Tamiya 1/48 P-47M Thunderbolt Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||January 2006||Manufacturer||Tamiya|
|Kit Number||61096||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||First full kit of the P-47M in this scale||Cons|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$45.00|
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.
While the bubble-top was introduced with the Block 25 P-47Ds, the P-47M was the sport model - stripped of weight and given additional horsepower to be able to chase the V-1 buzz bombs, though by the time these faster Thunderbolts arrived in-theater, the V-1 threat was all-but-gone. The P-47N saw longer wings and additional improvements to serve over the vast overwater battlefields of the Pacific theater.
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.
To up the ante, Tamiya has released their latest Thunderbolt in uncharted territory - the P-47M. To date, the only way to render a P-47M was to modify a P-47D kit with aftermarket accessories.
Molded in medium gray styrene, the Tamiya kit is presented on six parts trees (duplicate trees not shown) as well as a single clear tree with the windscreen, canopy, gun sights, and light lenses.
The kit is essentially identical to the earlier P-47 releases with the exception of a new parts tree that contains the P-47M unique parts. These include a new gearbox front for the engine, a new cockpit tub, a new rear dorsal fuselage deck with new vertical stabilizer and fin filet, and different inserts for the lower wing wheel well contours.
Assembly of this kit is like its earlier iterations, the fit should be trouble-free, but if you take a little extra time to dry-fit the parts before gluing, you should have virtually no seams to fill.
Decals are provided for three colorful 56th Fighter Group examples:
- P-47M, 44-21108, HV-Z, 61 FS/56 FG, as flown by Capt Witold Lanowski
- P-47M, 44-21116, HV-J, 61 FS/56 FG, as flown by Lt Russell Kyler
- P-47M, 44-21112, UN-Z, 63 FS/56 FG, as flown by Major George Bostwick
As you can see in the images, the decals are provided on two decal sheets and include a complete set of maintenance stencils for the airframe. The nose art for Lt Kyler's aircraft comes in two versions, a lady in a blue blouse or the same lady in a yellow blouse, depending on the references you're using.
This is another nice Thunderbolt installment in the P-47 family tree which, as I mentioned earlier, has not been offered in this scale as a full-production kit. It makes you wonder if Tamiya is going to take the step to make the best P-47N kit as well.
This kit is definitely recommended and you'll want a few of these as they are the recipients of some of the most colorful camouflage flown by any fighter group in the war.