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Thunderbolt Kit

AMT/ERTL 1/48 P-47D Thunderbolt Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review December 2007 Manufacturer AMT/ERTL
Subject Republic P-47D Thunderbolt Scale 1/48
Kit Number 8886 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Great subject Cons Control surfaces and cockpit transparency molded solid. No mention of what squadrons the 3 scheme options represent
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

Thunderbolt Kit
Thunderbolt Kit
Thunderbolt Kit
Thunderbolt Kit
Thunderbolt Kit

The P-47 was an answer to a need for a long range fighter to escort bombers going into Germany during WWII. It was a descendant of the Seversky P-35 that won the U.S. Army Air Corps pursuit competition, along with the Curtis P-36 in June of 1936. Designed by the Russian emigré team of Alexander P. Seversky and Alexander Kartvelli, the Thunderbolt went on to become one of the top fighters of the USAAF. Seversky, who had been a Russian naval aviation ace in the First World War, became a Major in the U.S. Army Air Corps, an associate of General Billy Mitchell, and a leading proponent of air power. He later founded the Seversky Aircraft Corp., which later became Republic Aviation of Farmingdale, NY.

Fondly called the “Jug”, the P-47 was the heaviest fighter of WWII. It served primarily in the European Theater although some of them saw service in the Pacific. With long-range drop tanks, the Jug could escort the big friends, B-17’s and B-24’s, all the way to Berlin, providing much needed protection from the FW-190’s of the Luftwaffe. The large radial engine made by Pratt & Whitney somewhat dictated the size of the fuselage, along with the need for a large fuel supply.

The toughness of the P-47 can best be demonstrated by the following true story: Lieutenant Robert S. Johnson was nursing his P-47 home after a dog-fight with the Luftwaffe’s best, the “Abbeville Boys”. He had been flying “Ramrod” escort mission for some B-17 Flying Fortresses. The Jug was on fire, the canopy was gone and smoke, hydraulic fluid and oil were spraying into the cockpit from a bullet spattered engine. Johnson had wounds to his nose and thigh, his instrument panel was smashed and his goggles were gone. The engine fluids and smoke in the cockpit compounded his problems. His first instinct was to head for Spain. Miraculously however, the crippled P-47 still responded to the controls and he decided to ditch in the English Channel and hope for a pickup.

Limping along, he suddenly became aware of company in the European skies. Closing up from 4 O’clock was a gleaming yellow-nosed Focke Wulfe 190. Unable to fight, the sluggish response of the battered P-47 making it impossible to evade, Johnson scrunched down behind the armor plate to his back. A rain of .30 caliber bullets peppered the shuddering P-47 like hail stones through a paper kite. The rounds from the 20 mm cannon rocked the already crippled aircraft. Three times the FW-190 attacked the lumbering Jug and still could not bring him down. The frustrated German flyer then pulled alongside the wounded P-47, waggled his wings in salute and flew away, leaving the smoking P-47 to drone on through the empty sky. After living through the German attack, Johnson decided that he would try for his home base at Mareston in England.

His luck held, and he landed despite sloppy controls, a failing engine and no brakes on his battered landing gear. After being pulled from his battered beast, Johnson surveyed the P-47. He, and those with him, couldn’t believe what they saw. There were 20 holes from the FW-190’s 20 mm cannon, the .30 caliber guns had put literally hundreds of holes throughout the plane including five in the propeller and the lower half of the rudder was completely shot away. One tough bird indeed…and so was Lt. Johnson. By wars end, he was both an ace with 28 kills to his credit and a Major.

The kit is a repackaged Arii/Otaki release that comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art shows a P-47 that has just downed a Bf-109G. It is in bare metal with a red nose and yellow rudder. There are 25 German kill marks under the cockpit. The words “Penrod and Sam” is on the nose in cursic script. The tail serial number is 225512 and the fuselage code is LM (star) Q in black. This is the mount of Lt. Robert S. Johnson, then with the 62nd Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force (whose story is above). A side panels shows four color photos of a finished model in this scheme at different angles.

Inside the box is a large sealed cello bag that holds everything but the instructions and a form to subscribe to the “Blueprinter” newsletter. This newsletter was always 95% about car models and never much interested me to subscribe to it.

The cello bag holds 3 medium gray trees of parts, the single clear cockpit transparency and the large decal sheet.

The instructions consist of a single sheet of 17 ½” x 7 ½” pages, that it has been accordion folded into. It is six pages long then.

Page one begins with the history of the P-47 in English, this is followed by the first two assembly step drawings.

Page two begins with decal application instructions and some general warnings of hazards you may encounter. Ertl’s address is in the middle of the page and below that are assembly steps 3 and 5.

Page three begins with parts trees drawings followed by assembly steps 4 to 7.

Pages four and five give 6 more assembly steps, for a grand total of 13.

Page 6  shows the illustrations for three marking and camouflage schemes.

  • Lt. Robert S. Johnson’s plane (already described above)
  • A P-47 from the No. 73 British Training Group, Egypt 1944. It has the fuselage number 18 and a fuselage band in white. The black serial number HD184 and an ace of spades design on the cowling. It is in a wave pattern of dark green and tan above and medium gray below
  • A P-47 that was flown by Col. Jack Prise, the 8th Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force. It has a white horizontal stripe around the rudder with the serial no. 274641 below that in yellow. It carries the fuselage code WZ (star)Z in white. Has five German kill marks below the canopy and has a hillbilly riding two bolts of lightning with the words “Feather Merchant” below him

The letter A medium gray parts tree holds: the cowling halves, horizontal tail surfaces and the fuselage halves. Control surfaces are all molded in. (6 parts)

The letter B medium gray parts tree holds: the upper and lower wing halves. Since the lower wing parts are not a one piece full span, you will have to watch to get the dihedral right when assembling the wings. (4 parts).

The letter C medium gray parts tree holds: the engine, landing gear legs and doors, tires, tail wheel, propeller, ground crewman figure, drop tanks and their mounts, cockpit interior parts, etc. (55 parts)

The single cockpit transparency part is next. Since this is all in one piece, surgery would have to be done to show the cockpit open.

The large decal sheet, instructions and the Blueprinter subscription blank complete the kit’s contents.

This is one nice model kit, although it is about 30 years old now. Detail is engraved type. There are numerous P-47 kits around in all the popular scales and the aftermarket boys seem to have something to go on all of them.

I bought my kit at the Ertl factory discount store years ago for a paltry $4.25. 1/48th scale kits of the P-47 today go for much more I’m afraid. Doggone inflation!