It’s been a rather eventful weekend here in New York City, which included the ditching of a vintage Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter in the Hudson River. The pilot and plane were involved in a photo shoot and practicing for an aerobatic exercise at the Bethpage Air Show on Long Island, NY, when he experienced mechanical problems and forced to set his plane down in the water. While NYPD divers were able to retrieve the plane from the bottom of the river, the pilot, William Gordon, of Key West, FL, wasn’t so fortunate, drowning before he could release the cinches holding him to his seat.
The P-47 Thunderbolt was the heaviest single-engine fighter plane used by Allied forces in World War II, which contributed to its quick sinking. The aircraft first went into service in 1942 with the 56th Fighter Group based on Long Island. The American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport on Long Island was going to honor the plane’s 75th anniversary of coming into service this weekend at the air show. The P-47, known as “Jacky’s Revenge,” was supposed to fly in this weekend’s airshow.
If you collect 1:48 scale military aircraft, then you’ll be happy to learn that photos have finally been released for Hobby Master’s upcoming P-47 Thunderbolt (#HA8401). Replicating a “D” model, complete with the perspex bubble canopy, their first Thunderbolt could likely become their most sought after, largely because of who it belongs to – legendary ace, Francis Gabreski. A member of the 61st Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group, Gabreski destroyed 34.5 aircraft in aerial combat over the ETO and was one of only seven U.S. pilots to become an ace in two wars (World War II and the Korean Conflict). Gabreski’s mount is due to take to the skies some time in June.
Dubbed the Thunderbolt but surreptitiously known as the “Jug” by its pilots, the Republic P-47 formed the backbone of the USAAF in Europe during WWII, serving in both the fighter and fighter-bomber roles. Now, Hobby Master plans to honor the Jug with its first 1:48 scale replica due out this spring. The lead plane in the formation will be none other than Francis Gabreski’s P-47D, when he served with the 56th Fighter Group in June 1944 (#HA8401).