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P-47D Thunderbolt 'Gabreski' Kit

Academy 1/48 P-47D Thunderbolt 'Gabreski' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2010 Manufacturer Academy
Subject P-47D Thunderbolt 'Gabreski' Scale 1/48
Kit Number 12222 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Distinctive colors, Gabreski figure included, simple build Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $49.00

First Look

P-47D Thunderbolt 'Gabreski' Kit
P-47D Thunderbolt 'Gabreski' Kit
P-47D Thunderbolt 'Gabreski' Kit
P-47D Thunderbolt 'Gabreski' Kit
P-47D Thunderbolt 'Gabreski' Kit
P-47D Thunderbolt 'Gabreski' Kit
P-47D Thunderbolt 'Gabreski' Kit

The Republic P-47 first took shape as the Seversky P-35 before that company became Republic. The design was evolved through the P-43 Lancer before the requirements led to World War II's heaviest fighter, the P-47.

The P-47 was designed with the typical streamlined cockpit of the day before rearward visibility in aerial combat became a requirement. Later P-47s were redesigned with the rear upper deck cut down to facilitate a bubble canopy atop the fuselage which provided excellent all-round visibility. This new design was introduced part-way through P-47D production, which for whatever reason didn't warrant a new model designation.

P-47s were among the first fighters to accompany the USAAF over to Europe as the United States entered the war. While many fighter wings were quick to transition to the P-51 Mustang as soon as it was available, the 56th Fighter Group was one of the only organizations to refuse the Mustang and see the war through in their beloved Thunderbolts.

Academy has re-released their 1/48 P-47D Thunderbolt kit, this time in a limited edition that provides markings for Lt.Col. Francis 'Gabby' Gabreski, commander of the 61st Fighter Squadron/56th Fighter Group and the leading US fighter ace in Europe. The kit features commemorative box art and some nice stuff inside the box:

The kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on five parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. A separately packaged figure is also molded in light gray styrene representing Lt.Col. Gabreski. The layout of the kit is very straightforward and will pose no real challenge for the average modeler.

It is interesting to note that many folks overlooked the Academy Thunderbolts because while this is a nice kit, Hasegawa released their first Thunderbolts right after Academy and the spotlight was then on Hasegawa. That attention only lasted as long as it took Tamiya to get their first 1/48 P-47 to market and Tamiya won the day. Nevertheless, the Academy kit was less expensive than the other two and simpler to build.

One of the common mistakes that kit makers do with the P-47 are the machine gun holes on the leading edge of the wings. Many of these folks assume that the guns are aligned along the centerline of the wing, so they conform to the dihedral of the wing, just like the P-51. Not so - in fact Republic aligned the guns parallel to the horizontal axis of the aircraft. Academy got this detail right, and added the option for open gun bays so you can see the eight .50 caliber machine guns.

The two details that are common to the Tamiyagawa kits are positionable cowl flaps and landing flaps.

This release has one marking option:

  • P-47D-25-RE, 42-26418, 61 FS/56 FG, HV-A, Boxted, UK, June 1944, as flown by Lt.Col. Francis 'Gabby' Gabreski

The main decal sheet has the D-Day stripes for the top and bottom of the aircraft as they appeared on June 6th, whereas the upper markings were painted over shortly thereafter. The main sheet also provides the national markings, some of the distinctive markings for Gabreski's aircraft, and a nice set of maintenance stenciling. If you note the decals with the brown background, for some reason unknown to me, Academy had the squadron codes and a duplicate set of tail numbers produced as dry transfers.

This is a nice kit and it is a shame that this tooling was so quickly overshadowed by its two Japanese counterparts. Even so, this special edition has a suggested retail price that makes this kit about the same price as the still-available Tamiya kit (the Hasegawa kit appears to be out of production for the time being).

This kit is definitely recommended!

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!