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P-47C Thunderbolt

by Scott Brown


P-47C Thunderbolt

images by John Greiner

Tamiya's 1/48 scale P-47D Thunderbolt "Razorback" is available online from Squadron.com




This project began, as all of mine do, in a neurotic fit.

Mere moments after I opened the box of this kit, my mind started working, analyzing how I could alter it, and convert it. You see, I am infected with the affliction known as AMS (Advanced Modeler's Syndrome) I am not satisfied to build the version that comes in the box....no, you see I must have the earlier, or later version of whatever it is. I think maybe it's genetic or something.

Anyway, of course, after opening the finest plastic model that has yet been created, my feverish brain said to me "C model....build a C model".





That Cowl...

My knowledge of P-47s was somewhat limited, in that I could recognize one, say, in a group of P-51s. This did not deter me in the slightest. I knew from my limited reading that P-47 Cs did not have the 2 bottom cowl flaps. The Tamiya kit comes with 2 sets of cowl flaps, one open and one closed. This solved my problem. I decided that I would hack the 2 botton flaps off the closed set, glue them in place and fill them, then cut the 2 bottom flaps off of the open set, et voila, instant C model.

This worked out you see, because I had a set of Three Guys Replicas decals for Hub Zemke's planes. Hub flew a C model, and I liked the markings. The plan was coming together nicely.



So, I hacked and slashed on the cowl, and an hour later was rewarded with a nice C model cowl. Proud of my work, I headed straight for the HyperScale "Plane Talking" discussion group to announce my plans.


That Keel...

The first inkling of trouble came from Jennings Heilig, who asked innocently enough, "What are you planning to do with the keel?" I'm thinking "what on earth is he babbling about.....keel?" Soon, others joined in, and it was revealed that indeed, C models had not been produced with the ability to carry fuel tanks on the fuselage, and therefore were lacking the distinctive bulged bottom fuselage that covered the piping and rig necessary to carry tanks there. I never realized that there was a difference in the bottom fuselage, but sure enough, I had several P-47 books that show this clearly.

Okay, no biggie. I'm thinking "how noticeable can this be"

Well, it is a big deal. The C model fuselage runs straight from the tail smoothly to the cowl. No bulging at all. Now I am stuck. "Cripes, I already did the cowl, so I'm committed now." I took the fuselage halves and stared at them.....a loooong time. Soon, an idea hit. The plastic of the kit was not thick enough to accomplish the level of surgery required, so I'd have to fill it somehow.

I ran masking tape the length of the bottom seam, then filled it up with about 1/4 inch of super glue, hit it with accelerator, and wondered what the heck would happen. It worked. The bottom fuselage was filled up with super glue that was roughly flush with the bottom seam. I repeated the process for the other side. When the fuselage halves are glued together, it forms a fairly solid mass of glue.

Once everything was set, I began grinding off the keel with a Dremel motor tool. Once I had it roughly where I wanted it, I took some 320 grit sand paper and did my usual trick of gluing it to a piece of egg carton. I then started to work on the keel, trying to get it smooth and even. If you are careful, you can do this without involving the horizontal panel line that runs the length of the keel.



After a couple of hours sanding, it looked fairly straight, and I was pleased with it so far. The main problem was the myriad of tiny pin holes in the super glue, and dead spaces where there were bubbles. This problem was solved with a thick application of Mr. Surfacer 500 and some 600 grit wet 'n dry. Again, proud of myself, I posted to the DG the process I had used, whereupon I was asked wether or not the plane I was doing ever received the belly tank modification.

"What? Information useful to me a week ago!"

Yup, seems that the C models and early D models produced without the belly tank feature, were retrofitted with it soon after reaching the ETO. The plane I was doing in fact had received the modification......it even said so in the decal instructions. "Oh for the love of............"

After I peeled myself off the ceiling, I realized that I actually liked the smooth lines of my now much less jug-like jug.


Cockpit. And That Colour Debate...

So, on to the cockpit. I purposely left this until the last minute.

I have been justifiably accused of just doing the pit, then losing interest in the kit. The 50 or so completed cockpits in my collection that do not reside in completed models attest to this fact. "Okay", I'm thinking "This is a piece of cake" Everybody knows that P-47 cockpits are dull dark green. This is not a point of contention. Thus has it always been. So, on goes the dark green, and a few hours later, it's done. This is the best OTB pit I've ever seen. It's one of the best pits I've ever seen, period, and I am a resin junkie. I used my Waldron punch set to punch out the kit decal instruments and applied them on the kit panel in the bezels. A drop of Future on each one makes it look outstanding. I used a Jaguar seat and gunsight, and that's the only resin in the entire cockpit.



After admiring my handiwork, I struck out for the Plane Talking discussion group to boast and brag....only to run across a post by Lynn Ritger purporting to show a cockpit color for P-47s that isn't dark green.


Sure 'nuff, there is a photo of a C model with what looks like yellow zinc chromate on the rear wall of the cockpit. "WHAAAT?.........OH FOR THE LOVE OF........!" So, off goes the great P-47 cockpit color debate, only it's too late for me 'cause I'm already done with mine. I'm just astounded at this point that I'm really involved in a discussion of the cockpit color of a P-47. This project was supposed to have been easy-breezy, bada-bing, bada-boom, wham-bam thank-you ma'am, now I find myself embroiled in one of those storied color arguments. No matter, it's too late now, and there aren't 30 people on the planet who would know or care. There is still conjecture on this point, but I have seen enough evidence to cause me to believe that P-47 Cs and early Ds have yellow zinc chromate cockpits. My next one will be thus.


The Rest of the Kit...

The rest of the kit went flawlessly, and it is one of those viceless builds that you just enjoy working on. You can call me "assembler" all day long, but I just had a ball with this kit.



Painting and Markings


Soon, it came time for paint. I couldn't believe that this model was really ready for paint and I hadn't lost interest yet.

I looked at my colors, then headed to the Discussion Group to get some confirmation regarding what I was about to do. Is it ANA 613, is it 34087, I mean, how many colors of OD can there be? It's green and gray for cripes sake!

I chose Testor's Model Master ANA 613 because it looks like the dark, waxed green I am seeing in color photos. Gray is Model Master neutral gray, darkened a bit. I was sitting there fat, dumb and happy when I ran across a question about the color of the area behind the cockpit, under the canopy. I had always just assumed that it was dark green like the cockpit, but noooo!

Thus began the great "what's the color of the area behind the cockpit" brou-haha.....Sigh.

Again, much conjecture, but I am reasonably certain that the area is neutral gray, and so that color was sprayed on.



The painting and decaling had a few exciting moments, but all ended well. I use Testor's Metalizer sealer to gloss cote. I tried Future once, but despite the fact that it gave my house a nice, pleasant smell, I managed to get runs and glops in it. Metalizer sealer is Scott-proof, so that's what I go with. It is rock hard, and resists everything but straight Solva-set left on in puddles over night (ask me how I know this) This also attacks Future, so there is no advantage there.

The monotone of the OD was broken up by spraying a lightened (about 10%) OD in the middle of each panel. This seems easier to me that spraying a dark color on the panel lines, then trying to control how much paint you apply. I just ain't that talented.

I used Burnt Sienna oils thinned with Ronsonol lighter fluid to wash the lines and kinda grunge it up.

Flat coating is Pactra Acrylic Flat.....wonderful stuff. It is out of production, so I buy every bottle I run across. Polly Scale runs a very close second in terms of flat.

Final weathering is in the form of pastels for little streaks and some further panel lightening. I tend to keep such things conservative, having come up before the Verlinden method of hyper-stylized weathering took hold. Final assembly was saved until the day before a contest, and except for shooting the port formation light someplace in my room with a pair of tweezers, all went according to plan. I placed the last piece, the rear view mirror, at 4 am the morning of the San Antonio contest....when such things are destined to take place, and all was right with the world.

I had a completed model staring at me.





I had almost forgotten the feeling of pride and accomplishment that comes with finishing a model. It is a small thing, but it feels good.

The best part, for me anyway, was that the project had involved many hours of research and discussions with people who are as sick as I am. There are those here, and other places who insist that since things like accuracy and trying to get as close to the real thing as possible aren't important to them, it shouldn't be important to me. What they are missing is that the academic process involved in doing the research on something as minor as a cockpit color, at least for me, is part of the fun. It's not life or death, but the way I look at it, I am much richer in spirit for getting to discuss it with other people instead of just shutting out discussion and having the experience be a solitary one. I really enjoyed learning about P-47s and talking about it with the people at this site. It made it just that more satisfying, and my knowledge base has expanded.

I thank everybody who took the time to help me.



The piece isn't perfect, but to me it represents what is good about the community of HyperScale. The guys who jumped in and helped me all have a piece of themselves in this model. I will incorporate what I learned into another P-47. My plan is another C model, but I'm leaving the belly alone!

I hope you like it. I had a blast doing it. Thank you guys again for the assistance. Please feel free to post any comments or criticisms. I know Brett frowns on unsolicited nit picks, but if somebody knows something that I don't, I'd like to hear it, and it might help somebody else in the process.

Special thanks to Josh Bowling, who called me every day to bug me about my progress, and John Greiner who shot the photos.



Additional Images

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model and Text Copyright 2003 by Scott Brown
 Images Copyright 2003 by John Greiner
Page Created 14 March, 2003
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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