Discovery Channel-Great Planes: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt (1989)

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Released 10-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 58:23
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By None Given
Discovery Channel
Magna Home Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Flushed with the enjoyment and discovery of Great Planes: McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom, I once again return to investigate a title from the Great Planes series, released under the Discovery Channel banner. This time I investigate a combat aircraft from the Second World War, the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.

    Whilst most of the attention on Second World War combat aircraft focuses upon the classic fighters like the Supermarine Spitfire and the North American P-51 Mustang, there were plenty of other aircraft that did their job and did it well. By the end of the conflict, as important as the roles of the likes of the Spitfire and the Mustang were to the eventually allied victory, it was this antithesis of a fighter aircraft that stood tall. In the eyes of the world, the Spitfire and the Mustang epitomised the classic fighter aircraft of the war: sleek, fast, lightweight, highly manoeuvrable and utterly devastating as fighter aircraft. So where does the ugly, bulky, heavyweight P-47 Thunderbolt fall in the scheme of things? Going by the nickname of the Jug - and no, I have never understood the reference to the milk jug either - by the end of the war this aircraft had been built in greater numbers than any other American fighter aircraft. It had served in just about every theatre of the war and had served in a multitude of roles. It had garnered a reputation as an almost indestructible aircraft that could absorb horrendous punishment and still get the job done.

    Whilst the classic fighters like the Spitfire and the Mustang were relatively fragile aircraft as a result of the cooling system for their engines, the radial-engined Thunderbolt was not afflicted with this fragility. It was big but it was built like a tank around that huge radial engine and it could as a result outrun many a fighter aircraft. Whilst the nimble fighter aircraft of the Luftwaffe, mainly the Messerschmitt Me-109, could outmanoeuvre the Thunderbolt and made its role as a pure fighter a difficult one, the brass soon found plenty of reasons for deploying the Thunderbolt. Assigned the strategic role of fighter support for the bomber formations heading over Europe to bomb Germany, it was soon realised that with its ability to absorb damage and uplift far more ordinance than most fighter aircraft, the Thunderbolt was born for a tactical role. And so was born the role for which it was best known - ground attack, inflicting heavy damage almost at will upon Nazi Germany and contributing quite significantly to the destruction of the ability of the Third Reich to wage war. It served too in the Pacific Theatre and was famously involved in the battle for the Marianas, when Thunderbolts were loaded upon transport carriers at Pearl Harbour and were offloaded at Saipan within days of the American assault on the island. The aircraft immediately began operations attacking ground targets in support of American ground forces and contributed mightily to the destruction of the Japanese war effort.

    Well designed and well liked by the maintenance crews because of it, the Thunderbolt could do just about anything and do it well. By the end of the war the aircraft had flown over 545,000 sorties and had been responsible for the destruction of over 7,000 enemy aircraft. Its production run lasted just over four and a half years, and when the last plane came off the assembly line in December, 1945 the tally built stood at 15,683. It is doubtful that any other American combat aircraft will ever approach that number of aircraft produced.

    Whilst I have never seen one of these aircraft in the air, there are a few still flying around the world. By whatever measure you apply, the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt is a Great Plane and one that is unlikely to ever be surpassed in the annals of American airpower.

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Transfer Quality


    With the aircraft being a Second World War combat aircraft, and having already watched Great Planes: McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom, I have to confess that my thoughts for what I would find in this transfer were not good. The end result, whilst certainly with faults, was better than I was anticipating and the overall program was quite interesting. Whilst I have to confess to having seen loads of footage of the P-47 Thunderbolt, and therefore to see some of that footage in the program was not unexpected, there certainly remained some stuff here that was new to me. Combined with a good narration, the overall program was quite good all things considered.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and it is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer, which understandably is comprised of archival footage throughout, is somewhat variable. Some was as average as I would expect for near sixty year old stuff, while other bits were surprisingly good even by modern standards. Definition is okay in general, although some of the in-flight footage is a tad variable. Detail is pretty good in general, although some footage is not too well contrasted. Shadow detail is not much of an issue. The clarity is decent, with grain an issue at times. There does not appear to be any problem with low level noise.

    Comprising mixed footage, the colour palette is all over the place: some quite good for its age, other stuff being quite poor. This is not a great issue however as this is aged material and unlike films, hardly likely to have had great attention in the archiving process. There is no real solidity or depth to the colours.

    While there are a couple of instances of loss of resolution during the program, I am almost certain that this is source material related and not the result of introduced MPEG artefacting in the transfer. The source material is in general quite badly affected by film artefacts of just about every kind. The archival nature of the material though does mitigate this profusion of artefacts. It should be pointed out though that some of the material is relatively free from problems in this regard. There is some rather nasty looking aliasing in the end credits, otherwise there are no really obvious film-to-video artefacts.

    This is a single sided, single layer DVD. There are no subtitle options to accompany the narration.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, being an Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

    The narration comes across very well and there are no problems understanding it. Some of the aircraft noise appears to be looped, but this was not really too much of an issue.

    The small amount of musical accompaniment is again not credited, although this time it does an adequate enough job of supporting the program.

    There is nothing really wrong with the soundtrack, which again does enough to carry the narration and little else. It is reasonable clean and clear, but sorely lacking the underlying aircraft dynamic. This is very similar in style to the previous DVD reviewed from the series.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Nothing whatsoever apart from some menu audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    It would appear that this DVD has not yet been released in Region 1 - although this is by no means certain.


    Great Planes: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt is an interesting look at one of the classic aircraft of the Second World War. While obviously the plane deserves about four or five more hours of attention, within the limitations of an hour long documentary, this was quite informative. The source material at times was better than I was expecting and overall if the subject matter is to your interest, this might well be worth checking out.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Meaning of Nickname "Jug" - Anonymous REPLY POSTED