it never saw combat, the P-47B was
relatively well used in the USA as a training airplane, and was the
of the more famous C and D razorback versions. In October 1944, the
Air Force received one single RP-47B-RE. As a war-weary aircraft, it
be used operationally. After a few flights, it was incorporated into
Technical Aviation School to serve as instructional equipment to ground
crews. It was so used until 1964 and ended up being sold as scrap in
1966. It was the only razorback among all BAF P-47s.
surprisingly, the P-47B was never translated into an inject kit form by
major manufacturer (until I finished this one...), for it has big
differences from the other versions. I
decided to have one in my 1/72 scale collection, but I knew in advance
would require a lot of work. Knowing that a lot of sanding was ahead of
me, I chose to put the Academy kit in my stash in this mission.
scale model of the P-47B is not just a matter of painting different markings on
any Razorback kit. The B had a fuselage eight inches (203 mm) shorter than its
more famous cousins as it did not have the quick engine change kit. Other major
identification features are the single deflector plate ahead of the exhaust
waste door and the antenna mast mounted at an angle. So my first step was to
remove approximately 3 mm of the fuselage. I tried to use panel lines as a guide to make a zig-zag cut, and then I
shaved the 3 mm off.
Before closing the fuselage, a new cockpit was
detailed and assembled to replace the kit’s one. I tried a different recipe to
simulate Republic’s characteristic Dull Dark Green used in the cockpits: I
airbrushed Interior Green first, and on top of it I applied a coat of
translucent blue-green color (the type used in Japanese aircraft interiors). It
worked like a charm.
The fuselage was closed, and I flooded the
interior of the belly area with gel super-glue. It was a necessary measure in
view of another identification feature of the P-47B: the characteristic belly
of the Thunderbolt is absent in the B version, so I had to sand the fuselage to
the correct shape. The super-glue shell inside avoided the occurrence of holes
or waffle-thin areas. The comparison to the P-47D fuselage exposes these
I started this project aware that although the
Academy kit is a good starting point for the conversion, it is too simple in
many details. I opted to sacrifice a Revell P-47D kit and use its landing gear
struts, wheel bay doors, engine, and other smaller details. I would graft them
into the Academy kit. The first was the tail wheel, inserted in a hole opened
in the fuselage. I also
copied the exhaust wastegate in resin and carved an eye-shaped hole to insert
it, because the original was removed during the fuselage surgery. Another common error in many
kits is the machine gun barrels aligned to the wing leading edge, instead of
the ground line. I removed the kit barrels and drilled new holes along the
And since I was at it, I addet the wingtip lights using the standard method and colored plastic.
Formation lights are absent in the kit, so I drilled their holes in the
corresponding position. They would be filled with UV resin later on.:
cowling is for a late C or D model, so the two lowest cowl flaps must
be removed, and the panel lines rescribed. Another detail omitted in
the kit part are the dzus fasteners which hold the engine panels. I
modified an empty drafting
pen to punch plastic oblongs that were glued over the cowling. After
was set, they were lightly sanded, resulting in a barely raised
method is much easier than scribing the fasteners, and alternates
details with the recessed panel lines of the kit, adding realism to the
model. The oil cooler exhausts were
scratchbuilt from brass sheets and secured in place with super-glue
major subassembly to tackle was the engine. As a fan of the P&W R-2800
engine, I wanted a better representation than the kit one, but I wasn't in the
mood to work with resin. The solution came from the Revell kit, which is very
good and has the correct magnetos for this version of the Thunderbolt. All I
did was to scratchbuilt a new harness and add plug wires.
After a careful painting, some weathering, and a dry
transfer placard I had a beautiful engine.
Finally, I had to modify the fuselage mount to graft the new engine in the
carved a slanted antenna mast, another particular feature of the P-47B, from an
aluminum rod. It would be installed later on during the project. A stronger
pitot tube was built from metal, and the gun barrels made from brass piping to
be inserted in the wing openings later on:
studying photos of P-47s, I came to the conclusion that Republic used a
different paint for their Dark Olive Drab 41 than other manufacturers. It seems
more green, and darkened considerably with time, as opposed to other aircraft
painted with the same color. Aiming for a very weary
painting finish, I played with pre-shading on both, upper and undersurfaces.
Thinner and water-based GSI paints were used for the camouflage (H for Hobby
Color and C for Mr. Color). I applied H330 as a base OD color. Dark spots and
retouches were airbrushed with C12. Everything was smoothed out with a thin coat
with C23, and highlighted with C23+C21. On the underside, as my interpretation
of an old Neutral Grey 43, I started with GSI H-53, then applied dark spots
with H-22, followed by H-32, and white. As a final touch, I airbrushed a
darkened tone of OD with the aid of stencil masks in order to simulate oil
stains, fuel spills, and alike. After painting the
yellow/red cowling colors, I faded them heavily by adding white to the colors
and misting them over the center of the panels.
This time I avoided covering the whole model
with a protective gloss varnish. Instead, I applied it only to the decal areas.
Talking about decals, this particular Thunderbolt had the 'fat' Brazilian AF
star, without the bars. I could not find a suitable decal sheet, so I had to
resource to decals of the 1st Brazilian FG, whose markings were applied
directly over the American insignia, and cut off the unwanted parts. I had to repaint the center
circles of the insignias with a lighter blue, though. Interestingly, the
Brazilian AF markings of s/n 416037 were painted on in USA, over the very
beaten camouflage, days before its transfer. That is why the markings on my
model are not weathered as the rest of the model. Upon arrival in Brazil,
someone painted the words ‘teco-teco’ (Portuguese slang for small propeller
aircraft) on the right side of the cowling. I made it with a laser printer.
And finally the model was ready for the weathering:
paints are impervious to oils and enamels, I applied the wash directly over the
camouflage, skipping the clear coat. That also made the finish an excellent
canvas to play with oils.
Being a battered airframe, I abused the weathering effects. Based on photos of
other aircraft from this batch, I assumed 416037 had serious paint chipping
problems, particularly along the wing root, given its relentless usage in
I wanted the
chipping to show both, the zinc chromate underneath the OD paint, and more
severe scuffing exposing the aluminum. Therefore I started the process by
applying zinc chromate along the panel lines crossings running through the wing
root, where mechanics and pilots would walk. This was done using a fine brush
and acrylic paint, so I could clean any mistake with a moistened cotton bud. Next, I spent some time
simulating the exposed aluminum. The basic chipping was done again by brush,
using the now extinct Citadel Chainmail acrylic paint. I then refined the
effect and applied small scratches using silver pencils. Once I was satisfied
with the result, I re-defined the panel lines with a dark brown paneliner. In
some places, green and brown pencils were used to further enhance the
weathering. Some areas also received smudges of various green oils.
I used the
same process to a smaller extent to simulate scratches and paint chipping on
the fuselage, around the cockpit, inspection hatches, and engine cowling. The
nice thing about mixing silver paint and pencils is that depending on the light
incidence, the chipping becomes more visible, while from other angles it is not
so glaring, Exactly what I see in period photos.
touches included streaking effects on the underside and what I call ‘airwash’ –
the application of dark brown along selected panel lines with a fine-tipped
airbrush to simulate dirt and grime accumulation. A splattering of very dark
brown oils enhanced the well-used aspect of the model.
evenings were necessary to finish other details, like the propeller,
and smaller parts. The
tail wheel and landing wheel struts were stolen from the Revell kit, as
the wheel bay doors, as these parts are better detailed than the ones
in the Academy
kit. The wheels are resin items from CMK. I had to scratchbuilt the
arms of the landing gear legs and doors, using telescoping metal
tubing, and several smaller details missing in all 1/72 scale that I
know. And by
the way, metal tubing is a great aid to align the wheel struts – a tip
learned from master modeler Paul Budzik.
With the last
items fixed in place, I could appreciate the result of the techniques used to
simulate a well-used airplane. Besides the techniques themselves, it is important to
keep in mind that weathering must always be in scale, too, like any other part
of the model. In 1/72 scale this may be a challenge.
tooke a while until I modified a Prieser figure and painted it to go
with the model. Just a simple wooden base to highlight the weathing and
voilá:I am pleased
to have a genuine P-47B in my collection. More than that, I tried some new techniques
during this project and it truly represents a departure from my usual methods.
Of course, by the time I was applying the decals, Dora Wings announced their new
P-47B in the scale for later this year. Oh, well...
A shorter article of this model was published in the Scale Aviation and Military Modeller Int. magazine, issue 611, Dec/2022.
I hope you liked this model. See you in the next one.