Monday, July 13, 2009

Mother, Jugs, and Speed

"The Jug" was the nickname for the P47 fighter ("P" for "Pursuit") in World War II. It was famously rugged, with a "bullet-proof" windscreen and an airframe that could absorb massive amounts of damage. One returned to base after several of its engine's 18 cylinders had been shot out. That, with its heavy armament of eight .50 caliber machine guns made it an ideal ground attack aircraft.

"Speed" it had in spades, especially in a dive. With its great structural integrity and 2000 HP supercharged engine, it was the fastest diving propeller plane of World War II, and possibly of all time - 550 MPH.

Sadly, we don't have a "Mother" for you, but there is a cute young golfer chick in the World War II Army Air Force training video. It's only the first 2-3 minutes, but it seems that the Army thought that their young pilots wouldn't care about the dumb jokes as long as there was Cheesecake.

Oh, and at 11 minutes or so, there's an amazing shot of one of the Jugs doing a donut on the runway.


Anonymous said...

I remember reading a story years ago in a book that I believe was called "P-47" about sone of the premier "Jug" pilots of WWII

I believe the pilot in this story was Francis "Gabby" Gabreski, but I'm not sure. Anyway, the pilot was on his way home after a mission over Germany and his plane was badly damaged. He was having trouble just keeping it flying straight and level, let alone maneuvering.

A German fighter spotted him and swooped down for the kill.

The Jug pilot hunkered down behind the armored seat and waited for the inevitable. He felt and heard shudder after shudder as the machine gun rounds impacted his plane and the back of his armored seat.

After a while, the firing stopped and he looked out to see the German fighter flying along bedside him and the pilot looking over the ravaged P-47 in wonder.

Again the German pilot dropped in behind the Jug and pummeled it with machine gun fire...again the sturdy plane withstood the punishment.

This happened a couple of times when, finally, the German pilot, flying alongside the battered plane, made eye contact with the American pilot, saluted him and flew off...out of ammo.

I remember the book including a picture of the P-47 on it's field after landing and it looked like a cheese grater. You'd swear that there was not a square inch of metal on it that didn't have a bullet hole.

That was one tough airplane.

The barber that my father frequented when I was growing up was a P-51 ace during WWII (6 kills if I remember correctly). I was regaled with stories of combat missions when I was a kid and have always had a soft spot in my heart for WWII era fighters.

The Jug was one of the best.

TOTWTYTR said...

Part of the P47s success was due to it's ability to dive, which was in large part a function of it's enormous weight. Originally, it was thought to be underpowered and the aircorps almost rejected it. However, in testing it met the requirements, so it was accepted and placed into service.

The plane in the video is an earlier version, with the "razorback" profile. The later D versions had a bubble canopy with excellent all around visibility.

A really good documentary on the life of a P47 pilot is here,

This was on PBS about ten years ago. It was in several parts and was excellent.

Brad_in_MA said...


You're 100% correct about "Gabby" Gabreski. He was the highest scoring Jug pilot with 31 kills to his credit. He later went on to fly the F-86 in Korea.

- Brad

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing about this. I read a story of the British - accustomed to tiny cockpits - joking that P-47 pilots could dodge incoming fire by running around the cockpit...

In other news, I wouldn't want to see a ground loop in a narrow-track Navy aircraft.