A Roaring Homecoming

The weather could not stop the P-47 Thunderbolt “Tarheel Hal” from coming home Oct. 17, 2020. It took off from Houston, Texas, traveled four hours to Evansville, and circled the city before landing at its new home, the Evansville Wartime Museum.

One of only four flying P-47 Thunderbolts from World War II, Tarheel Hal has had quite the life — manufactured by Republic Aviation in Evansville during the war years, the P-47 fighters were equipped with a 2,000 horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine and eight .50-inch machine guns. Through its years after the war, the aircraft performed in many air shows, including the United States Air Force Heritage Flight Demonstration Team. Take a flight through time to see the circular journey Tarheel Hal has made!

✪ May 7, 1945 — P-47D-RA-40 finishes on the manufacturing line in Evansville and is accepted by the Army Air Force. It never sees time in the air during WWII.

✪ Aug. 28, 1947 — The P-47 is sold to the Venezuelan Air Force.

✪ 1971 to 1987 — The aircraft goes through various private owners (receives a restoration during its time in France between 1975 and 1987).

✪ Early 1990s — P-47D-RA-40 returns to the U.S. and experiences a restoration to return it to mint condition. The U.S. Air Force provides a propeller, engine, tires, wheels, and instruments for this project. At this stage, the aircraft is painted in the markings of P-47 44-33240 “Tarheel Hal,” a fighter of the 366th Fighter Squadron, 358th Fighter Group based in Toul, France in 1944.

✪ June 1998 — Tarheel Hal is acquired by the Lone Star Flight museum in Galveston, Texas, where it continues to fly in air performances.

✪ Oct. 17, 2020 — Tarheel Hal takes off from Houston, Texas, for its flight back home to Evansville and the Wartime Museum.

Take Flight

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Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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