Jugs Over the Sinai; Israeli Thunderbolts
by Chaim Joshen
Photos of Revell Germany P-47 built and photographed by Terry
In late 1948, five P47Ds landed at Ramat David to be put into Israeli
use. The next day, they were joined by a sixth which had encounted minor
mechanical difficulties, forcing it to fly in later. They joined the
First Fighter Squadron which was still flying Avia S-199s at the time.
Over their olive drab, a generic sand color was applied haphazardly
to camouflage the Jugs. In addition, wing mounted rocket tubes were
procured to make the Thunderbolts more valuable ground attack machines.
In less than a month, Egyptian infantry and armored columns were shocked
when they weare strafed and rocketed by two of the ground attack Jugs.
Because of problems procuring spares, however, no more than two Thunderbolts
ever attacked a ground target at the same time.
These ex-Brazilian Air Force P47s were flown from Italy to Switzerland
(ostensibly) to be modified for civil use as fire bombers carrying external
chemical tanks. Instead, they were then flown to Austria (where they
were given another bogus registry), and to Czechoslovakia before they
were able to cross over to Israel. In this way, the pilots flying them
were able to stay one step ahead of any officials who might have been
too curious about the Jugs presence.
there were air to air encounters between these Jugs and other aircraft,
their primary role was ground attack. There has been much speculation
on how well the Israeli Jugs would have fared against Egyptian Spitfire
MkIXs, but they never actually faced each other. The Spitfire would
have had the edge in maneuverability and range of cannons, but the Jug
was faster in a dive or flat out and had heavier (due to rate of fire)
weaponry at closer range. Also, the Jugs had much sturdier construction
than the water-cooled Spit had. Against other competition, the P47s
gave better than received; in one instance a flight of two Thunderbolts
viciously attacked a flight of six Egyptian Macchi C.205 Veltros at
low altitude. Two of the Macchis went down immediately and two others
limped back to their bases. The Israeli Jugs made a single pass and
were gone before the Egyptian pilots knew where the attack was coming