Home » The P-47 that survived a strafing run with its wing torn off and its tail damaged by Spitfires

The P-47 that survived a strafing run with its wing torn off and its tail damaged by Spitfires

by Till Daisd
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The P-47 Thunderbolt

One of the most well-known fighter aircraft of the US Army Air Forces (USAAF) during World War II was the P-47, affectionately known as “Jug.” The P-47 started as a lightweight interceptor but evolved into a heavyweight fighter, making its debut on May 6, 1941. The USAAF received the first production aircraft in March 1942, and the Thunderbolt conducted its first combat mission—a sweep over Western Europe—in April 1943.

The P-47 soon established a reputation for its ruggedness, serving as both a low-level fighter bomber and a high-altitude escort fighter. According to Lt. Raymundo da Costa Canário, a Brazilian Air Force P-47 pilot, the Thunderbolt’s air-cooled radial engine and sturdy construction allowed it to withstand severe battle damage and continue flying. Lt. Canário was able to return to base after his Thunderbolt’s right-wing completely sheared off during a strafing run.

Canário, a 20-year-old rookie at the time, took off at 9:00 AM on January 27, 1945, in order to finish a ground mission with the Supermarine Spitfire-flying Mediterranean Allied Air Forces (MAAF). Bombing as many German Tiger I tanks as possible while flying over Northern Italy was the aim, according to an interesting article by Samantha Franco that appeared on War History Online.

That day, visibility was quite poor, but Canário managed to reach his target and finish three attack runs. He took out two in the first, but ground attacks damaged his Thunderbolt. He removed a second tank during the second run, but his fuselage was once again damaged.

P-47 with a wing sheared off

Canário decided to attempt a third attack run because his P-47 was still flying adequately. However, he made a nearly catastrophic error this time. Canário’s right wing was damaged when he collided with the chimney of an industrial factory due to low visibility. The wing was sharply severed, taking out precisely 128 centimeters. By some miracle, his P-47 kept flying. He made a sharp vertical pull to reach a higher altitude and quickly took cover behind patrolling Spitfires.

However, Canário was unable to inform the Spitfire pilots that he was hiding behind them due to the damage to the P-47 that had cut the radio line. Because of this, the pilots of the Spitfire mistook him for an enemy fighter and opened fire. They eventually realized that Canário was an ally and stopped, but not before they had damaged the tail of his P-47.

However, Canário’s successful landing of his damaged P-47 on the Italian allied airport of Pisa served as evidence of the Thunderbolt’s dependability as well as his piloting prowess.

According to Franco, Canário insisted that the aircraft could be fixed even though it was supposed to end up in a scrapyard, and as a result, he flew it on 50 more missions.

Photo by Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

The story of the Brazilian P-47 that safely RTB after it had a wing sheared off against a chimney on a strafing run and its tail damaged by Spitfires that mistook it for a German fighter
Republic P-47 Thunderbolt damaged by German flak during the Second World War. 

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