017.
Copyright © 2017 Peter Dunn. available at:


Download Original PDF

It was great to receive the wartime photos related to our P-47. Meanwhile back on the restoration floor at AirCorps, the fuselage continued to take shape.  This month we will show some of the work on the pilot’s floor and the fuel tank bay structure that it mounts on.

Pilot’s Floor

Fuel Tank Bays

The main internal fuel tank on a P-47D-23 had a capacity of 205 US gallons. That makes the total internal fuel capacity 305 gallons (without drop tanks).

In the Southwest Pacific, some were fitted with a tank behind the cockpit. That field installation was commonly called a “Christmas tree tank” because of its shape. Ours was one of those and the fuel cell is labeled “capacity 42 US Gallons” so, in total, it could have flown with 347 gallons internally.

In a phone interview he graciously granted, Southwest Pacific P-47 pilot Major General DeWitt R. Searles commented on the  Christmas tree tank:

“Yes, I remember the in-theater installation of the fuel tanks behind the pilot to give us a little better range. We were warned to avoid high G maneuvers until the tank was completely empty as the weight of a full tank would upset the aerodynamic balance which could lead to a loss of control. The P-47 was the sturdiest and most stable propeller driven aircraft that I have ever flown. It had an almost unlimited diving speed. I don’t recall a single incident of one breaking up in flight because of aerodynamic stress. And it could absorb more hits by enemy fighters or ground fire, and keep flying, than any other fighter plane that I know of. It’s versatility was not fully exploited until late in the war, in Europe and the Pacific, after enemy fighter strength had been severely reduced or eliminated. Then we found out that we had the most rugged and effective fighter bomber ever built. With eight fifty caliber machine guns and a 2000 pound bomb loads it was unmatched as an air to ground fighter aircraft.”

The next model of the P-47, the D-25, not only had a bubble canopy, but also had additional fuselage fuel tank capacity that brought its internal fuel load up to 370 gallons.

Restoration Specialist Randy Kraft

Randy when he was assembling the horizontal stabilizer framework back in 2016.

I mention the guys working on our projects in photo captions all the time, so I thought it would be a good thing to occasionally include a little more about them.  I think Randy has been in more update photos than anyone, so he was a easy choice for the first shop spotlight.

Randy was born in Bemidji and has spent most of his life here. He has four kids and worked as a carpenter for the twelve years before joining AirCorps Aviation.

Randy’s proven craftsmanship made him a perfect fit for AirCorps.  When he started in 2014, the company was expanding and Randy adapted his skills quickly to the aircraft restoration arena.

Randy says is favorite warbird is the P-51, but the P-47 is growing on him!

About the author

1 Response
  1. Randall Brown

    My wife and I visited from Evansville in 2017 to see it. Glad to see it is coming along nicely! I recently rejoined the Evansville Wartime Museum after our Tarheel Hal came home as a p47 volunteer. I have been sharing things I learned while with Mr. Cravens such as the “Christmas Tree Tank” location on the razorback model flown by Alan Sanderson here (Lady Jane).

Leave a Reply