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Tamiya 1/48 P-47D-5 Thunderbolt Build Review

By Kelly Jamison

Date of Review July 2006 Manufacturer Tamiya
Subject P-47D-5 Thunderbolt Scale 1/48
Kit Number 61086 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Fantastic engineering, quick build. No aftermarket necessary. Cons Price is getting up there!
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $45.00


The mighty Thunderbolt is arguably one of the greatest fighters the United States ever produced. The Thunderbolt made some of our top aces of some of our most talented aviators in both theaters of operation. Names like Gabreski, Kerby, Schilling, Eagleston and R.S. Johnston are common names attached to the “Jug”. It’s place in history is set.

Research material on the P-47 is everywhere. I will list a few easy to obtain books and a few hard to find but must have books on this subject. A quick internet search or a trip to or Barnes and Noble will get you going in the right direction.

The Project

Like many of us, work and family life seem to cut in deeply into our modeling time. I was looking for a subject that fills a hole in my collection and a quick build without a lot of scratch building or resin corrections. I had heard a lot of good info on the Tamiya P-47D Razorback and had a few in my stash. So the choice was made.


The box is Tamiya’s usual sturdy construction with that magnificent artwork that we have come to expect from the Tamigawa crowd. The trees are individually wrapped and very well protected with the clear pieces wrapped and inside the fuselage (Tree E) bag. The decals are the last thing below the instruction sheet for extra protection. They have a wax paper cover to give them even more protection from scuffing. Tamiya has come a long way in their decals over the years. They are very well printed but a bit on the thick side for my taste. The whites are opaque and the stenciling is very well done and accurate to boot. They are very useable. Matter of fact I ended up using Mahurin’s P-47D-5.

The Build


This review is a bit of a departure for me in that I did not do any in progress photos. I believe a picture is worth a thousand words especially when talking about complex little bits and pieces. I wanted to build something fast and enjoy it on that personal level the way we should be building models and not worrying about deadlines, lighting, or cameras.

After finishing the build I can say definitively that in progress photos are not necessary. If you have even basic skills, this kit is for you. It is just a wonderful build. I really had fun. The engineering is top notch and each stage of the build went off with no problems at all. I thought the engineering on the gun barrels is amazing. I like the way they tackled the wing construction and flaps.


Most P-47’s were parked with their flaps in the up position through checklist steps. There are a few pictures of the flaps down but that was usually due to maintenance action being done prior to engine start. This is a rule of thumb but not law by any measure. Make sure and put the small attaching tabs in the flaps prior to sandwiching them together.

Throughout the build you will have to make a few decisions as to how you want to build your model. If you do Lt Frank Klibbe’s “Little Chief” you will be choosing all the step “A” options for a P-47D-15 and Bud Mahurin’s P-47D-5 for option “B”. Some parts will need to be added and some parts will be deleted from the assembly. Follow your instructions and you will not go wrong.


If you are interested in aftermarket cockpits for this plane, I think you are wasting your money. Decals, wheels and weapon stores I could see but the cockpit is just so well done your energy could be spent somewhere else.

The plastic reacted well to Tamiya liquid glue, (go figure!) so that is what I used throughout the build. There are many companies that make wonderful paint and there are many different ways you can go about painting the plane. Choose your scheme and have a blast. Tamiya uses a color paint numbering system which drives me crazy at times. Fortunately the colors are pretty straight forward and no mixing is needed unless you want to make custom colors.


Assembly and paint was a joy. I really like the nylon bushing used in the engine to hold the propeller. It gives you the ability of taking the prop off for transporting your masterpiece to the next contest. The canopy glass is crystal clear and thin. It fits with precision onto the fuselage and can be posed open or closed. Why you would want to close the canopy, I don’t know but to each his own. No special skills or tools are needed. I have seen models that had the rivets completely scribed in and it looks stunning but not necessary to pull off a good looking kit. Again this is a blank slate for you to do your artistic skills a good workout without wasting time in the assembly stage.

My one downfall on this kit was the 108Gal drop tank. By cleaning up the seam, I ruined any detail that was there. A quick order to my favorite online hobby store and some resin tanks were on their way. They just did not make it in time for the photographs. You can order many more aftermarket parts like cowl flaps and upgrade kits for engines and external stores.



My final comment on this kit is that it is just wonderful. I enjoyed every moment of the build. It came together so fast and needed almost no sanding. Tamiya has hit another home run with this kit and it is highly recommended. There are a few drawbacks but this is nit-picking. I don’t like the way the engine cowl is cast injected. It sets you up for scaring and lots of work if you do not cut it from the tree correctly. The decals, although very good, were thick and needed a few coats of straight Solva-Set to get down properly. And the final drawback on this kit is the cost. This kit can be found at a reasonable cost but I have seen it as high as 47 bucks retail. I can tell you the engineering is what you pay for and you get what you pay for in this kit.

Build it, enjoy it, and display it proudly on your shelf. After you build one, you will want to do another and another. I am hunting for a P-47M as we speak. One can hope that Tamiya will grace us with a P-47N one day. I hope my patience pays off.



  • P-47D Online Reference
  • Osprey Aviation Elite #2 56th Fighter Group by Roger A Freeman ISBN 1-84176-047-1
  • Detail & Scale Aviation Publications P-47 Thunderbolt by Bert Kinzey ISBN 1-888974-07-9
  • Squadron/Signal Publications Thunderbolt in the Pacific Theater by Ernest R McDowell ISBN 0-89747-398-1
  • Squadron/Signal Publications Thunderbolt in the European Theater by Ernest R McDowell ISBN 0-89747-393-0
  • Classic Colours #3 American Eagles P-47 Thunderbolt units of the Eighth Air Force by Roger A Freeman ISBN 1-903223-18-0
  • Widewing Publications Republic’s P-47 Thunderbolt From Seversky to Victory by Warren M. Bodie ISBN 0-9629359-1-3