Tamiya 1/48 Republic P-47D

Model, Text and Photos by: Tony Bell

 

Introduction

There have been volume upon volume written about the P-47 Thunderbolt. Most modellers are at least passingly familiar with the aircraft and it's history, so I won't regurgitate any of that here, but instead will concentrate on the model it self.

I elected to build my Tamiya P-47D straight out of the box. The only additions were the masking tape seat belts and Aeromaster decals. The markings for "Miss Behave" came from Aeromaster 48-538 "Best Sellers, P-47 Thunderbolts, Pt. I"

Nits to Pick

Fit and engineering is nearly flawless, with only a few minor areas to watch out for. The fit of the leading edge inserts for the machine guns was a bit off, requiring a bit of trimming and dry fitting to achieve a perfect fit. Likewise, the panel inserts on the lower wing needed a bit of fiddling to get them just so. In neither case was any filler required. The instrument panel shroud which supports the armored glass had to be trimmed on the bottom a bit to avoid interfering with the fit of the windscreen. The most surprising flaw in my kit was a somewhat prominent sink mark along the roots and just ahead of the elevators. I filled these with Mr. Surfacer 500 and sanded them smooth.

Although Tamiya provides for dropped flaps, I decided to pose them in the retracted position, as the vast majority of pictures of parked P-47 show the flaps up. Because the entire ailerons are moulded with the upper wing, the trailing edges are nice and thin. However, because the flaps are broken down into upper and lower halves, the trailing edges are a bit thicker. This is not noticeable if the flaps are lowered, but because I decided to depict them raised, I had to thin the trailing edges to be consistent with the ailerons. I filled in the rivet detail on the lower surfaces of the flaps with Mr Surfacer and sanded the trailing edges thin. The inboard edges of the flaps and the corresponding portions of the wing root had to be filed and trimmed to get them to fit exactly.

The Cockpit

The kit cockpit is an absolute gem, rendering any aftermarket resin replacement totally redundant. The Dark Dull Green colour was mixed from Tamiya green, blue, black and white, the exact mix being eyeballed until it matched the colour photographs in Bert Kinzey's "P-47 in Detail & Scale". Future was added to the mix to make it glossy, and it was used to spray the major components. A wash of Testors gloss black enamel was applied to add depth to the recesses, followed by a coat of Polly Scale clear flat. The avionics boxes were painted flat black and everything was dry brushed with a medium green-grey mixed from artists oils. Various switches and knobs were picked out with red, silver white and gloss black. A silver Prismacolor coloured pencil was used to draw some scuff marks and chipping.

The seat harness was made from strips of masking tape painted buff for the shoulder belts and olive green for the lap belts. The stitching was drawn on with a needle sharp pencil. The instrument panel was painted flat black and then dry brushed grey, with each instrument punched from the kit decal, applied individually and finished with a drop of Future.

The Engine

The engine is also very nicely detailed, with separate front and rear cylinder banks, gear housing and magnetos, two styles of which are provided. The cylinders were painted Tamiya satin black and dry brushed with Humbrol Metalcote steel, and the pushrods brush painted gloss black. The reduction gear housing was painted neutral grey while the fasteners and ignition harness ring were painted silver. The housing was given a (sort-of) wash consisting on Poly Scale clear satin mixed with india ink. The Hamilton Standard prop is included in the kit and was painted Tamiya Satin black, with Alclad II Duraluminum being used for the prop hub. The hub detail was also enhanced the Poly Scale and ink wash.

Assembly and Painting

The assembly of the airframe went without incident, requiring absolutely no filler. A quick swipe with a sanding stick was all that was required to eliminate the fuselage and wing leading edge seams. The canopy was masked with Tamiya tape and attached with liquid cement. Although it is my usual habit to dip my canopies in Future, the kit's transparencies were so clear and free of distortion that this time it was unnecessary.

After painting the canopy area dark dull green, the entire model was pre-shaded by airbrushing black along all the panel lines. The D-Day stripes and theatre bands were sprayed Tamiya white and masked, followed by the black portions of the stripes which were also masked off. The lower surfaces were airbrushed Tamiya sky, lightened with a bit of white. The paint was thinned more than usual (about 60%) with rubbing alcohol and sprayed on in light coats until the pre-shading was just barely visible. The upper surfaces were painted in a similar manner using Gunze British dark green lightened with white and thinned with automotive paint reducer (a sort of lacquer thinner). The demarcation between the dark green and the sky was masked using rolls of Blu Tac to obtain a tight feathered edge.

Decals and Weathering

Several shades of the dark green were mixed up, darkening it with black and lightening it with white. These were heavily thinned (95%) with alcohol and sprayed in a semi-random manner, concentrating more on the panel lines with the darker shades and more on the panel centres with the lighter ones. Finally some un-tinted Gunze dark green was thinned 90% and airbrushed in random patches all over. The masks for the stripes and bands were removed and the rudder masked off and sprayed Tamiya red. By taking advantage of the fact that red is a relatively translucent pigment, I allowed the theatre band to peek through, just a little bit on the rudder.

Next I airbrushed Future over the entire model to prep the surface for decals. The Aeromaster markings went on without a hitch, responding well to Microsol and Solvaset. The fuselage national insignia were cut into several pieces to fit around the intercooler doors. Some of the stencilling came from the kit decals which, while not as thin as Aeromaster, were quite a bit thinner than Tamiya's past releases. 0applications of Microsol.

Once the decals had dried completely, I gave the panel lines a wash of dark brownish grey mixed from burnt umber, black and white artists oils thinned with mineral spirits. Once dry, the excess wash was wiped away with a clean paper town dampened with thinner. The whole model was lightly dusted with Tamiya Buff thinned 95% with alcohol, followed by a final coat of Polly Scale clear flat thinned with distilled water. Polly Scale is one of the best flat coats I have ever used, but it is imperative to strain it before airbrushing it.

Fiddly Bits

After removing the masking from the canopy, I attached the rear view mirror with Future (yes, it's a glue too). The actual mirror portion was made from a disc punched from a potato chip bag.

The landing gear doors and wells were painted Tamiya yellow green mixed with Future to make it glossy. A wash of gloss black enamel and a dry brush with light yellow artist's oils was all that was necessary to bring out the impressive detail in this area. The landing gear legs and wheel hubs were airbrushed with Alclad II Duraluminum and weathered with the clear satin and india ink mix. The tires were brush painted Aeromaster tire black and the treads were airbrushed with a light dusting of Tamiya buff. The fit of the wheels onto the landing gear legs was so precise that I didn't bother to glue them on. If it weren't for the fact that there was a minuscule amount of play in the fit of the gear legs into the wings, I would have not bothered to glue those either. As it was, a bit of liquid cement was all that was needed to ensure a solid assembly.

Just for variety, I painted the belly tank Neutral Grey, with a disc punched from red decal stock for the filler cap. Th0000e wingtip formation lights are moulded separately and feature little dimples for the bulbs. These were painted clear red (left) and clear blue (right) and attached with Future. Even though right hand wing tip lights are green when illuminated, a close look at the bulbs reveals that they are actually blue when they're not lit. Tamiya's painting directions capture this little detail correctly.

The machinegun barrels provided with the kit are cleverly moulded without any seam lines and a nice deep dimple at the muzzle end. I drilled them out to give them a bit more depth and painted them Alclad II Steel. Once more, the fit was so precise that all that was required to hold the barrels in place was a teeny amount of Future brushed around the base of each tube. The final detail to be added was the antenna running from the vertical tail to the little conical insulator moulded into the right fuselage. The antenna wire was made from "invisible" nylon mending thread painted Humbrol steel and fixed in place with superglue.

The End

All in all, it took me four weeks to build my Jug, which is a record fast time. Simply put, it is the best kit I have ever built. The detail, fit and engineering are second to none, and the finished product looks better sitting next to other models that took five times as long to build. Now bring on that B-17, Tamiya!

 


Item: Description: Price:
(click to order)

TM61086
P-47D Razorback Thunderbolt
Tamiya 1/48 Aircraft