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Revell's 1/32 P-47D conversion
Tandem T-Bolt

by Richard Marmo


Republic P-47D Thunderbolt "Bubbletop"
Two-Seater Conversion


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Today's model builders (meaning those who have only been building for the last 15 or maybe 20 years) are used to high quality kits whose parts can literally be held together and have the seams virtually disappear. Then there's the aftermarket where you can buy readymade castings (or photoetch frets) of just about any detail part you care to name. Put all of this together and the result is a gorgeous, superdetailed model that truly is a work of art.

But is it model building?

Back in the olden days (God, I hate to use that phrase!), manufacturers gave you kits of subjects that we all wanted and that we thought were the epitome of quality and detail. They were expensive, too. Some were as much as $4 or $5 or even more. If you wanted to improve it…or superdetail it for a contest, you did it by actually building the necessary bits and pieces. The finished model was something we were proud of and that frequently was a prizewinner in local and even national contests. Today, that same model would be ashamed to be seen on the shelves alongside the modern efforts that we've all become used to.

So let's go back 30 years or so (32 in this case) and see what was showing up in magazine articles at that time.


In November 1972, one of my articles appeared in a now-defunct magazine (that sold for the spectacular price of $1.25 per month) describing the conversion of the then-new 1/32nd scale Revell P-47D Thunderbolt (Razorback version) into a field-mod two-seater. Keep in mind that the following article was originally written in 1972 with the products and techniques available at the time. If nothing else, it'll provide a window into the way things used to be done. And along the way, maybe a laugh or two…especially when you see the names of certain products that no longer exist and you may not have even heard of.

By the way, for those of you who don't know, I'm a founding member of the IPMS/USA (IPMS/USA #2) and make my living as a freelance writer/modelbuilder.

Anyway, here it is. I hope you enjoy this little jaunt into the past. And if by chance you'd like to see more of these older articles, just let me know at tennexican@mindspring.com .

Believe me, I've got plenty of them.


A Tandem T-Bolt


Republic's P-47 Thunderbolt was, at first sight, invariably greeted with the question "That's a fighter?". Some pilots never liked the aircraft, while others found that she grew on them. Occasionally, entire fighter groups (notably the famed 56th F.G.) came to love the Jug so intensely that they ended the war flying Republic's monster.

Inevitably, field mods found their way into virtually every aircraft type, and the Jug was no exception. Whether as a squadron hack or VIP transport, a number of 2-seat Jugs eventually cropped up. While there were a couple of factory built 2-seat trainers (designated TP-47G), most were the result of field mods. About the only thing the two types had in common was their beginning as P-47D Razorbacks. From there, they went their separate ways.





The field modified version is the subject of this article, using Revell's 1/32 P-47D Razorback kit as its basis. Other materials you'll need are a second P-47 kit for the canopy, Squadron Sheet Styrene and Green Stuff.

The wings and stabilizers can be assembled per the instructions and all the rivet detail sanded off. One of the lesser evils of the kit is an over-abundance of fence posts that pass for rivets. Their removal is a marked improvement.

The original cockpit sub-assembly can be completed according to the instructions. However, I would suggest covering that gaping crack in the seat with a piece of .010 sheet styrene cut to shape, rather than try to fill the crack with putty. Besides being more effective, it's faster.

To make room for the second seat, cut the spine back to a point even with the aft edge of the canopy trough. After removing the spine section, spray the interior chromate green and install the kit interior. Now you can start on the second position floor and bulkhead. Best bet here is about .040 sheet styrene, with the time tested trial-and-error method used to obtain a good fit. Don't forget to cut a second bulkhead to cover the mold cavity in back of the pilot's armor plate.

Give the new office a shot of chromate, install the engine and you can mate the fuselage halves. However, do NOT join the vertical fin. It's chord is too narrow and must be enlarged.


About the simplest way to enlarge the tail fin is to sandwich a piece of .010 sheet styrene between the fin halves as they are cemented together. When dry, trim the styrene to the correct shape, slightly oversize. Perforate the exposed styrene and putty with Green Stuff. After it dries, sand the whole thing to correct contours.

Now for the second seat. Basic dimensions are taken from the kit seat, the new seat then being built up from three pieces of .010 sheet styrene. All that remains to do in the cockpit area is the adding of belts to both positions. These were made from common masking tape, while the buckles are small bits of styrene. Leave the belts the natural tape color and paint the buckles Flat Aluminum.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

To make a mold for a new vacuformed canopy, use canopies  from two P-47 kits. Remove the forward .50-inch of one sliding  canopy and cement that part to the part of the full sliding  section. Now, make a vertical cut at the rear of the lengthed  canopy exactly .50-inch forward of the canopy's aftmost point,  measuring along the bottom line.

The entire cockpit subassembly is painted chromate green. When dry, Pactra Steel is used on the seat while the instrument panel, control stick, side consoles and assorted boxes are Floquil Engine Black. The control stick boot has a coat of Pactra Olive Drab. Using a very fine brush and Imrie-Risley White, detail the instruments by touching only the raised portions of the bezels and instrument pointers, and the switches and buttons on the consoles.

From here on, construction is a pretty straightforward affair, apart from the canopy. Don't forget to sand all rivets off the fuselage.

The main gear struts must be cut down to the correct length. Revell provides them in the fully extended configuration, not as they would appear when the aircraft is at rest on the ground.

The longer strut shown at right is stock from the box. To make the shorter preferred version, remove the shock strut and compress the oleo. It would also be advantageous to use a short length of wire when joining the struts in their new position.

Other small touches that help to make your model a standout are the actuating rods for the inboard main doors and tailwheel doors, drilled out guns and pitot tube, and an antenna of monofilament or stretched sprue.

The inter-cooler doors have also been thinned down to provide a more realistic appearance.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Other small touches that help to make your model a standout  are the actuating rods for the inboard main doors and tailwheel  doors. The rods were cut from .015 music wire.

Actuating rods of .015 music wire were installed in the  tailwheel doors. Also note the thinned inter-cooler doors and replacement of channel-tread tire with a more conventional  type.


Painting and Markings


Color scheme is Neutral Gray overall with Medium Green 42 pattern on the uppersurface. Those colors were matched with the old Scalecrafters Neutral Gray and Floquil Coach Green. Fuselage National Insignia were taken from an A.I.R. sheet, while the upper left wing and both underside National Insignia were taken frm a 1/32nd Revell Corsair kit.



Codes are made up from assorted white letters and numbers; the yellow tail number is Micro Decal and the Category "E" name is written with yellow paint on clear decal stock which is then positioned normally.

Before installing the sliding section of the canopy and after the decals have dried for about 24 hours, the entire model can be oversprayed with Floquil's Clear Flat.


Modelling the P-47 Thunderbolt
Osprey Modelling 11

Author: Brett Green
US Price:
UK Price: £12.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date:
 July 25, 2004
Details: 80 pages; ISBN: 1841767956
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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2004 by Richard Marmo
Page Created 26 September, 2004
Last Updated 26 September, 2004

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