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Brian Powell
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1/72 Tamiya P-47 Thunderbolt

January 2, 2023 · in Aviation · · 14 Comments


The Republic P-47 was a primary fighter-bomber and ground attack aircraft during WWII. Produced between 1941 and 1945, it made use of the newly-developed turbosupercharger engine which gave it good high-altitude performance. The engine was complex, and its ductwork gave the plane a fat fuselage making it very heavy compared to other fighters: “a dinosaur, but a dinosaur with good proportions”. The P-47 had eight 0.5 caliber guns in the wings, could carry 5″ rockets, and had two pylons for bombs. In addition to this firepower, it was a tough aircraft: the cockpit was armored and it could “absorb an astounding amount of lead”, as Luftwaffe ace Heinz Bar put it. Its radial piston engine could sustain more damage than comparable liquid-cooled engines, making the P-47 a scrappy ground attacker. The modern-day A-10 Thunderbolt II owes its namesake to this shared ruggedness in the face of danger.

The Thunderbolt had an impressive dive and roll rate, and these tactics made up for its otherwise lack of finesse and maneuverability at low altitude; one pilot likened piloting the P-47 to flying a bathtub around in the sky. Despite these challenges, the P-47 was a decisive component of the Allied air force. At the end of the war, the aircraft boasted a kill ratio of 4.6:1.

The Kit

The P-47D Thunderbolt “Razorback” is lovely. As my first Tamiya kit (and WWII subject), I can attest that the Tamiya hype is well-deserved. There is fine engraved detail, including rivets, and everything fit together nicely. The cockpit and wheel wells are superb:


The aircraft can be configured in either a bomber escort or ground attack role, and there are markings for two aircraft: Little Chief and “Sleepy Time Gal”. I wanted to build a P-47 with the “Eileen” wasp nose art along with the iconic checkerboard cowling that I had seen on this sharp-looking build and so used instead SuperScale Decal No. 72-811 “Eileen”. But, Eileen is a bubbletop, not a razorback, and so I was allowing myself to take some liberties with the realism of the subject. I’m OK with this, as I generally try to create an essential representation of a subject rather than a specific article.

For base coats I used XF-74 on top and XF-23 on bottom, and I decided to include invasion stripes on the wings and rear fuselage. I applied a black Tamiya panel line wash to the dark green top


and dark gray on the light blue bottom,

I added some highlights and fading with Abteilung Light Gray (particularly on the black invasion stripes to soften them a bit), and some grime here and there with Oil Brushers Starship Bay Sludge.

Decals were quite challenging in places: the open intercooler door, for one, and the checkerboard pattern on the cowling left little margin for error. The SuperScale decal checkerboard came in two, nicely-tapered halves which each went down fairly easily, only requiring some matching up which didn’t seem possible to do perfectly. The Tamiya decals were rather thick and I could not get some of them to settle into panel lines even with repeated application of solvaset. These decals were not, however, thick enough to be sufficiently opaque, as the black invasion stripes show through the white star of insignia. To add insult to injury, I actually anticipated this and used an insignia-shaped stencil as a mask when applying the black stripes, but somehow it wasn’t positioned properly:


To make the engine, I applied Alclad Aluminum followed by a black enamel wash, then I used some Tamiya Light Gray in places and roughly removed it with thinner. Lastly I hit it with some Mig Shaders grime:

All in all, a nice relatively quick build without problems. I’m excited to do some more WWII subjects so my P-47 can have some friends. That’s all for now, thanks for reading!

14 responses

  1. This razorback looks very nice, Brian @bapowellphys
    The checkerboard pattern on the nose looks really great as does the weathering.
    Well done.

  2. All I can say is, “WOW!” Masterful work at 1:72. Very impressed.

  3. Super nice build, nice overall finish. Great looking Jug!

  4. Fantastic build, Brian! Hard to believe it is only 1/72. Great article too!

  5. Definitely a terrific build, particularly in 1/72 scale, great start to the new year.

  6. Great build, Brian. I've built the same kit and the nice thing about the P-47 is that even at 1/72nd scale it's almost like building a BF-109 or a Yak-3 in 1/48th. I also had issues with the cowling decals. I resolved it by letting the decal set up, and then ever so lightly scoring the panel lines with a razor blade before re-applying the solvaset. The decal settled down nicely but it also turns a single decal into a multi-cal so be gentle. Also the decal over the fuselage turbo exhaust should be two pieces, I don't know why Tamiya hasn't figured that out. Your invasion stripes look great and I envy the time and patience you had to accomplish that. Again, great piece. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks David! The SuperScale checkerboard decal was sort of already scored, in that the shorter edge at the end of the cowling had no carrier film in between the black squares. This allowed the decal to settle in nicely: really, it wasn't nearly as difficult as I feared. Funny you mention the size of the P-47: as my first WWII build in 1/72, I might be in for a surprise when I try other subjects!

      • Allow me to recommend the WW II Airfix Hawker Typhoon in 1/72nd (another real life big airplane) or any of the Arma Hobby kits, especially the Arma Hurricane in 1/72nd. I like the scale. For me, it's a fair tradeoff between the level of detail and a relatively inexpensive kit that doesn't require a ton of resources and won't eat up all your shelf space at once. Cheers

  7. Great kit. Looks sensational!

  8. Very nice! I have this kit, and want to attempt the checkboard cowl, but know that Tamiya decals don't perform well. Might need to look for some aftermarket decals myself! Yours came out great!

  9. Though it was of larger scale, great work!

  10. That turned out really nice looking !

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