The classic Republic P-47 "Thunderbolt" fighter of World War 2-fame went through many revisions during its time aloft. Born from the company's work on the P-43 "Lancer", the P-47 entered service with the same "razorback" dorsal spine and large nose-mounted air-cooled radial engine. In time, the "Jug" was advanced to include a bubble-style canopy and higher-performance. Some became true thoroughbreds and excelled at interception duties while others performed exceptionally in the ground-attack role. As either a fighter or fighter-bomber, there were few designs of the war that could match the return-of-investment seen in the American P-47, its design attributed to Alexander Kartveli.
During all this, the U.S. Army was always on the lookout for more of everything and, in November of 1942, contacted Republic to engineer a lighter-weight, higher-performing version of its P-47 (entering official service that same month). This new aircraft would fit an uprated engine in the nose that featured additional cooling and water injection for maximum power at altitude. Weight would be saved wherever possible including armament and fuel. An Army contract issued on June 18th, 1943 covered two XP-47J prototypes.
Engineers returned with a revised form of their P-47 which was designated "XP-47J". The design's engine cowling was refined with a smaller frontal area and this tight cover housed the Pratt & Whitney R-2800-57(C) engine within. The engine outputted at 2,800 horsepower and would drive a standard four-bladed propeller unit. Both the engine and propeller unit were off-the-shelf, in-service products which would aid in mass production of the aircraft. For weight savings, the wing mainplanes were revised to a lighter-constructed form and one of the four machine guns in each wing were deleted (as were some of the internal fuel stores which, in turn, reduced operational ranges). Additionally, some cockpit equipment was removed and the dorsal area aft of the cockpit was cut down. A true bubble-style canopy was not in play as of yet - instead a revised version of the basic P-47 framed canopy was added and this did help in improving vision out-of-the-cockpit for the pilot.
The second prototype was to feature a true bubble canopy and perhaps a contra-rotating propeller unit to squeeze even more speed out of the design. However, budget issues curtailed its development and it was cancelled in March of 1944.
A first-flight of the XP-47J prototype was had in November 26th, 1943. It did not go airborne again until March of 1944 at which point it revealed itself to be one of the fastest prop-driven aircraft of the period (and the war for that matter) at 500 miles per hour in level flight. During testing on August 4th, 1944, the aircraft - now fitted with the GE CH-5 turbosupercharger - recorded a maximum speed of 505 miles per hour while flying at over 34,500 feet, the fastest speeds ever for a propeller-driven aircraft. Such capabilities gave the XP-47J the nickname of "Superbolt".
Notably, in USAAF hands during testing, the XP-47J is said to never have been able to exceed speeds beyond 493mph.
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(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
Ability to intercept inbound aerial threats by way of high-performance, typically speed and rate-of-climb.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
33.3 ft (10.15 m)
40.8 ft (12.43 m)
14.2 ft (4.33 m)
9,663 lb (4,383 kg)
16,788 lb (7,615 kg)
+7,125 lb (+3,232 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Republic XP-47J production variant)
1 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-57(C) turbosupercharged air-cooled radial piston engine developing 2,800 horsepower and driving a four-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the Republic XP-47J production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
6 x 0.50 caliber Browning heavy machine guns (three to a wing).
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 0
XP-47J "Superbolt" - Base Project Designation; two prototypes contracted for though only single flyable example was completed.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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