The P-47D Thunderbolt is the US fighter-bomber.
The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt made the record books as the heaviest, most expensive fighter powered by a single piston engine ever to see service. When the XP-47B first flew in 1941, lead designer Alexander Kartveli was said to have remarked, "It will be a dinosaur, but it will be a dinosaur with good proportions." The first operational P-47Cs were sent to England in late 1942, taking up bomber-escort duties.
The first US pilots to take the P-47 into combat were the USAAF 4th Fighter Group comprised around a core of veterans from the RAF's Eagle Squadrons. The 4th transferred from RAF-provided Spitfires to the P-47, and thus initially disdained the eight-ton Thunderbolt. RAF pilots joked that their American counterparts could dodge Luftwaffe attacks by running around and hiding in their heavy fighters. The Thunderbolt's great mass did give it dive speeds no German fighter could escape from, although as 4th FG commander Don Blakeslee stated, "It ought to be able to dive. It certainly can't climb." Improved propellers boosted the P-47's climbing abilities, improving its dogfight performance; still, the P-47 was largely replaced by the P-51 Mustang as a bomber escort and primary air superiority fighter during 1944.
However, the Thunderbolt's lethal array of eight 50-caliber MGs, coupled with a high payload capacity and a legendary tolerance for battle damage, found the plane a new niche as a fighter bomber, or Jagdbomber ("Jabo") in German parlance. The P-47s, refitted with bombs and sometimes 5-inch rockets, became the scourge of German ground forces and the source of the panicked cry "Achtung! Jabos!"
The P-47D is a fast, tough aircraft capable of dropping a single 500-pound bomb on a selected target and withstanding a lot of abuse on the way. Once free of its payload, it is a capable air-to-air fighter (although inferior in maneuverability to the Bf 109 and Fw 190) and its eight 50-caliber MGs will chew apart both light ground targets and any aircraft.