Platz 1/144 P-47D Bubbletop Thunderbolt

KIT: Platz 1/144 P-47D Bubbletop Thunderbolt
KIT #: PD 13
PRICE: 1400
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Two full kits in each box.

HISTORY

One of the three most important US fighters used in the European theater was the P-47 Thunderbolt. As often happens, the aircraft was most successful in a role for which it was not designed. Allow me to back up a bit. The Thunderbolt was designed to be a high altitude escort fighter, able to go with the bombers to targets and back. Hence the turbocharging of the engine and the heavy 8 gun armament. Problem was, the Thunderbolt was a gas-hog of the first degree and had such a limited range that the best it could do was escort bombers for the first section of their mission and meet them coming back for the last.

The only other available fighter with the range needed was the P-38 Lightning. However, it had serious engine problems caused by detonation at high altitude that were never really cured, and it wasn't the fastest plane around nor the best dog-fighter. The best plane for the escort mission was the Mustang. However it wasn't designed for the USAAF and had to be pretty well shoved down the throats of AAF generals to get it into production for American pilots.

Back to the Thunderbolt. Once enough Mustangs got into service, the P-47 was pretty much switched over to a role for which it was superbly designed, that of fighter-bomber. It could carry bombs with little trouble, had heavy guns and thanks to that big radial, was a lot less susceptible to ground fire than its liquid-cooled comrades. However, there were never enough Mustangs to go around and so in some units, specifically the 56 FG, the P-47 soldiered on in both escort and fighter bomber roles.

THE KIT

1/144 modelers who like quality kits of WWII fighters have had it quite good in the last couple of years. First Sweet started releasing kits and a bit later Platz started doing the same thing. Now I'm not sure if these two companies are in any way related to each other, but I can tell you that they both do some superb kits. Because of the small size, they generally offer two full kits in each box and this one is no exception.

Platz's Thunderbolt is superbly done and while the engraved detailing is probably like having gutters between the panels in full scale, they do the job of conveying the lines and that is what is important. I found a bit of flash on some parts, most notably the prop blades and pitot tube. Easy enough to clean up.

The kit actually is well detailed with a seat and control panel to put into the cockpit tub. The main gear has the lower gear door molded onto it and the wheel fits onto the stub on the inside of the door. A full engine is given to us and there are three different props; two Curtiss-Electric and a Hamilton Standard. These will be used depending on the aircraft modeled.

You will notice that the layout of the sprues (with the fuselage halves separate) will mean a razorback. There are holes in the lower wing for wing pylons and/or the infrequently used bazooka. Two bombs are provided for the pylons. I personally would have rather seen fuel tanks, but that is the way it goes. A large centerline fuel tank is provided. Those with sharp eyes will notice the additional fin fillet included to do a later -30 P-47. The only wheel options are the ones for 6 holes.

Instructions offer five construction steps with the appropriate notes. Only one prop option (a CE) is given for the three markings options. All are unpainted metal. Both OD and Black anti-glare panel decals are given, a nice touch.  One is the box art plane as flown by Glenn Eagleson with the 354 FG, another is a checker nosed 78 FG plane as flown by Benjamin Mayo. The third option has the fin fillet and is really a P-47M from the 56 FG as flown by Hub Zemke. I believe this was a post war scheme. I should also point out that it was not uncommon for the P-47M to be flown without wing pylons. The decal sheet is superbly done and provides all the D-Day stripes as used on the first two options. While not matching the nearly dozen options that some Sweet kits provide, these markings are more extensive and well chosen. The decal and painting guide is repeated on the back of the box in full color.  

CONCLUSIONS

I can't see this kit doing anything other than very brisk sales. The quality is there and one can easily build up quite an air armada in a relatively short time with these kits. If you have never tried one of these kits, you'll be in for quite a pleasant surprise.

May 2008

My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview sample. Get yours today at your local shop or have them order it in for you.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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