Dakota Territory Air Museum’s P-47 Update – February, 2020

The Dakota Territory Air Museum's P-47D is coming along well at AirCorps Aviation in Bemidji, Minnesota. Check out Chuck Craven's latest update on the rebuild! (photo by Chuck Cravens)
United Fuel Cells

Warbird Digest has just received the February, 2020 report from Chuck Cravens concerning the restoration of the Dakota Territory Air Museum’s P-47D Thunderbolt 42-27609 at AirCorps Aviation in Bemidji, Minnesota. We thought our readers would be very interested to see how the project has progressed since our last article on this important project. So without further ado, here it goes!

Aaron works at system installation in the P-47 cockpit. (photo by Chuck Cravens)


Wing work and fuselage systems installation again took center stage in the restoration effort this month. Much of the fitting of wing parts has been completed and in the coming weeks, the wing will be broken down for internal painting, final riveting, and assembly. 

Fuselage Systems 

Work on installing various systems in the fuselage continues. A few of the areas worked on in the fuselage were hydraulic lines, tail wheel lock system, and the fuel selector.


As wing assembly continues, parts are still under fabrication. Fitting various reinforcement plates related to the gun installation was part of this month’s restoration progress. Skin fitting for the leading edge has also begun.

Wing Gun Installation Parts

Southwest Pacific P-47 Combat Tactic

This month I thought it might be interesting to include some pages from an aerial combat tactics manual published by the Fifth Air Force in August of 1945. Margo Prudente, Major Bill Dunham’s daughter, generously allowed us to scan this official Army Air Force manual. 

The portion of the manual written by Colonel Edwin Doss, Commander of the 35th Fighter Group is reproduced here. 

The 35th Fighter Group was the only Fifth Air Force group flying P-47D-23s in combat before very late August/early September according to what is legible in the 5th Air Force squadron history records. 

That timeline makes it the most probable group for 42-27609’s assignment because this D-23 arrived in Australia on May 8, 1944 and was taken out of service on September 18, 1944. It is one of the earlier Thunderbolts in the first production run of 800 P-47D-23RAs. The first D-23 is serial number 42-27389, making 42-27609 the 221st P-47D-23RA of that production run.

This booklet has been republished (ISBN-10: 1576380645) and also appears to have been used as a source for both Tony Holmes’ Twelve to One’ V Fighter Command Aces of the Pacific and in the book Fighter Combat Tactics in the Southwest Pacific Area by Ray Merriam.

And that’s all for this month. We wish to thank AirCorps Aviation, Chuck Cravens (words and images) as well as John LaTourelle  (images) for making this report possible! We look forwards to bringing more restoration reports on progress with this rare machine in the coming months.

Is the P-47 Thunderbolt your favorite airplane? Make sure to purchase issue #73 of Warbird Digest featuring the beautiful “Dottie Mae”


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