Ace 1/72 P-47D Thunderbolt

KIT #: 500
PRICE: AUD $4.00
DECALS: Three options
NOTES: 35 parts. A lesser-detailed knock-off of a Hasegawa kit.


There have been many excellent briefs on the development and combat record of the P.47 Thunderbolt in its razorback and bubble canopy formats.  As I cannot add anything new, I will not try.  Except to say that the P.47D Thunderbolt looks like a brute of an aircraft (to me) and that it proves the old adage that, if you give a brick enough propulsion, it too, will fly.


I bought this kit because it was cheap.  And while the plastic is a bubbletop, the boxart, and one instruction panel, shows a razorback.  The plastic comes in two sprues holding the 34 pale grey parts.  The details are very finely engraved, though the parts are marred by some flash, mould-slippage and knock-out pin scars.  The propeller is moulded with a step along the length of each blade and each undercarriage door is moulded as one piece that has to be cut apart - a pet hate of mine.

 I had an idea, and the only aircraft that would do it justice (in my humble opinion), was the P.47D Thunderbolt.  And once I had all of the components to execute my idea, I excavated this kit from deep within my stash.


I started this model when I mustered the components for my big idea and washed the kit parts prior to painting the insides.  I was working on the cockpit, the wings and the engine all at the same time.  In the cockpit, the pilotís throne was butchered to make it look more utilitarian, and some detailing lumps were thrown against the plain smooth walls.  I used the IP plate & decal, and added a stick & gunsight for the pilot.  The wings required internal strips of plastic card and careful gluing together to bring the undersurfaces level with the moulded-in trailing edge. 

Before being mated to the fuselage sides, a portion of the upper wing-halfís mating surface had to be removed.  To leave it would create an obstructing fence across the wheel well.  As well, the upper wing/fuselage join required plastic card as a heavy-duty filler, followed by putty, then Mr Surfacer.  Do you know how hard it is to fill the roof of a wheel well?  Well, I do!!  Fortunately, the rest of the airframe behaved itself, requiring only a little putty.  


I wanted a light grey belly with a dark blue cam over a blue/grey upper surface.  But I got lazy and elected to brush-paint her with Citadel Miniature paints - Fortress grey for the belly (which is too dark) and Space wolves grey for the uppers (which is too blue).  At this point, she was Futured, then decaled.  Only the ones on the fuselage sides put up a fight, so I resolved the issue by separating a bar from the star.  The loose bar was placed squarely over the open door and sliced with a sharp blade to make it conform - a touch of touch-up paint and youíd never know, while the Star (& other bar) went on normally.      

Now for my big idea.  I took the three decal sheets of Nose-art girls produced by Starship modeller and enlarged them to 400% in a photocopier.  My intention was to cover the copies with a clear sticky plastic sheet (called Contact here in Australia), then Tamiya tape, then to cut away the image to produce a stencil in the Tamiya tape.  Fortunately for me, the Contact was old and didnít stick too well to the paper.  So I removed the image area from the Contact (and the backing copy) by puncturing the perimeter of the required image with a pin, then joining the dots with a knife.  The stencil was cut from the sheet of contact, then lifted-off from the backing sheet and strategically applied to the model.  I stippled-in (a short rapid stabbing motion) the dark blue cam patch with a stiff brush.  Unlike the Ladies, the resultant silhouettes werenít perfect, but they were brought nearer to the mark by a little touching-up that you canít do to the real Ladies.  The size and pose of each Lady determined exactly where on the aircraft she went.  So there is a reclining Lady on the spine, a Lady sitting on the wingroot and a couple of Ladies on the tailplane and fin.

The Ladies were positioned so that they did not cover, and were not obstructed by, the national markings.  And since I had the Girls out, I placed one on the nose as per normal.   


All of the other bits were attached.  Iím particularly proud of the way I hid the knock-out pin scars by converting them into lightening holes with spots of grey paint.  As the underwing pylons were moulded with the wings, I was forced to use them, and chose the bombs because they look tougher than fuel tanks.  To round-off the bombs, I added arming vanes to the noses.  They are only little +ís cut from bits of PE ship railing.  I used Krystal Kleer to attach the canopy, and botched it because a little crept up the inside.  Add an antenna wire from EZ-Line and she was done.  


 OK, I know that there are better P.47 kits out there, but they arenít in my stash, and the dark blue/light blue combination may not have been used as cam colours.  But when I took my model to my local club, one college immediately fell into my trap.  He declared that such a cam job would never have existed.  So I whipped-out a photo of a US Marine CH.53 helicopter in Gulf War 1 with two similar cam patches in light brown/dark brown.  More worrying (to me) were the several modellers who could not see the girls for the cam.  You shoulda seen their eyes open wide when the model was turned a little for their benefit. 

When my young daughter saw my model, she pointed to one of the silhouettes and asked ďIs that a duck?Ē, and every time I look at my model, I see that b|()()|)y duck!!  I accept that you P.47 Purists will condemn me for being a naughty boy, but my P.47D is exactly as I imagined she would look.  Displaying it was a lotta fun, and so was the building and the painting.  And isnít that what this hobby is all about?  

George Oh

November 2010

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