Republic P-47D Thunderbolt Nellie G-THUN | Ultimate Fighters

  • STATUS: Airworthy
  • LOCATION: Duxford
  • OWNER: Ultimate Fighters
  • ROLE: Fighter
  • BUILT: 1945
  • LENGTH:  11.0 m/36 ft 1 in
  • WINGSPAN: 12.42 m/40 ft 9 in 40 ft 9 in
  • ENGINE: Pratt & Whitney R-2800-51M1
  • MAXIMUM SPEED:  433mph/697 km/h
  • RANGE: 800 miles/1,300km
  • ARMAMENT: 8 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns (3400 rounds), Up to 2,500 lb (1,134 kg) of bombs, 10 × 5 in (127 mm) unguided rockets

Republic P-47D Thunderbolt Nellie G-THUN was built in 1945 at Republic’s Evansville factory in Indiana and served with the Air Training Command during the last few months of the war before eventual storage at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma with the Air Material Command.

In 1953 she formed part of a group of P47’s who were sold to the Peruvian Air Force, for the nominal  sum of one dollar for each of the 25 aircraft it took from the USA. In the hands of the Peruvians it gave good service until 1967, initially as a front line fighter and then as a fighter trainer. Six Thunderbolts, number 119 among them, were stored in the open at the Piura Air Base until 1969 when, after long and difficult negotiations, aviation historian and enthusiast Ed Jurist was able to recover them, with over 45 tons of spares to the USA.

Each of the aircraft was given a new FAA registration, the TFC machine being allocated N47DD. 2nd December 1971 saw N47DB airborne again, operated by the CAF from Harlingen with 5 other P-47’s. N47DD wore the colours of a 12th Air Force machine, from the 86th Fighter Group, 527th Fighter Squadron, which was based in Italy during the war.

In April of 1975, Ed Jurist sold all his aircraft holdings to restaurateur David Tallichet and all the aircraft were flown to Barstow-Dagget Airport, where they were stored in the open for some time. The collection was effectively split up with the formation of Tallichets Yesterdays Air Force (YAF) with wings of the organization being set up around the country.

N47DD was delivered to the Kansas Wing of the YAF, at Forbes Field in Topeka, in February of 1977. The airframe was stripped to bare metal by a team of volunteers, and the scheme and markings of Col David Schilling from the 56th FG, 62nd FS, were applied with the aircraft forming the star exhibit in the new YAF museum at Forbes field, which opened on July 2nd 1977. Two and a half years later, in January 1980, N47DD was sold by Tallichet to a B-52 pilot from Texas. Robin Collard had just restored and subsequently sold a P-51 Stump Jumper and was looking for a new challenge.

After some preparation, N47DD left Kansas on the 8th February 1980 bound for Del Rio, Texas, making a stop-over in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that night. The following morning, the engine refused to develop sufficient power to take off normally and then failed completely leaving the ferry pilot no option but to force land in a field about half a mile from the end of the runway. Maintaining the Jugs safety record to the full, the pilot suffered only minor injuries. The Thunderbolt was badly damaged. Robin Collard intended to restore the aircraft to flying condition, although in June of 1980 all the parts, the two fuselages and the complete project were sold to Jon Ward. Everything was then shipped out to Truckee-Tahoe airport in Nevada, where the massive rebuild job was started. Four years later, the project was sold on again, this time to Ward’s friend, Jim Kirby who, in turn, parted with it, to the benefit of The Fighter Collection, in late 1984. The aircraft was about 70% complete at this stage.

The aircraft was sent to Steve Hinton’s Fighter Rebuilders in Chino, California. With an overhauled Pratt & Whitney 2800 engine installed and the metal work, systems fit and testing completed, in August 1985 the aircraft flew again for the first time since the crash of February 1980. It appeared at the 1985 Gathering of Warbirds at Medera, CA, USA in the hands of Steve Hinton himself. It was disassembled for shipping to the UK in October the same year and arrived at The Fighter Collection, Duxford on the 22nd of January 1986 as ‘No Guts, No Glory’. Sold to Claire Aviation Inc and shipped to the USA in 01.03.2007. Returned to the UK in 2018 and operated by Fighter Aviation Engineering LTD in a 492nd Fighter Squadron scheme.

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