1/48 Revell / Monogram P-47D Thunderbolt “Bonnie”, Major “Bill” Dunham, 460th FS, 348th FG.
Here's the mate to my last P-47 article...I built this plane about 10 years ago.
I built this one at the same time as "Fiery Ginger" as flown by Colonel Kearby. These two planes were my first attempt at working out the kinks in the "Gardner Iron Works" assembly line mode of kit building...
This one was built pretty much right out of the box, with the exception of altering the leading edge of the wings, and how the .050 caliber weapons were oriented along the edge. On a Thunderbolt, if you were to look at how the machine gun barrels are arranged, they would look level with the horizon when viewed straight on from the front.
This causes them to look uneven along the leading edge. The weapons were staggered like this to allow the ammunition trays to feed properly into the individual guns. If they were all at the same height inside the wing, the ammo would have a hard time passing over each weapon to feed the adjacent gun……………..and there are four in each wing.
This is also why the machine guns are staggered from front to rear, and some barrels protrude out farther from the wing than others.
The kit parts had them straight along the leading edge of the wing, in a single row, (which isn't correct).
Having personally fired a single .050 caliber machine gun on numerous times, I have seen firsthand how powerful these weapons are. I can only imagine how much of a punch, and how much noise that eight of these would cause……………… One word comes to mind…………. Devastating. (on both the target and the user's ear drums)
I used a set of Super Scale decals for it if memory serves me correctly. Since then I have found out more about both the man and his machine……………… and my errors.
The "Major" was a 16 victory Ace in the US Army Air Forces, flying in the same unit that Colonel Kearby was the Commanding Officer of.
William "Bill" Dunham completed his "Advanced" flying school at Luke AAF Base in Arizona, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, on December 12, 1941, just 5 days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
He was then stationed at Dale Mabry Army Airfield in Tallahassee Florida, flying with the 53rd Fighter Group, for the next 9 months. While with the 53rd, he also flew in the Panama Canal Zone, until he was assigned as a test pilot with the 1st Fighter Command in New York.
In November 1942, he was reassigned to the 342nd Fighter Squadron, which was deployed to Australia in February 1943, and then to New Guinea later that year. He served as Operations Officer and later Commander of the 342nd. July 1944 "Bill" Dunham became the Commander of the 460th Fighter Squadron , while in New Guinea. In December '44, he became the Operations Officer of the 348th FG, after they had moved to the Philippines.
In January 1945, he was sent back to the US to attend "Gunnery School" believe it or not... He graduated the Gunnery School in May of 1945, where he promptly returned to the 348th and became the Deputy Commander, a position that he held until the end of the War.
"Bill" Dunham remained in the Army Air Force, (until it became the U.S. Air Force), eventually attaining the rank of Brigadier General during the Vietnam War. He retired after having a notable career in the Air Force, and received numerous Decorations for his combat service.
I managed to find these photos of "Bonnie", with the Major sitting in the cockpit of his plane.
and found this one of the plane with the canopy closed.
That's when I realized the area behind the pilots armored bulkhead, under the rear side windows was left in natural aluminum and not painted in "Republican Green". Ooops ! I always find these things out too late...
This one was finished using various shades of Bare Metal Foil, and Testor's Model Master "Metalizer" finishes. Model Master enamels were used throughout the build. I painted on the alternating red / white, and blue rudder stripes.
After looking at these pictures, I realized two things: The US Insignias appear somewhat transparent, and I failed to paint the wingtip navigation lights ! To err is human... and I'm definitely human.
A few years after I built these two P-47's, Tamiya released their fabulous renditions of various "Jugs". I have several of these later Tamiya releases in the stash, and plan on building a few of these soon. (Eagleston's yellow nosed "skull and cross bones" on the cowling, Tarheel Hal, and Big A$$ Bird are just some of the scheduled T-bolt builds).
But I remember having a good time building these two "old school" Monogram kits. The fit was pretty good, and in the end they look like a T-bolt should to me.
As usual, comments are encouraged... Another P-47, this time a "N" version, "Too Big and Too Heavy" is next on the soon to be posted article list...