Following a lengthy restoration period by AirCorps Aviation, Republic P-47D-23-RA Thunderbolt serial number 42-27609 took to the skies again on 16 May 2023 in Bemidji, Minnesota. The first flight was a success and was flown by Bernie Vasquez, with Warren Pietsch and Ben Redman flying chase in P-51D Mustang “Miss Kitty III”.
The aircraft belongs to the Dakota Territory Air Museum and will carry the markings of the P-47D Thunderbolt “Bonnie” flown by Major Bill Dunham, commanding officer of the 460th Fighter Squadron in the Philippines in 1944.
The exact history of 42-27609 is unknown, but it is believed it served either with the 35th or the 348th Fighter Group in the South-West Pacific. It was delivered to Australia on 8 May 1944 and was abandonedon Dobodura airfield in Papua New Guinea later that year, on 18 September.
More photos and information available here:
- Projet P-47 42-27609 on AirCorps Aviation’s website
- Photos and video of the first flight on AirCorps Aviation’s blog
We would like to thank Ben Redman and the team at AirCorps Aviation for the photo and footage used to illustrate this article.