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 North Carolina Air National Guard
The Prop Fighters Part One:

A Tarheel T-Bolt

Feb. 1948-Dec. 1949

by Joe Lyons



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The Guard and the Air Guard are much in the news of late. The US National Guard is a unique military formation under the control of the various states, except when “federalized.” The Air Guard dates back to the formation of the US Air Force in the immediate post-war era.  On May 24 1946 the 360th Fighter Squadron, a 1st AF unit formed in December 1942, was redesignated the 156th Fighter Squadron and allocated to the North Carolina National Guard. In March 1948, the year after the creation of the United States Air Force, the 156th was extended federal recognition and the North Carolina Air National Guard was born. The mission aircraft was the P-47 Thunderbolt. NC ANG Jugs star in “Fighter Command,” an otherwise mediocre movie that has a lot of great T-bolt footage. 

The 156th was based at Morris Field (soon to become Douglas Airport) in Charlotte, NC. Part of my misspent youth was misspent in Charlotte, and the nearby airport provided many aviation experiences and memories.


The Airplane 

The P-47 was common ANG equipment in those days when there were thousands of almost new airplanes to stock the new units. The post-war active air force mostly kept P-51s for its prop fighter at the dawn of the jet age. There were a few P-47 units left in Europe for a while, but the big ‘Bolt had disappeared by the start of the Korean War. 

I have visited NC ANG headquarters in Charlotte and had a look at a year book-like collection of old photos, one of them providing the inspiration for this project. The subject is a P-47D-30-RA, serial number 433853, one of 1800 –30s built at Evansville. It’s probably a good bet that 433853 never went overseas. 

There are a rich variety of modeling references for the P-47s and, as one would expect, they sometimes offer differing opinions on things. Roger Freeman’s Ducimus book (reference e), “Republic Thunderbolt” provides the best synopsis of the evolution of the P-47 variants and it says of the P-47D-30-RA: 

                        Engine              R-2800-59
                        Propeller          Curtiss Electric C-642S-B 13’0” diameter
                        “Other data similar to P-47D-26-RE”
                        “Changes similar to P-47D-30-RE” 

From the –26 the only significant thing to note is that it’s a bubbletop 

From the –30-RE, zero-length rocket rails are added, and there is a different model number Curtiss 13’0” prop. 

Zero Length Rocket rails 

Sources differ on when these got to production “D” models. Freeman says in Block 30, reference b says Block 40, with Block 30s getting retrofit kits per reference g. Not sure who to believe: I have found ONE photo of a post-war –30 with rails, and then only two per wing. Plus, only a couple of post-war shots with –40s with rails, and many without. Many photos of wartime and post-war –30s without rails. 

Dorsal Fin 

Everyone agrees these show up in production with the D-40,  -30s being retrofitted. Photos confirm; haven’t found one –30 without it. 

Ring and Bead Sight 

One source (reference b) that talks about this says, it disappeared with the –30. However reference h has a photo of a preserved as-is not restored –30 showing it installed.




Brett Green’s marvelous book on the P-47 (reference g) only looks in detail at what he calls the “modern” 1:48 releases, although the groundbreaking Monogram kits get honorable mention. This model is of course the kit that is older than my children, first built by me in bubbletop form in 1973. It is said to be somewhat inaccurate in the placement of the wing, a problem apparently fixed in the razorback release. I built it anyway, then and now. The kit is Monogram #5487 with the P/E set. 

The kit is OOB with the following additions: 

  1. TD 48483 resin cockpit set intended for the Academy kit
  2. Eduard P/E set #48240 intended for the Academy kit. (Selected pieces)
  3. Medallion dorsal fin
  4. Medallion Curtiss 13’ Prop (I believe this to be the asymmetrical version, fourth and last in the P-47 prop saga)
  5. Medallion resin flaps. This aftermarket set also came with control surfaces that were not used.
  6. Scratch-built underwing compressibility flaps
  7. Zero-length rocket rails from a Hasegawa P-51 or F4U (forget which), 2 per wing inboard of the stores pylon.
  8. CMK aftermarket wingtip lights.
  9. Cutting Edge Mk 8 gun sight replacing the kit sight, plus Eduard ring and bead sight.
  10. Wire antenna, fin to fuselage, for the Detrola DF receiver.
  11.  Copper wire used for brake lines.
  12.  True Detail six-spoke wheels
  13.  25 thou steel wire to represent the fuselage stores sway braces.
  14.  Flap hinges reproduced with card stock.

1. Engine: Used the Medallion white metal Curtiss prop in lieu of the kit Hamilton Standard Prop. Accessorized the engine with Eduard P/E. 

2. Cockpit: Interior fuselage rib detail in the way of the cockpit removed. Added the TD cockpit, using the kit P/E rudder pedals and support. Filled in the floor corrugations. Added scratch hydraulic pump handle. Added Eduard P/E tail wheel lock, and port and starboard cockpit lights. Added card stock rear bulkhead behind seat.



Replaced kit representation of Mk 8 gun sight reflector with Cutting Edge substitute. Installed the Eduard ring sight attached to the reflector sight, and the accompanying external bead fore sight.

“Getting Anal About Radio Controls….” This is for those whose AMS needs are no longer being met merely by fixating on wheel wells. Brett notes there are five cockpit sets out there for the P-47, mostly for the “D,” and he displays photos of some of them, plus photos of OOB cockpits as well.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

 “And your point is…?” you ask. I say that the radio controls on the starboard side of cockpit of these sets (less the one for the P-47N) are not accurate for any but the P-47C, because they are of the SRC-274-N radio(s), which were replaced by the VHF SRC-522-A (a.k.a. RAF TR 1143). The cockpit controllers were quite different, being three identical side-by-side units for the SRC-274 and one for the SRC-522. The True Details set #48483 is alleged to be for the block -30/40 aircraft, per Brett, but the set itself advertises as for the P-47D-25. It has the earlier controls and a corrugated floor. Mine may be an earlier release with the same number. 

3. Exhausts: Thinned out the waste gates up front, and the intercooler exhaust flaps back aft. 

4. Fin: Cut out a wedge at the base of the fin for the Medallion dorsal fin, which was glued in place and faired in with putty.



Painting and Markings


Exterior:         The overall NMF is Alcad II over a base coat of Plasti-Cote No. 305 silver base coat auto lacquer. The anti-glare area is Testor’s MM Olive Drab. The supercharging housing is done with MM Exhaust metalizer, and the surrounding panel in Polly Scale flat aluminum. Wing leading edges, the gun and ammunition bay panels and the control surfaces are MM Non-Buffing Aluminum metalizer.  Pactra Yellow is used for the cowl ring. Control surface hinge lines, cowl flaps, cowl panels and various vents were picked out with a Pigma Micron 01 black marking pen.



Cockpit:          Reference h has some cockpit photos of an unrestored –30. This is good: all the talk of what is or is not Dull Dark Green and all the other “inside” greens of the era makes my head hurt. I think the closest approximation available out of a bottle or tin to what these photos show me is Humbrol Deck Green, an RN ship color.  

Other non-crew interior areas:          The color photos of Republic-built period P-47s in reference h show yellow Zinc Chromate for the inside of the gear doors, so Testor’s 1184 is used for these areas, the flap hinges, the inside of the cowl and the wheel wells. This is at variance with color photos of restored P-47s and, Brett has chosen Interior Green for his models. I respectfully disagree; see particularly the front covers of references d and h.

Markings:      Aircraft specific markings such as the radio call number, “NC NG,” and cowl number were done in Power Point and printed on an HP ink-jet printer. Post-1947 national insignia came from a Pro-Modeler decal sheet for the P-47N. A SuperScale P-47 Razorback decal sheet, #48-663, supplied stencils.

A Thunderbolt Comment 

I have no proof, but would opine that the Tarheel T-bolts were flown by at least by a few USAAF 8th AF veterans. I have a special admiration for those embattled P-47 pilots who, deep within hostile airspace in the fall of 1943 a long time before the fabled Mustangs appeared and always outnumbered at the point of contact, wrested control of the air from the Luftwaffe as they fought to defend B-17s a long way from home.  

After completing his first attack he turned and led his own flight back around the side of the bomber force to prepare for a second frontal attack. And that is when the sky fell in on Major Galland and his unit, for American fighters were suddenly all around them…Zemke knew that the B-17s were returning from a particularly dangerous mission and would need all the help his unit could give. He was always trying to squeeze a little more range out of the leaky, faulty drop tanks his P-47s had to rely on at that time and he somehow managed to find that fifteen extra miles of range which had just surprised the Germans. The American pilots arrived with every possible advantage. Their initial approach was from out of the sun, 5000 feet above the Germans and they actually flew over the scene of action before turning and deploying themselves in the manner in which Zemke had ordered – one squadron on either side of the last combat wing and one squadron to cover the next combat wing ahead…. The unsuspecting Germans did not see the American fighters sweep overhead and were thus doubly surprised when the P-47s turned and swooped down on them from out of the east…Major Galland’s body, in the remains of his fighter, was not found until nearly two months later…. Colonel Zemke led the 56th Fighter Group… deep into German-defended airspace and caught …an experienced German leader by surprise and at a tactical disadvantage.                                                                                    (Middlebrook) 



Thoughtful Luftwaffe commanders may have known it was not going to get any better: 

Despite these measures, attrition continued to take its toll. Especially damaging was the impact on the Luftwaffe’s aces in the fall of 1943.  The aces listed in Table 2 were in the van of a swelling number of the Luftwaffe’s best that fell in the battle for air superiority during the closing months of 1943. Together these twelve pilots had claimed 1160 Allied aircraft…. Many German fighter pilots learned a fatal lesson over the next six months: combat experience and tactics learned on the Eastern Front were of only limited use against superbly trained and equipped American pilots on the Western Front.

                                                                        (Mcfarland and Newton) 

In the fall of 1943 most of the Luftwaffe attrition in the great daylight air battles over Germany can be credited to often-maligned the P-47. At the time, no other allied fighter was capable of doing this: not one.


All photos are either that of the author, or in the public domain.




a.                   Army Air Forces (1943). Pilot’s Flight Operation Instructions P-47B, -C, -D and –G Airplanes [Technical Order No. 01-065BC-1). Fairfield, OH: Air Service Command. [Reprinted by Aviation Publications]

b.                  Davis, L (1984). P-47 Thunderbolt in Action. Carrollton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications.

c.                   Drendel, L. (1997). P-47 Thunderbolt Walk Around. Carrollton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications.

d.                  Ethell, J. (1983). American Warplanes World War Two-Korea Volume I. London: Arms and Armour Press.

e.                   Freeman, R. (1990). The Mighty Eighth War Diary. Oceloa, WI: Motorbooks International.

f.                    Freeman, R. Republic Thunderbolt. London: Ducimus Books.

g.                   Green, B (2004). Modelling the P-47 Thunderbolt. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing.

h.                   Kinzey, B (1998). P-47 Thunderbolt in Detail & Scale. Carrollton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications.

i.                     McFarland, S and Newton, W. (1991). To Command the Sky the Battle for Air Superiority over Germany, 1942-1944. Washington: The Smithsonian Institution.

j.                    Middlebrook, M (1985). The Schweinfurt-Regensburg Mission American Raids on 17 August 1943.  New York: Penguin Books.

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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Text Copyright © 2005 by Joe Lyons
Images by USN or Joe Lyons
Page Created 17 September, 2005
Last Updated 17 September, 2005

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