Ordnance P-47 Thunderbolt in the Pacific

Pacific Paratrooper

WWII painting, P-47 Thunderbolt

The P-47 Thunderbolt was not generally welcomed in the Pacific theatre. It was seen as too clumsy to compete with the very agile Japanese fighters and it did not have the range for operations over the vast expanses of the Pacific. Worse, the P-47 was best at the high altitudes at which American bombers operated over Europe.  However, in Japan most combat occurred below 20,000 feet, where the P-47 was at its least maneuverable.

Despite these problems, General George C. Kenney, commander of the 5th Air Force in the SW Pacific, was determined to acquire as many aircraft as possible for his command.  The Lockheed P-38 Lighting was popular with American pilots in the Pacific, but not available in sufficient numbers.

The U.S. Navy escort carrier USS Barnes (ACV-20) underway in the Pacific Ocean on 1 July 1943, transporting U.S. Army Air Forces Lockheed P-38 Lightning…

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