Academy 1/72 P-47D 'Bubbletop'




around $12.00 or so


Two aircraft


Scott Van Aken




The P-47 was designed to be the USAAC's main front-line fighter and was based somewhat on the earlier XP-41 and P-43. The turbocharging equipment required a lot of interior space and this made the aircraft very heavy in comparison to similar aircraft. However, this weight was overcome by the power produced by its radial engine. The aircraft was fast in a straight line and had a great roll rate, but did not do so well in the climb at low level until paddle blade props were introduced later in production. Earlier P-47s were fairly easily out-maneuvered by the lighter Luftwaffe fighters, so most Thunderbolt pilots used dive and zoom tactics.

The aircraft's radial engine and heavy construction made it a perfect ground attack aircraft. It could carry a good ordnance load and it was able to take a lot of damage. The radial engine in particular acted like a huge section of armor for the pilot and it was not uncommon for the P-47 to continue to fly even with a cylinder blown off.

Post war, the D versions were quickly withdrawn from service and scrapped though many were sent to other air forces and to the air national guard.


Academy's 2001 kit looks a LOT like the Hasegawa kit of the same plane, but as with many seemingly copied kits done by Academy, it brings with it a few differences, some of which you may like and some not. First of all, like the Hasegawa kit, it is engraved panel lines, and, in my mind, about the same in terms of quality. Where this goes ahead of its competitor is that we now have a nicely detailed interior. Not as good as the True Details resin one, for sure, but much better than the joke of the Hase kit. One also gets a two piece canopy so that the interior can be displayed. There is also a centerline fuel tank that is new to this kit as well as under wing bazookas. One thing I find quite odd is that there is one long paper drop tank and one smaller aluminum tank. I'd have thought that a pair of drop tanks would be available, but apparently you have to build a jabo out of this one with the two bombs on the pylons. Most unusual. Of course, you could just buy two kits.....

Other nice things are two different props; an early Curtiss-Electic and a Hamilton Standard. Having the asymmetrical one would have been a very nice addition and somewhat limits what aftermarket markings you can use. For those who care, the P-47D-20 was the last series to use the kit supplied narrow blade prop. This presents a quandary as the first bubbletop planes were P-47D-25, so you are limited to those versions with the Hamilton Standard prop. The kit also includes a full engine  and a rather oddly done set of upper gear doors which means that you can only build it as is with the gear down. A separate upper and middle door would have been more realistic. The cowling is also a two section construct with the carb/cooler intake baffle a separate piece.

Instructions are quite good and color info is in generic and FS 595 format. Markings are for two aircraft. The box art plane is with the 405th FG with their distinctive red ID stripes. The other is a camouflaged RAF version with 615 Squadron in India during the last year of the Pacific war. The white ID stripes are included on the Decal sheet, though it would probably be wiser to paint these. Decals are very well printed and look great. Some have mentioned having problems with Academy decals and I can echo that. They need to be handled carefully and sometimes won't react well to setting solutions, but they will work.


While I have not built one of these. However, if it is like other Academy kits, it will be a pleasant experience and make a nice addition to your display shelf.

June 2020

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