Trumpeter 1/32 P-47D Thunderbolt

KIT #: 02262
PRICE: $139.95 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Lee Kolosna
NOTES: Hasegawa Hamilton Standard propeller used, Large Scale Planes decals

HISTORY

Even though it was designed from the beginning as a high-altitude interceptor, Republicís P-47 Thunderbolt really came into its element as a ground attack weapon in the European, Mediterranean, and Pacific theaters of operation during World War II. Armed with eight .50 caliber machine guns and the ability to deliver bombs and rockets, the P-47 became a fearsome instrument in the close air support role. Attacks on the transportation network conducted by the 9th Air Force were instrumental in the successful invasion of the European continent and continued as forces moved eastward into Germany.
The long production run of the D model Thunderbolt can be divided into the initial ďrazorbackĒ versions and then the later ďbubbletopĒ versions beginning with the -25 production block. The bubbletop P-47 was originally going to be referred to as the P-47K, but the War Production Board elected to introduce the cut-down rear spine and blown canopy in the middle of the D manufacturing run instead in order to minimize any disruption to the delivery schedule. Modelers therefore have to differentiate the two types of D models based on their canopy configuration.

THE KIT

For over thirty five years, Revellís kit was the only option in 1/32 scale before Trumpeter finally provided the world with a injection molded alternative.
The classic Revell P-47 has a significant number of shape and detail issues and few will miss it. It appears that Trumpeterís A team worked on this project, bringing to market a very nice and accurate kit that faithfully captures the chunkiness of Republicís workhorse.
A complete engine and internal plumbing all the way back to the turbo-supercharger in the rear fuselage is provided. You can inspect some of it by leaving the clear cowling unpainted, but the center and rear portions of the power train is buried forever inside the fuselage once the halves are glued together. The cockpit is good enough with sufficient detail to satisfy most, although an aftermarket replacement would be an improvement in depicting the overall busyness of the P-47Dís cockpit. Three different propellers, two from Curtiss Electric and one Hamilton Standard are included, and a very nice set of bombs, bazooka launchers, and several drop tanks come with the kit as well. The traditional bugaboo of Trumpeterís kit designers has been the canopy pieces, and fortunately for us they nailed the subtle shape of the razorback Thunderboltís greenhouse and windscreen. The gun bays are detailed with individual machine guns and soft plastic ammo belts. Synthetic rubber tires are provided with no styrene alternative. Photo-etch parts are incorporated for the seat harness, air intake screens, and under-wing strakes.
Still, there are a few minor points to make regarding accuracy:
Most of the above issues are admittedly slight and need to be addressed only if you are so inclined. The modelís overall shape is spot-on and the kit builds up to a very impressive and sufficiently accurate model right out of the box.
CONSTRUCTION

 

The first order of business was to close the gun bay doors, as I prefer my models to be built in a clean configuration. The doors didnít fit too well, being smaller than the surrounding openings, so I had to fill those gaps with CA glue and Mr. Surfacer and then restore the lost rivet detail with a new pounce wheel tool I purchased just for this purpose. The guns themselves were glued inside the wings and the barrels were left off until the final assembly process. Trumpeter provides both smooth blast tubes (correct) and bare ventilated barrels (incorrect) for each gun for reasons that escape me. I drilled out the opening of the blast tubes with a twist drill.
I assembled the cockpit without much drama. The kit photo-etch harness was attached to the seat after annealing it over a candle flame for a few seconds to make it more pliable. I added a canvas boot at the bottom of the control stick using tissue paper and thinned white glue. The kit provides a film for the instruments, so that was glued to the back of the panel and painted white on the rear to make the dials stand out. I added some thin wire out of the back of the instruments as this is visible on the completed model. The overall cockpit color on P-47s is Dull Dark Green, for which I use Polly Scale RAAF Foliage Green as a reasonable match. A dark wash was applied, the raised portions were dry-brushed with a light gray, and paint chipping was added with a silver pencil.
The engine was next. There are a lot of tiny parts to add to the cylinders which makes this a bit more fussy than it really needs to be. I added ignition wires using copper telephone wire. The engine was painted in Testorís Metalizer Steel and a black wash was applied to bring out the detail. The engine crankcase was painted dark gray and the magnetos were painted flat black. The kit instructions have you glue the cowling brackets to the cylinder heads but I found this impossible to achieve, so I snipped off the attachment points and instead glued the front bracket inside the cowling itself. I left out the rear bracket figuring it would never be seen, particularly since I chosen the closed cowl flap option. Slipping the cowling over the engine, I had to sand about an eighth of an inch (2 mm) from the air intake trunk to get a good fit.
I assembled all the internal plumbing from the rear of the engine back to the turbosupercharger, as it is required in order to mount the cockpit tub and the engine in the fuselage. It went together reasonably well, although some of the piping is a little tricky to get aligned properly. I left out the big oil tank as that will never be seen. The fuselage halves were glued together, trapping inside the engine, cockpit, and turbosupercharger plumbing. I used CA glue for this instead of plastic cement as I wanted to eliminate any possibility of ghost seams appearing under the natural metal finish.
The wings and horizontal stabilizers were glued to the fuselage with routine seam filling required. I assembled the control surfaces and attached them to the model. Based on study of period photos, I put the elevators on with a slight downward deflection. The flaps were posed up and the ailerons and rudder were attached in a neutral position. All fit well except for the ailerons, which only nestled snugly into the wing after I snipped off the attachment pegs.
I added brake lines to the landing struts using copper wire. I sanded down a faint mold seam on the rubber tires, otherwise they look quite good. I filled the huge trench between the belly tank stanchions with scrap plastic.
All of the seams were filled with CA glue and an additional coat of Mr. Surfacer 1000. The rivets lost in the seam filling process were replaced with a pounce wheel and the panel lines were re-scribed. The plastic surface was polished to a smooth shine using progressively finer grits of sanding sticks followed Novus Plastic polish #2.

 

COLORS & MARKINGS
I primed the model with Floquil Old Silver, followed by a coat Alclad Aluminum a few days later. P-47s didnít have much individual panel variation, particularly after they weathered for a few months out in the elements. The housing over the turbosupercharger was painted Testors Metalizer Stainless Steel.
The aircraft I wanted to do, ďKansas Tornado IIĒ from the 510th Fighter Squadron, 405th Fighter Group, had a complete set of D-Day stripes for the invasion. As photographed in France in September 1944, the topside stripes had been removed from the fuselage and wings, leaving a faint trace. To replicate this, I masked off the stripes and painted them using full strength paint on the undersides, but used only an exceptionally thin mixture for the top that was misted on as delicately as possible. The anti-glare panel was painted with Polly Scale Olive Drab.
There is a debate among decal artists regarding the cowling color of this aircraft. The Large Scale Planes sheet and profile recommends black, whereas BaracudaCalís Roy Sutherland advises that it should be blue like the distinctive canopy framing. After looking at the black and white (only) photos and consulting Dana Bellís research in Air Force Colors, volume 2, I went with blue. I freely admit that I could be wrong, but it certainly is a prettier color than black. Testors Acryl gloss Dark Blue was used.
The wheel wells were painted Testors Acryl Yellow Zinc Chromate. The main landing gear struts were painted Olive Drab Ė a color seen on a large number of P-47s in the middle period of the war. The tires were sprayed with Polly Scale clear flat to take off the shine aloing with a thin coat of Polly Scale Mud for weathering.
The Large Scale Planes 2007 IPMS Special for P-47s decal sheet is very nice, providing research notes and two sheets of markings: one a traditional sheet of waterslide decals and another sheet of dry transfers supplied by Hobby Decal including stencils and some of the nose art. There is a very small ALPs-printed decal for the Tornado artwork as well. There are no national insignia, so I had to source them from other decal sheets.
The dry transfers were used for the aircraft serial number, mission markings, pilot name, data plate, and airplane name. These transferred to the model fairly well, but the very smallest stencils simply would not come off the backing. I tried burnishing them as hard as I dared without success. Therefore there are no stencils on my model, which is a minor disappointment, because I really wanted to avoid having to apply a clear coat over the natural metal finish, which would diminish the metallic effect very noticeably in this scale. Using decal stencils from the kit sheet would have required that a clear coat to blend them into the surrounding finish, so I chose to leave them off. I did spray clear flat over the national insignia and the squadron codes using masks I cut out from a 3x5 index card.
All panel lines (but not the rivets) got treated with dark gray pastels. Oil stains underneath the belly were added with a thin brownish-black wash. I sprayed a filter of Polly Scale Mud all around the underside of the undercarriage and areas of the aircraft that would have seen the effects of the dust and dirt of forward base operations. Paint chipping along the leading edge of the wings, cowling, and prop blades was done with a silver pencil. Dust abrasion on the back of the blades was added with a feathered spray of Old Silver.

 

FINAL CONSTRUCTION
The landing gear and doors all snapped smartly into place. The wheels were much more temperamental and I spent a lot of time getting them aligned properly. Because of the weight of the model, you have to slightly overcompensate with the camber angle of the wheels because they will settle when you place the model down. The tail wheel strut simply is not robust enough to withstand the modelís weight and bends under the load. Other than replacing it with a metal piece, there is not much that can be done about it.
I stole a Hamilton Standard propeller from a Hasegawa kit and used it on this model. It took a little drilling out of the mounting hole to get it to fit properly, but I think the replacement is worth it. The remaining fiddly bits were added: recognition lights, antenna post (no aerial wire on 8th and 9th Air Force fighters), landing light, pylon anti-sway braces, machine gun blast tubes, and canopy. I painted two 500 pound bombs but didnít add them as I wasnít happy with the yellow stripes (always a troublesome task for me) so they might get added sometime later.

 

CONCLUSIONS
This is a very good kit Ė I dare say one of Trumpeterís best. Like many of their other offerings, it is unnecessarily complicated but the end result is a razorback Thunderbolt in 1/32 that is so superior to the ancient Revell kit that it isnít even worth mentioning. Until Hasegawa gets it act together and releases a razorback variant of their excellent bubbletop kit, the Trumpeter kit does very well on its on. The street price is right around $110, so it is expensive. But I still think you get a reasonable value for your money in this scale with the photo-etch parts, a good-enough cockpit, three different propellers, and lots of stuff to hang under the wings. I would have liked to have seen more accurate decal artwork and plastic alternatives to the rubber wheels, but whatís in the box will satisfy most modelers.

 

REFERENCES
Bell, Dana: Air Force Colors, volume 2
Kinzey, Bert: P-47D Thunderbolt in Detail & Scale, volume 54

 

Lee Kolosna

November 2011

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