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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:19 am 
Senior Master Sergeant
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Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2006 4:15 pm
Posts: 1848
Location: Great Falls Army Air Base, Montana
It all started when found this photograph of a P-47 instrument panel: ... -47-21.jpg

Naturally I was curious as to what variant of Thunderbolt it came out of. After studying the placement and type of instruments and comparing them to my operating manuals and other references, I decided the panel most closely resembles a P-47D-30 panel.

P-47D-25 through D-28 panel, from vintage manual.
P-47D-30 panel, from vintage manual.
P-47D-30 panel (detail).
* Notice that in the photo from the manual, the P-47D-30 has a hand primer to the right. Also, there is not a primer switch next to the Engine Engage switch on the panel. Here, for comparison, is a cockpit photograph of a P-47D-30 that was supposedly taken right off the line and put into storage shortly after the war:Panel. (Again, notice that there is a manual primer and also that there is only the Engage switch on the panel).

My first conclusion is that the first panel I linked is from a P-47D-30 model or later.

Next, I thought the shape of the panel at the top is very interesting; it is higher than than the P-47D-30 panels in the manual and photograph. The specialized shape seems to suggest it was a redesigned panel for factory-installed K-14 gunsights. This leads me to believe that the panel is from a P-47D-40, P-47-M or P-47N variant. My manuals do not have diagrams for the D-40, -M or early -N cockpits, but I do have a reference for the P-47N-5:
P-47N-5 panel, from training manual.
The shape of the N-5's panel up around the gunsight is similar to the mystery panel. Also, notice that there is a primer switch near the starter switch. Finally, notice that there is not a hand primer in the N-5 version:
P-47N-5 cockpit right side, from manual.

From this I deduct that:
1. Thunderbolts that were factory equipped with K-14 gunsights had a higher instrument panel than seen on earlier models; and
2. Thunderbolts with an electric primer switch often didn't have a manual primer handle.

Next, looking at the gages on the mystery panel I decided that it was not from a P-47N-2 or later; these variants were equipped with autopilot controls. I then looked at the fuel gage on the mystery panel and concluded that it isn't from any variant of the P-47N; the gages on the panel aren't able to measure the increased fuel capacity the -N model boasted over previous variants. This narrows the mystery panel to coming from a either a P-47D-40 or a P-47M.

At this point I have exhausted the primary sources available to me. Without having any vintage manuals that cover either the P-47D-40 or P-47M directly, I can only offer photos of cockpits in restoration projects:
1. P-47M left instrument panel.
2. P-47M instrument panel.
3. P-47M control stick.
4. P-47M cockpit, left side.
5. P-47M cockpit, right side.
* Notice, again, that this aircraft has an electric primer switch but lacks a manual primer handle.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, I also found a photo of a P-47D-40 restoration that has both a manual primer handle and an electric primer switch.)

I like Thunderbolts! (Click on "Photos")

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