REPUBLIC THUNDERBOLT, from a painting by John Ficklen. Print is 18 x 24 overall and is signed by the artis and Hub Zemke, Gabby Gabreski, Mike Quirk & Bud Mahurin The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was one of the largest and heaviest fighter aircraft in history to be powered by a single piston engine. It was heavily armed with eight .50-caliber machine guns, four per wing. When fully loaded, the P-47 weighed up to eight tons, and in the fighter-bomber ground-attack roles could carry five-inch rockets or a significant bomb load of 2,500 pounds; it could carry over half the payload of the B-17 bomber on long-range missions (although the B-17 had a far greater range). The P-47, based on the powerful Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine — the same engine used by two very successful U.S. Navy fighters, the Grumman F6F Hellcat and Vought F4U Corsair — was to be very effective as a short-to-medium range escort fighter in high-altitude air-to-air combat and, when unleashed as a fighter-bomber, proved especially adept at ground attack in both the World War II European and Pacific Theaters. Colonel Hubert A. "Hub" Zemke (March 14, 1914 – August 30, 1994) was a career officer in the United States Air Force, a fighter pilot in World War II, and a leading USAAF ace. General Jimmy Doolittle praised Zemke as his "greatest fighter group commander". He commanded the 56th Fighter Group in England, which came to be known as "Zemke's Wolf Pack". Francis Stanley "Gabby" Gabreski (born Franciszek Gabryszewski; January 28, 1919 – January 31, 2002) was the top American fighter ace in Europe during World War II, a jet fighter ace in Korea, and a career officer in the United States Air Force with more than 26 years service, retiring with the rank of colonel. Although best known for his credited destruction of 34½ aircraft in aerial combat and being one of only seven U.S. combat pilots to become an ace in two wars, Gabreski was also one of the Air Force's most accomplished leaders. In addition to commanding two fighter squadrons, Gabreski had six command tours at group or wing level, including one in combat in Korea, totalling over 11 years of command and 15 overall in operational fighter assignments. Colonel Walker Melville Mahurin (December 5, 1918 – May 11, 2010) — known as Bud Mahurin — was a United States Air Force (USAF) officer and aviator. During World War II, while serving in the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), he was a noted flying ace. Mahurin was the first American pilot to become a double ace in the European Theater. He was the only United States Air Force pilot to shoot down enemy planes in both the European and Pacific Theaters and the Korean War.During World War II he was credited with 20.75 aerial victories, making him the sixth-highest American P-47 ace. He was credited with shooting down 3.5 MiG-15s in Korea, giving him a total of 24.25 aircraft destroyed in aerial combat. Michael J. Quirk, a member of the famed 56th Fighter Group, "Wolfpack," became a "double Ace" over Germany.
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