|Republic P-47 Thunderbolt|
|Role||Multi-role Ground-attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft|
|Upkeep per Minute||-1.72|
|Prereq.||Airborne Company: Air Recon|
|Produced By||None; Called-in from the field.|
|Primary armament||4x M2 Browning Heavy Machine Gun|
|Secondary armament||4x 5-Inch HVAR Rockets|
|Max. Speed||~55 m/s|
Note: The Thunderbolt is not a field unit. It is not selectable, and cannot be given specific orders. It does however interact with the environment, and can be shot down by enemy anti-aircraft units.
By the D-Day invasion, the American Army Air-Force had already been winning the battle for control of the skies over occupied France. Aircraft taking off from air-bases in south-east England were almost unopposed by the German air-arm, the Luftwaffe, enabling them to provide close support for Allied troops on the ground. While strategic bombers were leveling cities deep in Germany, and fast fighters were shooting down the remnants of the German airforce, the P-47 Thunderbolt also called "the jug" was used to destroy enemy targets on the ground in support of actual battles - a tactic called "Aerial Interdiction". The P-47 Thunderbolt was one of the best interdictors of the war, because it was very tough build and could take large amounts of damage.
The American Airborne Company utilizes this fact to its advantage by calling in P-47 Thunderbolts on various support missions, using the Command Abilities granted by the Air Support branch. Each ability calls in a single P-47 Thunderbolt to undertake a specific mission - either an air reconnaissance flight, or a strike with one of the plane's on-board weapons.
Each of these abilities is activated by setting a ground target and a direction. The P-47 Thunderbolt will make a pass from the selected direction, passing over the target point if at all possible.
The first ability to become available is the Air Reconnaissance ability. It costs 50 for each use. When activated, the P-47 Thunderbolt will make a single pass, flying over the designated point by approaching from the selected direction. As it passes, it will temporarily remove the fog-of-war along its flight-path, revealing a 90-meter wide path across the battlefield. In addition to this, the Recon Thunderbolt will reveal any camouflaged enemy unit in a width of 60 meters along its flight-path (not including Mines and other buried explosives).
The first attack-oriented ability is the Strafing Run. For this attack, which costs 150 per use, the P-47 Thunderbolt will use its 8 M2 Browning Heavy Machine Guns. The bullets will strike an area 40 meters long and 10 meters wide, as designated by the player when activating the ability. Although this is nominally the same weapon used on many other American vehicles, this specific variant of the M2 Browning HMG is considerably more deadly, and can easily kill any infantrymen caught inside the targeted area. It can also damage enemy light vehicles - especially Motorcycles and Kettenkrads. Like the Air Reconnaissance mission, the Strafing Run will also reveal a 90-meter-wide band of the Fog-of-War along the plane's flight-path, but will not reveal Camouflaged units.
The final attack type to become available is the Bombing Run. This attack costs 250 per use. As the P-47 Thunderbolt passes over the designated target, it will fire four HVAR rockets, obliterating a 40-meter-long section of the battlefield. Each rocket delivers massive damage in a large radius, and can easily take out both infantry and structures - and will cause massive damage to vehicles and armor on any direct hit. This is one of the most powerful weapons in the game. Once again, like the Air Reconnaissance mission, the Bombing Run will reveal a 90-meter-wide band of the Fog-of-War along the plane's flight-path, but will not reveal Camouflaged units.
P-47 Thunderbolts are vunerable when flying at low altitudes, and can be shot down by enemy anti-aircraft weapons if they have enough time to acquire it and enough luck to hit it as it quickly flies by. A single hit from an 88mm Flak 36 AT/AA will knock the plane out of the sky. A crashing plane will inflict massive damage to any unit or structure it impacts with.
The P-47 Thunderbolt is a heavily-armed machine. It carries 4 rapid-firing M2 Browning Heavy Machine Guns which are significantly more powerful than the ones often found on American vehicles, and has a load of 4 HVAR 5-inch rockets which are absolutely devastating to any target. It will only use one of these weapon sets depending on the type of mission you call it in for. On an Air Reconnaissance mission, the plane uses neither of these weapons - making a "harmless" pass which only reveals territory and camouflaged units.
M2 Browning Heavy Machine Guns Edit
The M2 Browning Heavy Machine Gun is a standard .50 Cal automatic, belt-fed weapon found on many American vehicles. The P-47 Thunderbolt carries 4 of these, but they are actually an incredibly more powerful version of the basic weapon.
Each gun fires a series of about 15-20 bullets in the short period of time when the designated target area is in its firing cone. With all four HMGs firing together, this amounts to about 75 bullets on average striking the 40-meter-long, 10-meter-wide target area within a period of about 1.25 seconds. Note that the bullets are not automatically-targeted: they are simply force-fired at the target area, striking anyone unlucky enough to be inside it at the time (Be prepared; these bullets have been known to blow enemies apart, unrealistically)
Each bullet that hits an infantryman will inflict 25 points of damage. Three bullets are enough to kill an infantryman, and given the density of the strike it's likely that no infantry within the designated area during this strafing run will survive at all. Very light vehicles like the Motorcycle and Kettenkrad receive 37.5 points of damage per hit, again pretty much ensuring their destruction.
Despite their strength against soft targets, the .50 Cal bullets have little effect on armor. Each bullet has only a 35% chance of getting through a Light Armored Car's armor, and will only inflict about 19 points of damage if it gets through - still powerful but possibly not enough to destroy said vehicle. Heavier vehicles have even better resilience against this bullet, and tanks will suffer virtually no damage at all from the attack. Buildings, and even Bunkers, are entirely immune.
5-Inch HVAR Rockets Edit
The 5-Inch HVAR Rocket, or High-Velocity Aircraft Rocket is one of the most powerful weapons available to any unit in the game. The P-47 Thunderbolt carries 4 of these rockets, which it will fire within the area designated when a Bombing Run is called in. The rockets will all land within the 40-meter-long, 10-meter-wide target area, causing massive damage to anything inside it.
Each rocket explodes with a basic damage output of 200 points. The explosion radius is a huge 9 meters, larger than most artillery shells. Targets near the edge of the blast (6-9 meters away) still suffer 150 points of damage!
Infantry caught in the target area are as good as dead - they will not survive this explosion. Buildings will suffer the full force of the blast, making this a terrific weapon for attacking the enemy's base. Unfortunately, Bunkers receive only half the damage.
The best targets for this weapon are enemy vehicles. Nearly all Wehrmacht vehicles will suffer twice as much damage from the rocket (up to 400 points!), destroying any medium vehicle or light tank instantly. Panzer Elite vehicles, for some reason, only receive the normal 200 points of damage, but this is still quite significant. Engine damage is very common too, if a vehicle is not destroyed outright. It is often best to aim the target area so that moving vehicles may get hit by two or more rockets during the attack, though this is tricky to accomplish. If possible though, a single attack run may even take out heavy tanks like the Panther or Tiger.
Note that the rockets are fired at a slightly-arced but mostly horizontal trajectory. As a result, if there are any obstacles between the plane and its target, the rockets may strike that obstacle on their way down. Therefore it is imperative to choose a proper ingress route for the plane which will allow it to drop its rockets straight into the target unobstructed.
Since the P-47 Thunderbolt is not a controllable unit, and only performs individual tasks as they are issued, the tactical use of this unit corresponds exactly to the use of the Airborne Company's Air Support Command Abilities. You can read more about this in the Airborne Company article.
Still, it's important to remember that the use of this unit for attack runs requires precision timing and correct area selection, so lets repeat these points:
- The bounding box shown when the player selects a target and direction for an attack run will almost exactly correspond with the area that will be hit by the plane's weapons. This makes it easier to score direct hits on targets, and easier to avoid friendly-fire.
- Remember that the attack run is not immediate: it takes time for the plane to fly from the edge of the map to its designated target. If the intended targets are moving, you need to "lead" them by anticipating where they'll be when the plane passes overhead. This is similar to artillery bombardments, which also take time to strike their target.
- The orientation of the target box is very important, as it determines the direction from which the plane will arrive. Try to avoid passing over anti-aircraft guns, and make sure there are no obstacles along the flight-path that might block the plane's shots.
- All three P-47 Thunderbolt missions will reveal a 90-meter-wide strip of the Fog-of-War along the plane's flight-path, so remember to examine the revealed area to make extra benefit from the attack run. However, only the Air Reconnaissance mission will reveal camouflaged enemy units (in a 60-meter-wide strip along the flight-path).
The P-47 Thunderbolt is a very weak target compared to other vehicles, having little more Maximum Health than an infantryman. To make matters worse, the Axis factions have some of the best anti-aircraft guns in the game, and may be able to shoot the plane down as it makes its attack.
If you know that your enemy has 88mm Flak 36 AT/AAs on the battlefield, consider destroying these before making any runs with the Thunderbolt. A single shot from this cannon will take down the plane, assuming the AA gun can hit it at all.
Flakvierling 38 20mm AAs and other rapid-firing anti-aircraft guns are easier to avoid due to reduced firing range. Figure out where these emplacements/vehicles are located, and try to direct your planes to make their pass from the opposite side. Remember that if the plane is shot down after it has completed its attack, then you'll have lost nothing (unless it crashes down on your own units...). You only need to keep the plane alive during the ingress route to the target area - after that its survival is irrelevant.
If fired upon by Puma armoured cars, it will sound like an M4 Sherman ("Puma's trying to engage our armor, good luck!").