Hasegawa 1/32 P-47D Thunderbolt

KIT #:



$65.00 MSRP


Three options


Blair Stewart






The P-47, AKA “the jug,” was the brainchild of Alexander Kartveli, Republic Aviation’s chief engineer. In 1940, Republic was building the P-43 Lancer and was planning on building a lightweight fighter. But given the prevailing air combat experiences in Europe, the US Army Air Corps decided that a larger and better aircraft would be required, should the United States become engaged in the war.  Kartveli, operating on this USAAC concern, sketched out a new fighter. It employed the new Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine, a 2000 HP radial engine with eighteen cylinders in two rows. For firepower, Kartveli included 8 .50cal machine guns in the wings and sufficient armor plating to protect the pilot from virtually every attack angle. The total weight of the new design was about 10,000 pounds, which was more than any existing single engine fighter (for example, the P-40 weighed in at 6,350 lbs. empty, and an A-20 twin engine bomber weighed 15,051 lbs. empty).

A major engineering problem with the new engine was designing a supercharger duct system that would provide the proper airflow. Kartveli purportedly designed the duct system first and then designed the aircraft’s fuselage to fit around it. This resulted in a large supercharger (turbo) in the rear fuselage, with the large air intake duct being mounted underneath the engine. The system piped exhaust gases back to the turbo and expelled them through an opening in the bottom of the fuselage.

After addressing the myriad of performance and production issues inherent in a new aircraft design, Republic delivered the first P-47B to the USAAC in May, 1942. After delivering 171 B models, Republic started delivering a refined C model in September, 1942, and in late 1942, the P-47C arrived in Europe. Its first combat mission on March 10, 1943 involved the Eighth Air Force’s 4th Fighter Group performing a fighter sweep over France.  Unfortunately, the mission was a failure due to radio problems, resulting in the retrofit of all in-theater P-47s with British radios. The 4th resumed P-47 combat operations on April 8, 1943. That summer, the P-47 was also deployed to Italy with the 12th Air Force and was being used in the Pacific by the 348th Fighter Group.  By August, P-47s were performing large scale, long range escort missions for bombers attacking targets such as the Schweinfurt ball bearing plants in Germany.

The next variation, and the subject of this review, was the P-47D, of which Republic eventually built 12,602 aircraft. The D model was actually an evolving series of models, as Republic continued to refine the P-47 design. For example, the P-47D-15 was the result of combat units asking for longer range. In response to this combat requirement, Republic increased the internal fuel capacity to 375 gallons and installed “wet” fuel plumbing in the under-wing bomb racks to allow the carriage of a jettisonable drop tank under each wing (these were in addition to the belly tank).

At this time, Republic had three plants turning out P-47s: its original Farmingdale, NY plant, a newly constructed plant in Evansville, IN, and under license in the Curtiss Plant at Buffalo, NY.  

To this point, all P-47s had been the “razorback” canopy configuration with the tall fuselage spine behind the pilot. This created poor visibility, and Republic looked for a way to provide better pilot visibility. The British, also facing this combat problem, had come up with a “bubble” canopy for the Hawker Typhoon that significantly improved pilot vision.  The USAAF looked at this canopy and decided it was a solution to the problem (not only for the P-47, but also for the P-51).  The new bubble canopy was incorporated into the P47D-25 and Republic started shipping them to combat units in May, 1944.

The most famous P-47 pilot of World War II was Francis S. “Gabby” Gabreski. Assigned to the 56th Fighter Group in February, 1943, Gabreski became a flight leader and later assumed command of the 61st Fighter Squadron.  By late November, he had become an ace. His kill totals climbed through the winter of 1944, and by March, he had 18 kills to his credit. With his three Fw-190 kills on July 20, 1944, he tied Robert S. Johnson as the leading ace in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). On July 5, 1944, he got his 28th and final kill of the war, making him the unsurpassed ETO kill leader.

Ironically, Gabreski’s aerial kill total was cut short by a strafing run while returning from an escort mission to Russelsheim, Germany. As he was strafing an He 111, he noticed his tracers were going over the parked aircraft, so he dropped the nose of his P-47 to adjust. The prop hit the runway, and the bent tips caused his engine to vibrate badly.  Gabreski was forced to crash land the aircraft, and was subsequently captured by the Germans. He spent the remainder of the war in Stalag Luft I, and was liberated by the Russians in April, 1945 (note: another P-47 ace, Major Walter Beckham, who at the time was the leading ETO P-47 ace with 18 kills, was shot down and captured during a February 22, 1944 mission. He taught himself physics while a POW, and later earned his PhD in Physics at the University of California under Dr. Edward Teller, the father of the thermonuclear (“hydrogen”) bomb. I interject this for two reasons: (1) I am proud to say that I worked with Col. Beckham in my first Air Force duty assignment - he was the chief scientist of the Air Force Weapons Laboratory at Kirtland AFB, NM. At the time, I didn’t realize his P-47 fame/experience, and I am sorry I missed out on getting him to reminisce about flying the jug; and (2) it would have been interesting to see how many kills both he and Gabreski might have ended the war with had they not been downed and spent so many months in POW camps).

Not only did Gabreski end the war as the leading American fighter ace in Europe with 28 aerial kills, but he added another 6.5 kills to his total during the Korean War.  He continued his 26 year Air Force career after Korea with a number of assignments and retired on November 1, 1967. Gabby Gabreski passed away on January 31, 2002 at the age of 83.




For a detailed look at what’s in the box, see Tom Cleaver's in-box review.  I must confess that, other than my build of Lindberg’s Laird-Turner Meteor Air Racer several years ago, I have not assembled a 1/32 aircraft kit since the mid seventies. After building just about all of the 1/32 kits that came out in that decade, I finally decided they occupied way too much shelf space when completed, so I quit purchasing/building them and shifted to the growing 1/48 scale class of kits.  I successfully resisted 1/32 kits for nearly 30 years, but with the renewed emphasis by kit manufacturers on 1/32 scale, I finally caved, and I purchased several of them (hey, I didn’t have them in my stash, so I needed them!). The Hasegawa P-47 is my re-entry into this scale, and it’s a winner. A total pleasure to build, I found the detail incredible when I recalled the Revell and Hasegawa 1/32 kits of yore.  As Tom says in his review, this kit is right up there with the Tamiya 1/48 kit as THE definitive P-47 model kit (I have not seen the Trumpeter kits, so those who have seen them and/or built one might have a different opinion about this).

Believe it or not, I didn’t have a model of Gabreski’s jug in my collection, so I decided to build the post D-Day version of his mount as depicted in the kit. I went through the instructions to get a feel for which optional parts I should use to model this aircraft, and then jumped into the construction process.  For Gabreski’s P47D-25, I opted for the hydraulic Hamilton-Standard prop vice the also included Curtiss-Electric symmetrical paddle prop used by later P-47 variants.  Even though the kit’s cockpit floor does not represent the earlier variant corrugated floor, I opted not to recreate this via extra detailing (e.g., plastic strips).




As usual, I started construction with the cockpit. While others might want to add detail, I found the Hasegawa cockpit to be full of detail. The only thing I added was a set of Eduard’s painted, photo etch seat belts and shoulder harness. I painted the cockpit a dark green and gave it a wash of black acrylic Liquitex. I then picked out details with a silver artist’s pencil, and set the completed cockpit tub aside to move on to other assembly steps.  

Next, I tackled the radial engine. I had a little trouble lining up some of the cylinder pushrods, but after a little adjusting, I got them to line up. I painted the engine Testors Steel and then gave it a wash of Liquitex black acrylic. The engine is a perfect candidate for super-detailing, for those that are so inclined.  Once dry, I installed the engine in the cowling, which is in several sections. I thought these would be difficult to line up, but they aligned just fine, negating the need for any filling, sanding, etc.

I then glued the cockpit to one half of the fuselage and then glued the two fuselage halves together. With a little work, the fuselage halves lined up pretty well. I did not need to use any putty for the seams: only light sanding to completely smooth it.

The next assembly was the wings. Here, one needs to decide on flaps down or fully retracted. I opted to build my kit with the flaps down, even though I understand that the normal procedure was to retract the flaps once the aircraft was on the ground. Once assembled, the wings glue onto a set of spars, which really helps align and mate them to the fuselage. If done correctly, this also negates the need for any putty to create a smooth wing to fuselage seam.

I assembled the landing gear and the gear doors, and painted both assemblies for later attachment to the model. After I glued on the horizontal stabilizers, the turbo exhaust, and the tail wheel housing the kit was ready for the paint shop. I planned to do an open canopy version (the kit provides both open and closed canopies), so I masked the canopy sections with Scotch tape and then used white glue to attach the canopy in the closed position to the fuselage for painting (note: since the canopy braces on Gabreski’s P-47 were natural metal, I could have just masked the cockpit instead of covering it with the canopy, but this is a method I have always used when I paint aircraft models. Old habits die hard!).



According to references, the underside of Gabreski’s P-47D was light gray, and the topside was a darker, bluish gray with dark green mottling. I opted for Testors Model Master paints to represent these colors. I painted the underside, and then applied pin striping tape to define the demarcation between the lower and upper surfaces. I then applied the topside gray, and when dried, I tackled the dark green mottling. I decided to free-hand this, as I didn’t think I had the patience to create masks for the various dark green sections. This takes a steady hand, and mistakes ARE inevitable (e.g., overspray, small paint runs, etc.), so some correctional painting was in order.

Once the overall camo scheme was complete, it was time to mask and paint the red tail rudder and red nose cowling. I masked these with pin striping tape, and then painted the masked off areas with Testors flat red.

The next major decision was with regards to the invasion stripes (on this post D-Day variant of Gabreski’s aircraft, the top wing stripes had been painted over). Having had bad experiences with large stripe decals before, I was nervous about using the kit decals, so I decided to mask and paint the lower wing stripes. By the time I got to the fuselage stripes, I revisited the decal sheet and decided that the contours, if they worked, would save me a bunch of time, so I decided to try them once I had clear-coated the entire aircraft in preparation for applying the decals.

For the fuselage invasion stripes (and all decals) I used a generous amount of Solvaset, and I must say that these Hasegawa decals were a pleasant surprise. They laid down perfectly, and at this point, I was kicking myself for not having used the kit decals on the wings.

Once the decals were dry, I shot several coats of Testors Dulcote over the entire model to reduce the glossy finish. I then popped off the two canopy sections, and painted the canopy braces with Humbrol Silver. The final touch was to brush paint the prop hub with Humbrol Silver (if you haven’t used this stuff, it is the best brush metal paint I have ever used, and I highly recommend it. In fact, I am now using it for spraying large natural metal areas on my kits rather than the various metalizer paints that are available – it looks acceptable as natural metal, it can be masked, and you can handle the kit once the paint is dry).





And there you have it: I’m back in the 1/32 aircraft business and I must admit I am hooked! This is a great kit: the detail is more than ample; the fit is superb, and the decals are a pleasure. What more could one ask for in a modeling project?  I highly recommend this kit to one and all!


1.       “P-47 Thunderbolt,” Wikipedia, 2009.

2.      “Gabby Gabreski,” Wikipedia, 2009.

3.      “Walter C. Beckham,” P-47 Thunderbolt Pilots Association, 2009.

Blair Stewart

February 2009

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