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P-47D Kit

Hobby Boss 1/48 P-47D Thunderbolt Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2012 Manufacturer Hobby Boss
Subject P-47D Thunderbolt Scale 1/48
Kit Number 85804 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy assembly Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $22.99

First Look

P-47D Kit
P-47D Kit
P-47D 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.

When this kit arrived, I immediately noticed the subtitle 'Easy Assembly Authentic Kit' subtitle on the box. When you think Hobby Boss (or Trumpeter), you don't think of their kits as 'easy assembly' as they are typically very detailed and intricate works of kit engineering. I was curious how this new series was going to work.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on four parts trees, plus a small clear tree containing the canopy/windscreen. No photo-etched or other multimedia parts are included. You can see from the parts layout that this is a simple kit alright, and the instructions confirm this as there are only four assembly steps. This is not a snap-tite kit as glue is definitely required with the exception of the fuselage halves - they have a very strong friction lock that trap the cockpit and tailwheel assemblies in place and I don't think it will come loose again after the fuselage halves are pressed together.

The cockpit is simple but still has some nice details to start with. If someone would add an Eduard color-photo etch set in there, the interior would really be sharp but you won't see that much of the details as the canopy is molded closed in this kit. As an essential part of the theme of this kit, options are kept to a minimum to keep the parts count and complexity of the model to a basic level.

Oh yes, one mistake that some companies make with the P-47 is the gun placement. There are eight .50 caliber machine guns on the Thunderbolt and unlike any other fighter I'm aware of, these are mounted in the wings so that they are all the same height to the ground. This means that the outer guns will portrude out slightly below the leading edge of the wing while the inboard guns portrude out above the leading edge. Hobby Boss captured this detail correctly (nice job!).

Decals are provided for two examples:

  • P-47D-30-RA, 44-32773, 531 FS/406 FG, 4P-S, 'Big Ass Bird II', as flown by Capt. Howard Parks
  • P-47D-25-RE, 42-26418, 61 FS/56 FG, HV-A, as flown by Lt.Col. Francis Gabreski

Hobby Boss has rendered their first easy-to-build kit in 1/48 scale, not to say that their other kits are difficult, this kit is truly an inexpensive entry-level glue-together model that is ideal for modelers coming back into the hobby or someone that just wants a quick weekend project that won't swamp you with lots of small parts. Of course I had to see for myself, so you can check out the quick-build of this kit here.

My sincere thanks to Squadron Mail Order for this review sample!