by: Nigel Julian [ ]
Originally published on:
The P-47 D was the most numerous variant of designer Alexander Kartveli’s Thunderbolt. Both the “Razorback” and the later “Bubbletop” versions saw service in many theatres of WW2. Initially used as an escort fighter the P-47 really found its niche when it was employed as a ground attack fighter-bomber.
Tamiyas release of the 1:72 Razorback in 2004 set a new benchmark for fans of the P-47 in this scale. Now accompanied by a Bubbletop version these 2 kits are without a doubt the finest 1:72 scale representations of a P-47 available.
Packaged in the usual style sturdy Tamiya top opening box you’ll find 4 sprues of typical Tamiya grey plastic parts, and a single one of the clear parts. Decals in their own plastic bag and an A4 sized instruction leaflet. Everything is extremely well moulded with hardly a trace of flash to be found. Detail is finely engraved and the cockpit in particular stands out. Indeed, its on a par or better than aftermarket resin cockpits.
As usual, assembly begins with the cockpit tub. Tamiya have designed the sprue layout so that it enables the modeller to paint the cockpit components while still attached, making handling and painting so much easier. Decals are supplied for the instrument panel and seatbelts. As I wanted to build this Razorback OOB I used the seatbelt decal this time, but for future builds I intend to use aftermarket seatbelts.
The base coat for the cockpit tub was Humbrol 117, and after the various details had been painted I gave the whole area a wash with burnt sienna and drybrushed it in a lighter green and silver.
Step 2 of the instructions deals with the joining of the fuselage halves. Don’t forget to insert the main spar! The fit here, as in all areas of this kit, is superb. No filler and only a bare minimum of sanding required.
Step 3 deals with the assembly of the Pratt and Whitney radial engine. This comes in 3 parts and was painted in a silver base coat. Details were picked out in black and a dark wash was applied and details were picked out with some more drybrushing. The instructions indicate that the cowling should be attached at this stage but I left this until later on in the build.
No wiring set is included for the engine and I have yet to pluck up the courage to attempt scratchbuilding one. Maybe next time.
Step 4 is the wing assembly. If you intend to add any of the impressive collection of ordnance on offer you will need to drill holes before joining the top and bottom wing sections. These are clearly indicated along with the required diameter. A nice touch that I wish other manufacturers would adopt.
Step 5 is the attachment of the wings and horizontal stabilizers. The inclusion of a main spar ensures the wings have the correct dihedral and again the fit is superb.
Steps 6 and 7 show the attachment of the undercarriage, canopy and propeller. As usual, I left this until last. 2 types of propeller are supplied with the kit. The Curtiss style and the later Hamilton Paddle Blade.
Finally, step 8 deals with the assembly of the external stores and ordnance.
Painting and Decals
Two decal options are included with the kit.
“Little Chief” of the 8th AF, 56th FG, 61st FS.
“Sleepy Time Gal” of the 5th AF, 58th FG, 69th FS.
I elected to use one option of an Aztec “Pin Up Thunderbolts” decal set to depict an un-named P-47 of the 63rd FS, 56th FG Zemkes Wolfpack.
The model was first primed with Halfords Plastic Primer.
After a dip and overnight dry in Klear the canopy was masked using an Eduard pre cut mask. This was the first time I had used one of these and I can highly recommend them. The frames were brush painted in Humbrol 117 to match the interior cockpit colour and then the canopy was tacked into place with a very small amount of white glue. The preshading was sprayed on using Tamiya Matt Black.
I wanted to depict a well worn P-47 so I used a technique for fading that I found in Brett Greens Osprey book “Modelling The P-47 Thunderbolt”.
First the base colour was applied. Tamiya XF53 Neutral Grey. I then misted on a 70/30 mix of neutral grey and white in random patterns. Stage 3 was to roughly fill in the panels with a 50/50 mix of grey and white and finally a heavily thinned mix of 95% white and 5% grey was misted over the underside to blend everything together.
Once dry the underside was masked off and the top surface painted using the same method but with XF 62 Olive Drab and XF 4 Yellow Green. For a first attempt I was very pleased with the end result and will definitely employ this technique in future.
After a couple of coats of Klear I masked and sprayed the white stripes on the tail and the sky coloured band on the cowling. Although the tail stripes are often supplied as decals I find the small amount of extra work involved in painting these on makes a big difference to the finished model.
Then it was time for the decals which went on with only a minor hitch when one of the fuselage decals snagged and ripped. Luckily I had a spare from another kit and after a 24 wait for them to settle into the recessed detail using MicroSol the model received another 2 coats of Klear to seal the decals and provide a smooth base for applying the oil wash.
A Burnt Umber oil wash was applied over the whole model and when dry I post shaded the panel lines with a thinned Tamiya Smoke. Finally everything was blended together with a very thin overspray of Tamiya Smoke again. Roughly 90% thinners, 10% smoke.
While waiting for everything to cure I set about assembling the ordnance. I was building this for the “Down Low” Campaign on Aeroscale and intended to kit it out with a full set of rockets, 500lb GP bombs and a drop tank. I drilled out the end of the rocket tubes for a more realistic look.
For the bombs I decided again to try something new. The kit supplied bombs are smooth but were actually cast metal. To replicate this I made up a mixture of liquid glue and putty and painted this onto the bomb casing. The end result looks very effective and Im glad I made the extra effort.
Once all the ordnance was attached the model was sprayed with Humbrol Matt Varnish from a rattle can and when dry the canopy masking was removed and the canopy posed in the open position. With the fabulous detail on offer in the cockpit area it seems criminal to display a Tamiya Thunderbolt with the cockpit closed up.
In my mind the 1:72 Tamiya P-47’s are the best on the market by a long way. With the abundance of aftermarket decals available the Thunderbolt fans amongst us could quite happily build this kit over and over and build up a fine collection of this fabulous aircraft.
ReferencesOsprey. Modelling The P-47 Thunderbolt. Brett Green.
Combat Legend P-47 Thunderbolt. Jerry Scutts.
Classic WWII Aviation Vol 4. P-47 Thunderbolt. Edward Shacklady.
Osprey Aircraft Of The Aces #24. P-47 Aces of the Eighth Air Force.
Classic Colours USAAF Colours 3. American Eagles. P-47 Thunderbolt Units of the Eighth Air Force. Roger Freeman.
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