Embracing a Healthy Family: P-47 Thunderbolt Evansville, Indiana Factory: Fun Tid Bits Found When Researching Family Ancestry

P-47 Thunderbolt Evansville, Indiana Factory: Fun Tid Bits Found When Researching Family Ancestry

I've spent some time looking up my family ancestry over the years and a big source of history is from personal accounts. This is often overlooked so make sure you're grabbing those memories from your loved ones! My cousin just told me a memory from her 90 year old father about how our grandfather used to work at the P-47 Thunderbolt Factory in Evansville, Indiana during WWII which is fascinating to me. My father repeatedly told me stories about how vastly intelligent my grandfather was which given his meager education, was pretty remarkable but after homeschooling and seeing the books of yesteryear, those school lessons and books were pretty robust.

The Republic Aviation Corporation factory was located where the old Whirlpool factory was which is now a steel mill. It employed over 5,000 men and women that manufactured 6,242 P-47 Thunderbolts from 1942-1945 which was the principal fighter plane during WWII.

A 1943 advertisement for REPUBLIC AVIATION from Flight & Aircraft Engineer magazine

Republic was originally Seversky Aircraft Company that was founded in 1931 by expatriot Russian Alexander de Seversky. He was also a veteran pilot of WWI. Eventually he was forced out and a new president was brought in as a restructuring occured giving birth to Republic. After demands for warcrafts continued, Republic out expanded their facilities in New York and the Army granted authorization in 1942 to build in Evansville.

The P-47 Thunderbolt would undergo continuous improvements and by 1945, it became the most produced US fighter of the war consisting of 15,660 altogether. It was fierce being able to endure extreme battle damage with a speed that allowed it to become the first American fighter to accompany the Flying Fortress and Liberator bombers on roundtrip flights to Germany.

Evansville Impact

In 1942, Evansville, like many other areas, were impacted by the economy. The new Republic factory was like the modern day Toyota factory of Princeton, Indiana providing feeder business booms such as Chrysler and Sunbeam whic provided steel cartridge jackets. 50 local businesses benefitted from the war contracts catapulting desperate Evansville back into a booming town. They employed women and African Americans as well as the handicapped.

Photo courtesy of Evansville Courier and Press

In case you are ever in the area, Evansville also is home for the only operational LST in WWII configuration afloat in US waters. Stay tuned for the next installation of posts for the LST.

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