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Louis Gardner
169 articles

1/48 Revell / Monogram P-47D Thunderbolt “Bonnie”, Major “Bill” Dunham, 460th FS, 348th FG.

July 16, 2017 · in Aviation · · 42 · 6K

Here's the mate to my last 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 , 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" 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...

Enjoy !

Reader reactions:
18  Awesome

16 additional images. Click to enlarge.

42 responses

  1. You've done some really fine work, Lou, but this is my favorite of all you've posted so far since I've joined and a goal to aspire to. In my book, and for all the ballyhoo over painting silver tones correctly (and yes, I know that wings were sometimes painted aluminum tones), the only way to get the look right is to use foil. This work of art looks like it's about to crank up and fly right off my screen. It's that good.

    One of these days I'm going to do a foil-covered model. Maybe I'll emulate this one (though to be frank, of the two P-47s in the stash I think I'll do the razor back in olive drab and the bubble top in the foil). Thanks for posting this.

    • I sincerely appreciate the compliments David, and the fact that you "liked" the article too. I wanted to build something different with a NMF on a "razor back" T-bolt. This one fit the bill perfectly. The bubble top T-bolt is a natural for a foil application.
      Bare Metal Foil is pretty easy to use, and to me it looks great on a plane, especially if you use different shades on your build. You can also scratch the foil very lightly with steel wool, to give it an even different sheen to it. Then you can orient the grains and the results are endless. I agree with you on a foil finish. They are hard to beat.

      Yes you're right about the wings sometimes being painted silver or aluminum colors. The P-51 "D model" Mustang is the one that comes to mind here. It had a laminar flow wing, and the small imperfections and rivets were filled in with a filler and then sanded smooth. The wings were sprayed in a metal color over the filler materials.
      Thanks again for the compliments. I'll be watching out for your next foil project... Please keep us posted my friend.

      • I agree 100% of the tones of foil. I saw the P-51D in Seattle's History of Flight Museum and reflective quality can change panel to panel. Some is dull aluminum, and right next to it is a penal you could use to shave in. You can get that variance with foil, but not with paint.

        On a historical note, gunnery school?! Now there's a cue for a snarky joke about military intelligence! You almost wonder if they just wanted to give him a break for some reason and had to come up with something justifiable...

        • Yes "Gunnery School"... It's M.I. at it's best. 🙂

          The US sent quite a few of their Aces to gunnery school later on in the War. Once they returned to combat areas, some pilots started racking up higher scores using their new found knowledge. Others returned to find the skies had been mostly cleared of enemy opposition by this late stage.

          I found it an interesting bit of information...

  2. Louis, what a fantastic model you have built! Wholly Molley!
    Just the best.. Whew!
    California Steve

  3. Fabulous work on that finish, Louis...really nice job! 🙂

  4. Hi Louis,

    That's a wonderful rendition of the old Monogram classic. I built the bubbletop version a while back, and in my eyes they still stand out as great examples of P-47's.

    I look forward to your "N" I due course.

    Cheers Gregor

    • Thank you Gregor D.

      I enjoy building the older Monogram and Revell kits. They are what I learned on many years ago... They still build into nice representations today.

      Now I must warn you about the "N" model I'll soon be posting. It has numerous flaws in the build. Back when I built that one, I didn't spend a whole lot of time taking care of seams. So there are a few small gaps present on the leading edges of the wings, and a few other places. That one is far from perfect.

      It was however my first attempt at producing a realistic bare metal finish using paints.

      Thanks again Gregor.

  5. Great looking model, Louis.

  6. Looks beautiful:) Great work!

    • Thank you Johan. You're recent Bf-109 posting was a beauty ... hard to believe it was a 1/72 scale plane. I especially liked the background items in your photos.

  7. Great work with the BMF Louis!
    You don't see that many razorbacks with a metal finish so nice choice of subject.
    Nice straight undercarriage too, Monogram Jugs could end up being a bit 'bendy' (at least mine did).
    Keep up the good work

    • Thanks my friend for the kind words. 🙂
      I wanted something different that would stand out from the normal "OD Green over Neutral Gray" variety P-47 razor back. I'm glad I stumbled across this one.

      The original version I was going to build with these markings was the old 1/32 Revell kit under the "Lone Eagles" series that I have in my stash. Yep, it's still sitting there waiting to be built... Maybe someday.
      Take care.

  8. Hello Louis...Yours is one of the finest Thunderbolt models I've seen in quite some time. Very nicely done and a great choice of markings.


  9. I agree with Jim, easily one of the best Jugs I've ever seen built. A master class.

    • Thanks David ! I don't know about it being in a master class, (as there are many talented builders out there far better than I), but I do thank you for the very kind words my friend.

      I am very happy with how this one turned out. It catches your eyes for sure.

  10. Very nice T-Bolt! I don't know that I'll ever get around to using foil, but it looks very nice on yours. Generally, I steer away from NMF! 🙂

    • Thanks buddy ! I used to shy away from the metal finishes too. I started tinkering around with Testor's "Metalizers" on my "N" version T-bolt. I was happy with how it looked until I sprayed on the sealer, when it lost a lot of it's luster. Then I found Bare Metal Foil and gave it a try. I have been using it every since and really like how it turns out. Go for it and try some. I think once you get the hang of it you will be hooked... I have found that a combination of Metallizer and Bare Metal Foil works out pretty good for me.

      Thanks again for the compliments my friend. Good to hear from you.

  11. Profile Photo
    said on July 17, 2017

    Cracker Louis.

  12. WoW! Beautiful, my friend!

    How 'bout a silver plated M60A3 or an M1A1?! At the Aberdeen Museum there's a nickle-plated, polished blue & dull black M60 Squad Machine Gun made by Maremont after the Army signed the contract for the MGs, back in the mid1950s - mid '60s timeframe.
    "Striking" is the word that comes to mind. I have a paper print of it that isn't my best photo offering.
    Fine Jug, Louis.

    • Thanks for the kind words my fellow brother DAT. I'll bet that M-60 SMG is a sight to behold. Can you imagine how a chrome Abrams or M-60 would look ?

      Thanks again buddy for the compliments. It's great to hear from you.

      • I can imagine a chrome plated Abrams parked beside my house. Maybe flames on the side skirts. (But I wouldn't want to pay the fuel bill for it! Filling up those 505 gals. in the fuel tanks might get a bit pricey!)

        Or - is that too much?! LoL!

  13. Another nice and beautiful Jug!

  14. Louis.

    What makes this article pop out is the writing (stating the obvious) but, having a history of the pilot or a little primer about his life is a great lead into showing the model. It really helps make history come alive. Especially, when doing a story about one of the "Greatest Generation" . Monogram kits are comfort foods that many modelers have cut their teeth on and seeing Dunham's bird is a subject that doesn't always get a lot of attention. Most of the P-47 write ups about birds in the ETO. Two thumbs up on the writing and the foiled P-47.

    • Thanks Stephen. I am still working on perfecting my writing skills. It's an evolution just like anything else we do. I agree that it helps bring life into our builds if the reader has some background information about the man and machine. Most of the P-47's that you see built up are ETO planes. Occasionally it's nice to see something a bit different. I am very pleased to see that you have "liked" the article as well. Thanks again for the kind words. Take care.

  15. Great NMF! And a very nice build indeed!

  16. Very nice job Louis. This is one of my favorite schemes. You may get away from the transparency look by placing another set of decals over the original Stars and Bars

  17. Hello Louis,
    Great job on this "heavy" machine.
    Interesting story. Regards, Dirk / The Netherlands.

  18. I definitely like this posting, Louis, just the right mix of interesting text, excellent photography topped off with a stunning looking model. I think the comments above reflect just what a good post this is. Many thanks for sharing this with us.

  19. Thanks George. It's a learning curve to write an article just as it is with building our models. I'm still working to perfect both... and still have a way to go on each. 🙂
    I and very pleased to see that you "liked" the article as well. Thanks again my friend for the compliments.

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