THE P-47

      During the spring of 1944 The P47 D-25 and D-26 models were
      the first to have the rear fuselage cut down and the fitment of a
      bubble canopy. This change finally dispensed with the 20-
      degree blind spot and the 'bubbletop' became the definitive
      P47 model.

      1944 - SUMMER

      Republic P47-D-28-RA 42-29150 was manufactured at Evansville,
      Indiana during the summer of 1944 under contract AC-24579,
      project number 92833-R. She was one of 1,028 D-28's to be
      manufactured there with the serials 42-28439 to 42-29466.
      (In total both Evansville (RA code) and Farmingdale (RE code)
      produced 1778 D-28 models).

      The D-28 model was fitted with a Pratt and Whitney R-2800-59
      Double Wasp (2000hp/2430hp emergency boost) engine
      connected to a 13ft diameter Curtiss Electric paddle blade
      propeller.

      BOUND FOR DUTY

      '29150 was signed off and became available on 18 September
      1944, being allocated to SOXO. (SOXO was the shipping code
      for the Eighth Air Force). On 19 September it was delivered to
      Air Transport Command who flew her to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
      on the same day. On 21 September she flew onto Newark, New
      Jersey where she was cocooned ready for her trans-Atlantic ship
      journey to the UK, departing New York on 30 September.

      Around mid October, '29150 arrived at Liverpool docks and was
      unloaded. As with hundreds of other US aircraft, '29150 was
      transported to Speke airport (now John Lennon airport),
      Liverpool and re-assembled and air tested by Lockheed
      Overseas Corporation ready for issue to the 8AF. '29150 did not
      end up with the Eighth, but instead was issued to the Ninth.
      Interestingly, but not unusual, the record card for '29150 did
      not carry the new shipping code GLUE of the 9AF.

      On 8 September, two new pilots arrived at the 511FS, 405FG
      of the 9AF at Strip A-8 Picauville, France. These two pilots were
      Lt. Larry Kuhl and Lt. Robert Torbet. (They were probably
      replacements for five pilots who were KIA and one POW who had
      been lost during the last two weeks of August). Five days later
      the 405FG moved en mass from A-8 to their new base at Site
      A-64 St. Dizier, also in France. Both pilots carried out local
      flying before going on their first mission on 3 and 4 October
      respectively.

      On 1 November, a P47D 'Razorback' model (high back); coded
      K4-S 'Little Audrey' of 511FS was relegated to second line duties
      due to the arrival of new bubbletop examples. The code K4-S
      remained unused until mid December 1944, when '29150
      was issued to the 511FS. '29150 arrived on site with lower D-Day
      stripes to the fuselage as well as a black cowling and
      tailplane/fin bands.

      Lt Kuhl, no longer a rookie pilot (17 missions!) had been with the
      511FS for nearly three months and became the guardian of a
      new $83,000 Thunderbolt. Although it was marked up as K4-S,
      Kuhl had no personnel connection with this code as during
      the first three month's, he flew whichever P47 was available.

      THE PAINT

      In addition to the code K4-S of 'C' Flight, '29150 was painted
      with a yellow cowling ring and yellow canopy; the colours of
      511FS (The two other squadrons of 405FG, 509FS carried red
      and 510FS had blue markings to these areas). The letter C was
      also added to the rudder trim. As was often the case with many
      units within the 9AF, the 405FG had no Group colours. Tail
      colours were generally used, but only to identify aircraft within
      each Flight (A Flt – Red, B Flt – White, C Flt – Blue and D Flt –
      Yellow) but for some reason blue did not seem to be applied.
      In December 44, '29150 was painted with yellow bands to her
      fin/rudder and to each tailplane and in early 1945 these were
      changed to red. As '29150 belonging to C Flight, the colours on
      the tailplane remain a mystery. As was often the case, the flights
      were assembled on available aircraft and pilots so flight
      colours were generally ignored.

      THE NAME

      On being assigned the new 'Jug', Kuhl commissioned a ground
      crew member of 511FS to do the artwork. On the port side of
      '29150 he had the name 'Dottie Mae' (his wife at the time) as
      well as some of the obligatory nose art. This was based on the
      December pin-up titled 'Santa's little helper' in the 1945 Vargas
      calendar. Additionally, the pilots' details - Lt. L. A. Kuhl was
      painted below the cockpit whilst on the other side were painted
      the names of the Crew Chief S/Sgt J A Thomas, Assist Crew
      Chief Sgt E A Bergstrom and armourer Sgt L V Hitchman. '29150
      was now armed and ready to take on air support roles
      on behalf of the US 3rd Army amongst others.

      What must be taken into account is that most P47 loses occurred
      from flak rather than air combat. It might have been safer for the
      8AF P47's undertaking escorts in late 1944-45, but the P47's
      of the 9AF still had to contend with heavy and accurate flak
      during ground attack sorties right up until the war's end. Also,
      a high proportion of 8AF P47's loses actually occurred whilst
      undertaking ground strafing on their return from escort duties.
      It was in the nature of the job, that there was a high probability
      that '29150 would be damaged or lost within a matter of weeks.

      On 16 December, '29150 undertook her first combat mission,
      the first of ninety over the next five months. Her primary role was
      air support for the US Army, but on other occasions she hit
      targets of opportunity – airfields, bridges, barges, all types of
      ground vehicle, gun emplacements etc. All involved dive-bombing,
      low level bombing and strafing. '29150 was damaged on three,
      maybe four occasions by flak. It happened to be on an aerial
      demonstration flight on the last day of the war that '29150 was
      finally lost and stricken from US records.