Republic P-47N Thunderbolt, Academy 1/48, PTO
The 318th Fighter Group mainly had a mixed bag of P-39’s, P-40’s and P-47D’s in a training defensive role over the Hawaiian Islands, limited to their range until the US had captured the Marianas. The P-47N first arrived on scene in June 1945. The variant specifically designed for long range missions in the Pacific were ironically first sent to Europe. Where they arrived too late as the war ended before any could operate in theatre. They were promptly crated up and shipped to the Pacific Theatre. The “N” variant had a longer wing span with clipped wing tips, which housed larger fuel tanks for a range of 2300 miles with drop tanks. Escorting bombers from the Ie Shima air base, 333rd FS flew the N with escort duty. also ground attack as well as air to air.
1st Lt Urban “Ben” Drew transferred from the European theatre where he had become an “Ace” flying the P-51 Mustang, he was also distinguished as the first allied pilot to shoot down 2 Me-262’s. Arriving Iwo Jima as the only ace on the Island, more experienced than most of the higher ranking officers, at just 21 years old it was hard for the hard nosed, pig headed and at times gruff young eager pilot to reign it in a bit. He soon fell in love with his Jug. Roomy, long range, even the pedals can be folded for leg room, the first auto pilot was also available in the “N” variant, also a holder for cold drinks like a Coke kept chilled near a vent that allowed very cold air flying at high altitudes to keep any drinks very cold. Eager to take the war to the Japanese, knowing that he was new to the P-47N, new to flying over water, new to long range missions, new tactics. He grew to know the N very well and learn of it’s capabilities. Flying for the 413th FS, 414GB, his mount called Detroit Miss II. It is 14 Aug 1945, on this day as B-29’s have already dropped the 2 atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Lt Drew was wondering as well as others what next, the invasion of Japan planned in November. In the meantime continue ground attacks on the mainland. So on this day he and his wingman 1st Lt Harold Regan took off for Nagoya, at the pre-briefing of the mission, Urban reminded his young Lt to remember to go in on a spread formation on the attack run, do not come in close or behind me. Better to hit more targets that way not the same target I’m hitting. With a load out of just 3000 rounds .50 bullets no rockets or bombs, just a strafing mission was planned. Go in fast and get out, using the high speed dives that the P-47 was always known for. Just remember that the T-bolt had the glide characteristics of an anvil and it was hard to escape from unless you have complete control.
Cruising at 21,000 feet at 350 miles an hour, Nagoya is an industrial center, so the task at hand was to destroy industry and assets on the ground. With only 25 minutes of time on target available to both airmen. Nagoya is also home to Mitsubishi, and as they approach the target area over Akenagohara airfield, Lt Drew peels off to hit several Betty’s parked on the ramp. His 2 plane element was the only pair to depart the formation. Drew didn’t agree at the time that the Betty’s were abandoned or derelict. It was never clear if Drew cleared the attack with his flight leader at the time. Tracer fire was coming up to meet him as he commenced his attack run on the parked planes. Unfortunately his wingman Lt Regan did not follow his advice in regard to his approach on the attack run in did not spread out but followed his leader on the attack. As Drew evaded the ground fire, Regan took the brunt of the hits, though the Jug can take hits, lots of this, not this many. And soon Regan is shouting I’m hit I’m hit. Drew responds, “can you climb two”? Regan answers “yeah, I’m ok but shaking pretty bad” Regan, Cmon buddy lets nurse that plane to the beach, get offshore. Regan nurses the plane up to 11,000 feet. Heading out to sea. The R-2800 coughs and sputters and starts to lose power. As Regan fought to keep altitude, scared to death knowing he was in serious trouble. Flying a 10-ton airplane that all of a sudden had the flying qualities of a rock. He kept in contact with Drew ,maintaining his composure. Drew was hoping to get him close to one of the radar picket ships and nearby submarines that stood by for downed airmen. Also the search air rescue equipped B-17s’ that had the rescue life boats that they could drop near to a downed airman available. A B-29 had radio contact with a submarine and directed Drew and Regan towards that direction. Then Regan radios, I can’t hold this any longer, I’m going to have to bail. Drew felt that he may have waited too long, he held the nose up too long, when Regan bailed out of his Jug, he hit the left elevator after his jump, he bounced and free fell and then his chute opened. He watched Regan all the way down and hit the water, held his breath and saw Regan wiggle out of his chute and struggle into a dingy. His movements appeared sluggish suggesting that he was severely injured after the impact with his plane on the way down. Drew flew around before he had no choice but to leave as his fuel state was running low. He turned for home for long flight back to Iwo. A small island easily missed if not paying attention which he did but recovered and landed with barely enough fuel to land but not taxi back to the ramp. The next day the 413th CO Maj Paul Wignall informed Drew that a submarine was able to pick up Regan and returned him back to Iwo’s base hospital, he was up and awake. The following day the Japanese surrendered. That same day 1st Lt Harold Regan died of a massive brain hemorrhage, the doctors missed the injury, most likely from striking the left horizontal stab. Drew received a lot of flak from Regan’s family for attacking that field that led to his death in what was one of the last missions flown at the end of the war.
The Academy kit of the N was a nice surprise. As this was a bit better in design compared to the earlier “D” where there is a nasty gap in the wheel bay which is difficult to clean. Not so on this kit. There are some minor errors however, nothing big, but the cockpit still has the older style corrugated
floor when it should be flat. The wrong style prop and earlier designed R2800, not deal breakers.
Otherwise it builds to a nice model. The plane is of the Lonesome Polecat (a name that is more synonymous with a better known B-24) of the 333rd Fighter Squadron, 318th Fighter Group out of the Ie Shima air base summer 1945. Using Vallejo Metallizer, Polly Scale Yellow for the tail, the decals really performed very well on this. The Blue is a mix of RLM24, White and a Lt Blue to get what is pretty close to the shade of blue I wanted for the cowl ring and flaps. The anti-glare panel is Mission Models Olive Drab. I should’ve extended the OD all the way to the black trim on the upper cowl. Thanks for viewing.
46 additional images. Click to enlarge.