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Accurate P-47D Thunderbolt - The Hard Way

n by Darrell Thompson

Back in 2003 before Tamiya had produced their wonderful 1/72 scale P-47D, the most accurate Jug in this scale at the time was Revellís P-47D Bubbletop. So being a fan of the P-47 and wanting to produce a more accurate Razorback version of the P-47 I started with the Academy P-47D and proceeded to modify it.

So whatís wrong with the Academy P-47? Well the cockpit is a bit basic, the .50 calibre machine gun blast tubes are parallel with the wing, they should be parallel with the ground, and they are also too thick. Other problems with this kit are: the turbocharger outlet is far too narrow; the engine is a bit basic and the splitter plate beneath the engine is the wrong shape and sits too low; the wheel wells and doors are a bit basic; the intercooler outlet doors are simplified as are the oil cooler outlets doors and deflectors, the list goes on.

So having both the Academy Razorback and the Revell Bubbletop kit the logical step is to combine both kits using the most accurate parts from each. Now a sensible person would probably build the Revell kit, then cut of the spine from the Academy kit and attached this to the Bubbletop aircraft. Instead I decided to do it the long way and build the Academy kit using parts from the Revell kit as well as aftermarket parts to produce a more accurate P-47.


The first area to improve was the intercooler outlet doors, this was done simply by remove the kit detail and adding the ducting inside the fuselage from plastic card. The doors themselves were taken from the Revell kit.

The next thing to tackle was the narrow turbo-supercharger exhaust on the bottom of the fuselage. The Revell kit has a nice fat accurate exhaust so using a hot knife I carefully cut out the area around the exhaust and using a Dremel removed this area from the Academy kit. Once glued in placed and after a little filling and sanding this area was a great improvement.

The oil cooler outlet doors and the deflectors behind them are far too small on the kit, these were cut out and produced from plastic card instead. The cockpit was improved by using the Aires set for the Academy kit with a few little extra bits added.

The rather basic engine was replaced with a Pavla resin item which has the correct early type distributors and the ignition wiring all cast in place. The splitter plate that sits below the engine was replaced with the one from the Revell kit. Since the P-47D-10 I was building did not have the two lower cowling flaps either side reduced in width, thin plastic card was used to fill this area.

Next it was on to the wings, now Revell have a nice gear bays moulded in to the top half of their wings and the gun blast tubes, which are correctly done on the Revell kit, are moulded into the leading edge of the lower half. I wanted to use the Academy wing since this correctly matches the profile of the wing to fuselage fillet, but since the blast tubes were on the bottom of the Revell wing I decided to use the top of the Academy wing and the bottom of the Revell.

The gear bays were cut out of the Revell wing halves and the top sides were thinned as was the inside of the Academy wing till the gear bays fitted nicely. The panels on the leading edge of the wings, which sits around the gun blast tubes, were transplanted from the Revell wing to the Academy. Using a hot knife this area was cut out and the same area removed on the Academy wing. This is where I had to be careful to match up with the blast tubes in the lower wing section when the two wing halves are bought together, since this area has little cutouts which have to sit over the blast tubes.

Other improvements to the wing included adding the lower wing fences that are visible when the pylons are not fitted, producing wing tip nav light from clear sprue, shortening the gun bay panels by filling and rescribing the panel lines and removing the compressibility flaps from behind the gear bays and moving the landing light to this position. The shape of the wings from the two kits are a little different so a bit of trimming was needed here and there, but once completed the wing looked pretty good.

Once the wings were attached to the fuselage, it was about this time that the Tamiya P-47 appeared. So wondering why I was doing all this work I bought several of the Tamiya kits and put this project to one side. About a year and a half later I decided that since Iíd already put in a lot of work it would be a waste if I didnít finish this project - and I have a lot of P-47 decals to get through!.

So the tail planes were added using resin items from Pavla, having separate elevators that can be posed in the nose down position, which is where the P-47ís control column is held when the control surface lock is in place. The tail wheel bay was opened up slightly and the bay from the Revell kit was slotted in. The main wheels were replaced with items from True Details, which had their over bulging sanded off, the gear legs and doors were used from the Revell kit as was the tail wheel. Now the Tamiya kit was out I had another kit to rob bits from, so the aerial mast and the propeller came from this kit, as did the fuel tank which was modified from the paper type to the steel type.


At last it was time for paint. Humbrol Olive Drab 155 and Neutral Grey 126 were sprayed on with an Iwata Eclipse HP-CS, a thin roll of blu-tak being used to get a tight soft demarcation line between the two colours. Humbrol white 130 was used for the ID bands. The model was then weathered using chalk pastels.

After a few coats of Future the decals were applied. These are from Superscale sheets number 72-122, this aircraft being a P-47D-10-RE of the 63rd FS, 56th FG flown by Robert Landry and all so used by John Vogt. Having photos of the real aircraft the pirate nose art needed some attention, so it was out with the 0000 brush and I improved the look of the little fellow a bit.

The tail numbers on the Supercale sheet were too small so I used individual numbers carefully placed from the Aeromaster sheet instead. The final coat was Poly Scale satin with a touch of matt to get that waxed look, often used on 56th FG Thunderbolts.


Click to enlarge

Now at last this project is finished. Iím pleased with it, even though we now have the Tamiya kit which if built straight from the box is still more accurate in a lot of areas! But I did learn a lot of things on this project like if I want to build a 1/72 scale P-47 Iíll only use the Tamiya kit in future!

Additional images, click to enlarge



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