Tamiya 1/48 P-47D Thunderbolt Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|Nicest kit of the P-47D in this scale
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. Initially, the P-47 was designed with the typical streamlined cockpit of the day before the upper deck was resigned with a bubble canopy atop the fuselage providing 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.
The bubble-top was introduced with the Block 25 P-47Ds which featured a cut down rear deck and a teardrop canopy to provide the pilot with excellent all-round visibility.
Tamiya's P-47 kits are my favorite of this type and are in my opinion the best P-47 kits in any scale to date. The Hasegawa Thunderbolts are not bad either, but I find the fit and options in the box to be better with the Tamiya kit. With Trumpeter and Hasegawa deciding to tackle the 1/32 Thunderbolt, the title of "King of the Hill" could change, but I think Tamiya won't have any problems retaining the best in 1/48 title.
The first entry by Tamiya into the 1/48 Thunderbolt battle was with their stunning early P-47D Razorback (see a build-up of this kit here). This was next and featured the revised fuselage and bubble canopy.
Molded in medium gray styrene, the Tamiya kit is presented on five parts trees (duplicate trees not shown) as well as a single clear tree with the windscreen, canopy, gun sights, and light lenses.
The kit features a nicely detailed cockpit. You can go aftemarket if you'd like, but this one is nice out of the box! The cockpit tub and a wing mainspar assembly are trapped between the fuselage halves. The mainspar provides a solid mount for the wings that leave no guessing about dihedral.
The engine is also well-done and will look good if properly painted and weathered. Tamiya molds the propeller in a unique manner that are assembled in halves. Two types of propellers are provided so check your references to see which one was hung on the front of your aircraft.
The kit also provides an optional seated pilot should you wish to crew up your Thunderbolt.
External options include a pair of paper fuel tanks, the flat centerline tank, bazooka rocket launcher tubes, and standard 500lb bombs.
Oh yes, one of the more subtle mistakes made by some P-47 kit makers (and full-scale aircraft restorers) is the arrangement of the wing guns. If you look at the restored Thunderbolts in this walk around, you'll see that they arrange the guns level to the wing leading edge. On the production aircraft, the guns were actually installed level to the ground. This meant the exit holes in the wing leading edge were higher inboard than outboard. This is a subtle detail, but once you see it, you'll appreciate it when companies like Tamiya get this right.
Decals are provided for two examples:
- P-47D, 42-26551, WZ-P, 84 FS/78 FG, RAF Duxford, 1944, as flown by LtCol Benjamin Mayo
- P-47D, 42-26637, VM-P, 551 FTS/495 FTG, Mount Farm AB, 1944
As you can see in the image, the decals include post-D-Day stripes, disctinctive aircraft markings, and a nice array of maintenance stenciling as well.
This is another nice Thunderbolt installment in the P-47 family tree. Tamiya's rendition of the Thunderbolt is my favorite in 1/48 scale. This kit is definitely recommended and you'll want a few of these as the aftermarket decal companies have produced dozens of colorful markings for this subject.