Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

Place in history: In 1940, the United States Army Air Corps decided that larger fighters would be needed in the coming European war. Alexander Kartveli, Republic Aviation's chief designer, prepared a rough sketch of a new fighter with the most powerful Pratt & Whitney engine ever developed, along with eight .50-caliber machine guns and heavy armor. World War II pilots considered it to be "unbreakable;" its legendary toughness gave them confidence that they had a good chance of returning home safely even if their plane sustained damage in combat.

This aircraft: Manufactured by Republic Aviation in Evansville, Indiana, and delivered to the USAAF on June 27, 1945. It was placed in storage until March, 1948, when it was assigned to an Air National Guard squadron. FHCAM's Thunderbolt is painted in the colors of the "Tallahassee Lassie," flown by Seattle-born Colonel Ralph C. Jenkins. He led the 510th Fighter Squadron, initially in England and later all the way through Europe to Germany at the end of WWII. Colonel Jenkins may be the pilot who attacked the staff car of Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, wounding the German commander.

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