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P-47D Thunderbolt

by Flavio da Fonseca


P-47D Thunderbolt


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Brazil entered WWII in the final years of the conflict, in 1944.

Two arms of the Brazilian Armed Forces were sent to Italy: the Força Expedicionaria Brasileira (Brazilian expeditionary Force), from the Brazilian Army; and the 1º Grupo de Aviação de Caça (1st Brazilian Fighter Squadron – 1st BFS), from the Brazilian Air Force (or FAB, from the portuguese name).

The 1st BFS, consisting of 350 crew and 43 pilots, was sent to Livorno, Italy, on October 1944, where it became part of the 350th USAAF Fighter Group. The 350th was subordinated to the 62nd Fighter Wing, XXII Tactical Air Command, 12th USAAF. At that time, the 350th was made up of three squadrons and the 1st BFS became its 4th squadron, operating from the Tarquinia air base. Because P-47D Thunderbolt was the standard equipment used by the 350th, that was the chosen aircraft to equip the 1st BFS, and not the P-51D Mustang.

Initially, the Brazilian P–47s were finished in standard US fighter colors, olive-drab on top surfaces over neutral gray on the undersurfaces (exception made for those aircraft of the commander and operations officer which were finished in natural metal and olive-drab anti-glare panels). The aircraft code (flight letter-aircraft number) was painted in white letters over the cowling, and the badge of the Group was painted after the engine cowling. The Badge consists of a caped and armed ostrich over a red sky (see attached badge figure), and was designed while the Squadron was traveling to Italy aboard the transport ship UST Colombie, by a group of its pilots. The choice of an ostrich to represent the pilots is at least curious: prior to their departure to Italy, many pilots went to the US for training. During their stay, they got acquainted to American military food: baked beans, powder eggs and powder milk, etc. When they came back to Brazil, one of their commanders called them “ostriches” because they were able to eat such “junk food”. The nickname caught.


The National insignia was initially the FAB star, in four positions on the aircraft, but after a few problems of misidentification (some airplanes were shot at by allied fighters), a blue disc and bars were painted around the star, to make it similar to the USAAF insignia. The original star was retained on the right wing (as can be seen in the featured model).

Although the Brazilian pilots were trained as fighters, the 1st BFS became a fighter-bomber unit in Italy, and its missions were mostly armed reconnaissance and “free-hunt” sorties, giving air support for the US 5th Army, to which the Brazilian Expeditionary Force was attached. By April, 1945, the group of pilots had been reduced to 24, some were KIA, injured and others were taken as POWs. Every pilot flew an average of 2 missions a day, and at the end of the war the group had flown 445 missions, 2,550 individual sorties and 5,465 combat flight hours. They achieved outstanding efficacy, and between 6 to 29 April 1945, although flying only 5% of the total missions carried out by the 350th, the FBS was responsible for the destruction of 85% of the ammunition depots destroyed by the 350th, 36% of the fuel depots, 28% of the bridges, 15% of motor vehicles and 10% of horse-drawn vehicles. Such achievements rendered the 1st BFS the Presidential Unit Citation (Air Force), given by the US Government. Apart from other few USAF units, only the 1st BFS and two Royal Australian Air Force units - Nos. 2 and 13 Squadrons - have received this citation.

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Academy's 1/48 Scale P-47D


This is the Academy/HTC 1/48 Republic P-47D Thunderbolt (a very limited edition). The model depicts the aircraft flown by Cpt. Fortunato de Oliveira, with 56 missions. It was basically built straight from the box, with a few modifications.

Overall, the Academy model has nice engraved panel lines and a good fit (fill with putty was only eventually necessary). The cockpit was not particularly detailed; therefore I am not going to describe it. For painting, I started by pre-shading and then priming the model with Testor’s neutral gray. I should point out that I darkened it a little bit with flat-black because the gray undersides looked really darker in the color photography that I had as reference. After priming, the upper surfaces were sprayed with Testor’s olive-drab. The green-yellow rudder was painted afterwards.

Weathering was done with a wash of brown artist’s oil, for the panel lines and oil/fuel drips. Black pastel was used to represent exhaust and cannon stains, as well as dirty parts on the cockpit access (root of the wings and fuselage) and cannon compartment covers. Paint chipping was done using silver enamel applied with a sharpened toothpick. Everything was sealed in with several layers of flat lacquer.


One flaw to the kit was the decals. They were a little too thick and opaque, and the translucent edges of individual decals can be seen in many of the pictures. I tried to smooth them with semi-gloss coats, then flat coats, but nothing really worked. Then I realized that I should have cut the edges of before applying the decals. I guess was a bit too late…

Extra details include antenna (from stretched sprue), break lines, seatbelts (made from tape) and a new pitot tube made from brass wire (not because I think it is better this way, but because I just lost the original…)

The model was recently finished and the date on some of the photographs is not correct. I forgot to set the date on my camera… that happens when you’re excitedly taking pictures late at nigh after you just finished the plane…



Additional Images


Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2003 by Flavio da Fonseca
Page Created 20 August, 2003
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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