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Louis Gardner
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Invasion Stripes / Flight 19, 1/48 Tamiya Republic P-47D-28RA Thunderbolt "Eileen"

June 6, 2024 · in Aviation · · 6 · 101
This article is part of a series:
  1. Invasion Stripes / Flight 19 "FJB" 164 Squadron RAF Hawker Typhoon Mk-1b, Revell 1/32 car door converted to a bubble top.
  2. Invasion Stripes / Flight 19 Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk X 236 Squadron RAF, Tamiya 1/48
  3. Invasion Stripes / Flight 19, 1/48 Tamiya Republic P-47D-28RA Thunderbolt "Eileen"
  4. Invasion Stripes / Flight 19 P-51B Mustang Viscous Virgie, The Flying Scott

Building this model was a first for me. Believe it or not, this is my VERY first . EVER ! I know, sad but very true.


I know, I need to get seated at the bench more often... but life has a bad habit of interfering with the best laid plans.

From what I have read about this kit, all of the good mentioned is spot on. It was one of the easiest models I have had the pleasure of building. If you have not done one of these, you don't know what you are missing.


This model was built as a part of our "Flight - 19" mini / private group of friends.

I had originally chosen to build a model of a P-47, because I remember playing in one as a little boy. It was also the first airplane I have ever sat in. There was a P-47N on outside display at the Museum of Speed in Daytona Beach back in the 1960's. My Dad would take me there, climb up and open the canopy, then pick me up and place me in the cockpit, letting me play until he got tired of it... I could have lived there... just give me some food and something to drink and I would have been a very happy little boy...


I had originally intended to build a Gabreski P-47, and also an Eagleston model with the big Yellow cowling and the black skull on it. The Gabreski Thunderbolt was going to be built because I had a kit in "Ye Olde Stash" that I picked up from an online auction site, where I usually tend to overspend on things like this... This kit had the parts left out of the sealed bags. Thankfully it was complete and not missing any parts.

And, because of the way it was stored for who knows how long, the majority of the plastic surfaces were scratched, and to the point where it would be hard to make a nice bare metal finish without some major time with fine grit sand paper.

But it would be the perfect candidate for a camouflaged aircraft like Gabreski's was... See where this is going ? Well, maybe... not so fast and please read on.


Most of you know that I like to build kits in my usual "Iron Werke" style, and this one was no different. So I started cranking out three scale Tamiya "bubble top" models. However this time it bit me. Completely by accident, I glued the incorrect landing light in place under the wing. Once I realized my mistake, I was scrambling to find a solution. But by now the glue had set and I had no choice other than to get a resin Halberd conversion set for one of the XP-47's.

Research eventually showed me that I had accidentally stumbled upon the "perfect" P-47D-28- RA (or RE depending on which plant it was built at). These aircraft had the later version of the solid cockpit floors, and the same landing light assemblies positioned as I had built mine. The landing light arrangements were carried over from the earlier bubble top P-47D-25.

The D-25 had a corrugated cockpit floor however, and this was the problem. I built mine up using the later smooth cockpit floor that comes with the P-47M kit that Tamiya made (and sadly has been discontinued for a while).
As best I can tell, the later "smooth" cockpit floor was introduced sometime during the -27 or -28 series of Thunderbolt. There were some other changes, like the landing light positioning, but these are the most obvious of them all.

Then a stroke of luck hit me. The modelling God's must have been happy with me for some odd reason. I randomly glanced over at the remaining 1/48 scale P-47 kits in the stash, and there it was...
The 1/48 scale Academy kit with the "Eileen" markings. It was a camouflaged plane, and it had decals that still looked pretty good.


So I did some research and found out that "Eileen" was in fact a P-47D-28 RA... so it was THE perfect candidate for a markings transplant, with no cash involved.
Score a big win for the home team ! Yeah buddy ! Whoo hooo ! Party on Wayne, Party on Garth ! Bring me a shrubbery !
OK, back on earth now...

This model was built almost straight from the box. The only thing I added was a home made set of masking tape seat belts. I used some beading wire to make the buckles and straps. They are not perfect, but I think it looks better than the decal Tamiya provides us with.

One of these days I will purchase some Eduard or HGW seat belts. This is the main reason why I decided to build it with the canopy closed. Plus that's how I remember the one being parked... the one I played in as a kid. Dad would open the canopy and close up again it before we left, being respectful.

I painted the finished model with some of my dwindling Model Master enamels, using RAF Dark Green for the upper, and another RAF color for the undersides as well. I don't remember which the second one was at the moment, and I don't think I wrote it down. I'm not 100 percent sure about my color choices, but it looks enough good to me. It may have been Model Master RAF Medium Sea Grey though, with a splash of White tossed in.

These particular P-47's were delivered from the factory in a natural metal finish, and I wanted to pose the flaps in the "DOWN" position, even though I have not found any photos of them like this during the War for the 78th... Chances are it was "Verboten" to do this. Doing so would have cost your wallet some cash. But I thought it just looked cool...sort of like it does when you're building a Tamiya Corsair... so down they go !

For these reasons, I used some Bare Metal Foil to cover the leading edge of both flaps, because they probably would have been raised when these planes were painted in the field. Because the flaps would have been "UP", the leading edges would not have been painted. They would have been tucked inside the wings and not visible.
The model was an absolute joy to assemble. Now that I have made the deadline, I will finish up the other two P-47M kits I have underway. So please keep an eye out for them. Also I might be making a Hun Hunter P-47D "razorback" soon as well. Time will tell.

Here is what I found out online about this particular aircraft. This next bit of information covers the assignments and ultimate fate of Eileen. Keep in mind there were two of them, both P-47's, with the first one being a razorback and a completely different serial number... They were painted very similar though.

This is the information for the bubbletop which I have built a model of here. This bubbletop I built the model of, was Lieutenant Oiler's second “Eileen”.


One photo I found of this later "bubbletop" plane clearly shows that there was no upper US star and bar insignia was applied on the top side of the left wing, (at least at the time of the photo). The US insignia might not be visible here in this photo because of the way it is exposed. It looks too dark to me.

But it might not actually be there. Take a look at this picture and see what I mean.


It likely was added on later. I built mine exactly like this plane with the upper wing insignia and the Black rudder.

Serial Number 42-28878 (MSN 2540)
84th FS [WZ-S],
78th FG, 8th AF, Duxford,
Station 357;
First Lieutenant Frank E. Oiler of the 84th Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group P-47D-28 RA Thunderbolt (WZ-S, serial number 42-28878)
"Eileen" named for the pilot's girlfriend - artwork of a wasp with a prominent stinger. Lt Oiler would later marry Eileen, and they remained married together until "death did they part" many years later.

Then when Lt Oiler received a new aircraft, his "old" P-47 was transferred to another unit.
It was transferred to
351st FS, 353rd FG, 8th AF, Raydon,
Then on to Station 157; 62nd FS
and the fuselage codes were changed to [LM-S bar],
56th FG, 8th AF, Boxted,
Station 150;

This P-47 met it's end when it crashed on 4 Feb, 1945 near Tollesbury, Essex;
Pilot bailed out and was killed.

His first one was an older P-47D-11 razorback. The "stinging wasp" nose art and lettering font style for the name "Eileen" were just a little bit different from his earlier P-47D razorback.
I added the upper wing insignia in it's usual position. I also went with the standard size insignia.
I also decided to add a second US Star and Bar oversized insignia on the undersides of the wings. Many P-47's in the ETO flew around like this.


This Thunderbolt was assigned to the 78 FG/84 FS in 1944. Allied aircraft during this time had invasion stripes painted on them. Depending on the time they were flying, the stripes were modified, or partially removed / painted over.

There are several pictures I have found online that show his second "bubbletop" version P-47 with the entire rudder painted in a solid dark color, which is often shown as a Black color on illustrations and various decal sheets.

I believe this was done later, as the aircraft was also photographed at one point, with the White horizontal theater marking tail stripe extending past on to the rudder as well as the fin. You can also see the MG cover on the leading edge of the wing appears to be a natural or unpainted metal... I used bare metal foil for this on my plane.

Also in this picture, we can see a US Star insignia located under the Port side wing, which is the closest to us. Normally this area was not marked. So this is proof the actual plane had two insignias under the wings. The regular insignia positioning was under the other Starboard side wing.


The following information about the 78th was obtained primarily from Wikipedia. I have covered the entire history of the unit.

The 78th Fighter Group was initially based at Goxhill but moved to Duxford in April 1943 and stayed there until October 1945. The 78th FG flew each of the three US built principal fighters of the AAF in the ETO.

They flew in the P-38 Lightning, then the P-47 Thunderbolt, and finally in the P-51D .


In their Thunderbolts, the 78th FG provided maximum effort air cover to the Normandy invasion fleet as it crossed the Channel. The Group was awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations, the first for their missions in support of airborne forces in Holland, between 16-23 September 1944. The second award was for successfully ground strafing aircraft on five airfields near Prague and Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, on 16 April 1945.

The 78th Fighter Group (78 FG) is now an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the 78th Fighter Wing, at Hamilton Air Force Base, California. It was inactivated on 1 February 1961.


During World War II the group was an Eighth Air Force fighter unit stationed in England assigned primarily to RAF Duxford. It claimed 338 air-to-air and 358 air-to-ground aircraft destroyed. It flew its last mission on 13 April 1945.

World War Two:
The 78th Fighter Group was activated at Baer Field, IN as the 78th Pursuit Group in January 1942, receiving its cadre from the 14th Fighter Group, and re-designated as a fighter group four months later. It initially trained for combat with P-38s and served as part of the west coast air defense organization. It moved to England in November 1942 and was assigned to Eighth Air Force. The group lost its P-38s, and most of its pilots, in February 1943 when they were assigned to the Twelfth Air Force for service in the North African campaign.


The group was reassigned to Duxford airfield in April 1943 and reequipped with Republic P-47 Thunderbolts. Aircraft of the group were identified by a black/white checkerboard pattern on the cowling.

The group consisted of the following squadrons:

82d Fighter Squadron fuselage code (MX)
83d Fighter Squadron fuselage code (HL)
84th Fighter Squadron fuselage code (WZ)
From Duxford, the 78th flew many missions to escort Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers that attacked industries, submarine yards and docks, V-weapon sites, and other targets on the Continent.


In 1943, the group had the first American ace in Eighth Air Force. The group also claimed a victory over a German Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter. The unit also engaged in counter-air activities and on numerous occasions strafed and dive-bombed airfields, trains, vehicles, barges, tugs, canal locks, barracks, and troops.

In addition to other operations, the 78th participated in the intensive campaign against the German Air Force and aircraft industry during Big Week, 20–25 February 1944 and helped to prepare the way for the invasion of France.
The group supported the landings in Normandy in June 1944 and contributed to the breakthrough at Saint-Lô in July.


The group converted to North American Mustangs in December 1944, and participated in the Battle of the Bulge, from December 1944 to January 1945. It also supported the airborne assault across the Rhine in March.

The 78th Fighter Group received a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for activities connected with the Operation Market-Garden combined ground and airborne attack through on the Netherlands in September 1944 when the group covered troop carrier and bombardment operations and carried out strafing and dive-bombing missions. It suffered its heaviest casualties of the war in this operation. The group received a second DUC for destroying numerous aircraft on five airfields near Prague and Pilsen on 16 April 1945.

The 78th Fighter Group returned to Camp Kilmer New Jersey and October 1945 and was inactivated on 18 October.


Occupation of Germany:

The 78th FG was reactivated in Germany on 20 August 1946, replacing the 368th Fighter Group (which was inactivated, re-designated the 136th Fighter Group, and allotted to the National Guard) at AAF Station Straubing, Germany and flew the former 368th's P-47 Thunderbolts from the airfield. The group was reactivated due to the Air Force's policy of retaining only low-numbered groups on active duty after the war.

In Germany the group was assigned to the United States Air Forces in Europe's XII Tactical Air Command for duty with the occupation force. The group was assigned to AAF Station Straubing, The group was transferred, without personnel and equipment, to Mitchel Field, New York in June 1947.


Air Defense of the United States
At Mitchel, the group remained active and was assigned to Air Defense Command (ADC). The group was manned with a small cadre of personnel, being equipped with a few P-51D Mustangs. On 16 November 1948, the 78th was reassigned to Hamilton AFB, California where it was assigned to ADC's Fourth Air Force. At that time the 78th Fighter Wing was established under Hobson Plan, and the 78th Fighter Group became the operational component of the wing, controlling its flying resources.

On 1 March 1949, the 78th Fighter Group received the first of the new production F-84 Thunderjets, with these aircraft going to the 82d, 83d and 84th Fighter Squadrons. The F-84s became problematic with cracks appearing in wing spars or skin beginning in September. The group lost four jets in accidents by the end of the year.

On 1 July 1949, Air Defense Command was inactivated as a major command, and Continental Air Command (ConAC) assumed the air defense mission. In January 1950 the wing and group were redesignated as the 78th Fighter-Interceptor Wing and 78th Fighter-Interceptor Group and the squadrons became Fighter-Interceptor Squadrons (FIS).

With the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, the 78th Fighter Group was the only remaining ConAC F-84 unit with an air defense commitment. The group lost many personnel which were reassigned to Far East Air Force units engaging in combat with deployed units. The personnel losses were replaced with less-experienced federalized Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard personnel. At the same time, ConAC placed the 78th Fighter Group on 24/7 air defense alert status, with the three squadrons rotating among themselves for one day on and two days off alert periods.


Throughout this period, the F-84s remained problematic with wing integrity, the group having only 50 of its authorized 70 aircraft operational, as a third of its aircraft had been sent to Republic Aircraft or Air Materiel Command depots for repairs. This led to excess hours being put on the remaining aircraft, reducing their designed operational life. By the first quarter of 1951, the number of operational aircraft on station was reduced to 44, with only 34 actually being combat ready. The manpower shortage was worse, with only seven of the forty combat-rated pilots being available, the remainder being assigned Europe or combat duty in Korea.

In June 1951, the 78th Fighter-Interceptor Group received the first four F-89B Scorpions, as a replacement for the F-84 Thunderjets. The Scorpions were assigned to the 83d and 84th FIS, while the 82d FIS retained the best of the groups remaining F-84s, while the remainder were either shipped as replacement aircraft to South Korea or sent to Republic for refurbishing.


By the end of 1951, the 82d FIS stood alert during daylight hours while the other two squadrons rotated night and foul weather duties. The F-89s, however, were rushed into service too rapidly. There were not enough trained pilots and radar operators, and there were not enough maintenance personnel who knew the intricacies of the complex and troublesome Hughes E-1 fire control system. The in-service rate of the F-89B was appallingly low, and crashes were all too frequent.

The 78th Fighter-Interceptor Group was inactivated along with the wing on 6 February 1952 along with its parent wing as part of a major ADC reorganization, which replaced fighter wings organized under the Hobson Plan with regional defense wings. Its operational units were transferred to the 4702d Defense Wing and Hamilton was placed under the 566th Air Base Group. Two of the inactivated 78th's squadrons moved as ADC dispersed its fighter force. The 82d FIS moved to Larson AFB, Washington and was reassigned to the 4703d Defense Wing; the 83d FIS to Paine AFB, Washington and transferred to the 4704th Defense Wing. Only the 84th remained at Hamilton AFB.


The unit was reactivated in 1955 by replacing the 566th Air Defense Group at Hamilton AFB as part of ADC's Project Arrow, which reactivated fighter units that had achieved distinction in the two-word wars. The 84th FIS, already at Hamilton was assigned to it and the Its 83d FIS returned without personnel or equipment to Hamilton and was reassigned to the group, taking over the personnel and equipment of the 325th FIS, which moved without personnel or equipment to Truax Field, Wisconsin.

The group also became the host for Hamilton AFB and was assigned a number of support organizations to fulfil this mission. On 18 October 1956, the 78th Fighter Wing was once again activated and the group transferred its maintenance and support functions to the wing. The group flew numerous interceptors for West Coast air defense until its inactivation on 1 February 1961 when group components were assigned directly to the 78th Fighter Wing as the 78th converted to the dual deputy organization.


Lineage
Constituted as the 78th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 13 January 1942
Activated on 9 February 1942
Re-designated 78th Fighter Group (Twin Engine) on 15 May 1942
Re-designated 78th Fighter Group, ca. 1 March 1943
Re-designated 78th Fighter Group, Single Engine, ca. 21 August 1944
Inactivated on 18 October 1945.
Activated on 20 August 1946
Re-designated 78th Fighter Group, Jet ca. 16 November 1948
Re-designated 78 Fighter-Interceptor Group on 20 January 1950
Inactivated on 6 February 1952
Re-designated 78th Fighter Group (Air Defense), and activated 18 August 1955
Inactivated on 1 February 1961

Assignments:
IV Fighter Command, 9 February 1942
VIII Fighter Command, 29 November 1942.
4th Air Defense Wing, 30 June 1943
65th Fighter Wing, 7 August 1943.
66th Fighter Wing, 18 August 1943.
Attached to: 3d Bombardment (later Air) Division, 5 September 1944 – 10 October 1945
XII Tactical Air Command, 20 August 1946 – 15 June 1947
Fourth Air Force, 30 June 1947
78th Fighter Wing (later 78th Fighter-Interceptor Wing), 16 November 1948 – 6 February 1952
28th Air Division, 18 August 1955 – 18 October 1956
78th Fighter Wing (Air Defense), 18 October 1956 – 1 February 1961

Operational Squadrons

82d Pursuit (later Fighter, Fighter-Interceptor) Squadron: 9 February 1942 – 18 October 1945; 20 August 1946 – 6 February 1952; attached 18 October 1956 – 1 July 1960
83d Pursuit (later Fighter, Fighter-Interceptor) Squadron: 9 February 1942 – 18 October 1945; 20 August 1946 – 6 February 1952; 18 August 1955 – 1 February 1961
84th Pursuit (later Fighter, Fighter-Interceptor) Squadron: 9 February 1942 – 18 October 1945; 20 August 1946 – 6 February 1952; 18 August 1955 – 1 February 1961

Stations
Baer Field, Indiana 9 February 1942
Muroc Army Air Field, California 30 April 1942
Hamilton Field, California May–November 1942
RAF Goxhill (USAAF Station 345), England December 1942
RAF Duxford (USAAF Station 357), England April 1943 – October 1945
Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, 16–18 October 1945
AAF Station Straubing, Germany, 20 August 1946 – June 1947
Mitchel Field, New York June 1947
Hamilton Air Force Base, California November 1948 – 6 February 1952; 18 August 1955 – 1 February 1961


Decals use to build this model were taken from this kit I have in the stash.
Academy #2159 1/48 Republic P-47D Thunderbolt "Eileen"
I'm not sure they have the "stinging bee" correctly depicted, but it's close enough for me.

Later I found this photo on the American Air Museum in Britain website. Full credit for this image belongs to them. It shows Lieutenant Oiler standing next to a P-51D that he flew later, after transitioning into the Mustang, and it was named "Sherman was Right !".



This is the caption that goes with this picture.
A P-51 Mustang aircraft WZ-S, (serial number 44-63209), named “Sherman Was Right”. The phrase derives from a speech in which General William T. Sherman (commander of a Union Army in the American Civil War) said: “There is many a boy here who looks on war as all glory but, boys, war is all hell.” First Lieutenant Frank E. Oiler, pilot of the aircraft is stood alongside it.

Lt. Frank E, Oiler of Euclid, OH, a fighter pilot of the 84th Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force.

This is what I found out happened to his P-51D-20 NA. This information was also obtained from Joe Baugher serial number search / website.
44-63209 on display at American Air Museum, Duxford, UK. This is a replica.
The original 44-63209 crashed from unknown cause SE of Nordlinge., Germany Apr 4, 1945
while serving with 78th FG, 84th FS, 8th AF ("Sherman was Right").
MACR (military aircraft crash report) number 13399. Pilot was killed, but not named.


Frank joined the 84th on 26th June 1944 and is seen here with his first assigned aircraft –
Which was a razorback P-47D-11-RE 42-75429, coded WZ-S and named “Eileen”. This P-47 was previously assigned to Capt. Dorian NMI Ledington of Wichita, KS as WZ-Y.

This razorback was re-coded to WZ-S whilst flown by Ledington, and reassigned to Frank on 28th June 1944. It was last flown by Frank on 30th September 1944. It was then transferred to the 56th Fighter Group where it finally met its end on 8th November when it crashed at Boxted due to engine failure.
I do not know the name or the fate of the pilot who was flying this "razorback" aircraft when it crashed.
This is what was listed for the old razoback at Joe Bauger's serial number website.
42-75429 (MSN 3780) 84th FS [WZ-B; then WZ-S], 78th FG, 8th AF, Duxford, Station 357; "Eileen" [named for the pilot's girlfriend] - artwork of a wasp with a prominent stinger; 62nd FS [LM-S], 56th FG, 8th AF,
Halesworth, Station 365; RAF Boxted, Essex, Station 150; Crash landed 8Nov44 after engine failure at Boxted.
Pilot survived, aircraft badly damaged, unknown if repaired.

There's not too much on the internet about Lt. Oiler either. This is what I found:

Obituary :
FRANK E OILER
Apr 18, 1920 - Jan 23, 2006

Distinguished Flying Cross
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
He was credited with one victory, but I don't know the details around this event.

OILER FRANK E. OILER, age 85, beloved husband of the late Eileen D. (nee Arndt); devoted father of Judd (fiancee Lana Roberto), Todd (Myra) and Barry (Loreen); loving grandfather of Julie Ritner (Jeff), Amanda Davis, Adam, Michael and Lindsay (deceased) and great grandfather of Carli, Joey and Dominic; dear brother of Eugene (deceased); dear friend of Jean Laubert.

U.S. Army Air Corps W.W. II Veteran. Friends may call at GOLUBSKI DELIBERATO FUNERAL HOME, 4747 TURNEY RD., CORNER GARFIELD BLVD., where a Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, Jan. 29 at 4 p.m. Memorial Gathering TWO HOURS PRIOR TO SERVICE (2-4 P.M).

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to Seasons of Life Hospice, 9511 West Pleasant Valley Rd., Parma, OH. 44130, or a charity of your choice.

Hopefully this will help to shed some light on one of America's hero's of the air, and what I beleive one of his planes could have looked like.

Lest we forget. Freedom is not free either. If you think it is, I ask you to take a trip to visit one of your local VA hospitals or clinics.

As always, comments are encouraged, and I sincerely thank you for stopping by. I also thank you for reading this article in it's entirety.

Reader reactions:
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1 additional image. Click to enlarge.


6 responses

  1. Another "looker" Louis! You really got those checkerboards to lay down nicely on that cowl. Well done!

  2. The smooth application of the checkerboards struck me as well. Oiler’s Eileen and Sherman Was Right always appealed to me too. I also searched for flaps down photos of the P-47 when I last made one. They are nearly nonexistent. So I made mine with the flaps up. I cannot say that I know from experience, but I think getting the flaps to fit neatly in the up position is more difficult. And I am not claiming to have achieved said neat fit.

  3. Very impressive work on Eileen, Louis @lgardner
    Also for this build, your in-depth research resulted in a perfect copy of the original aircraft.
    With all your recent excellent work I now do understand why you were "silent" on iModeler.

  4. Excellent result and, as always, superb research, Louis!
    Well done!

  5. Superb job, Louis! Another gem in the group.

  6. Eileen is beautiful, Louis! The checkers and nose art really set her off!

    Another mine of information backed up with trademark exceptional build quality and photos.

    It’s always the detailed touches that set your work apart. Using foil inside the flaps to show lack of paint is that little bit of magic that makes for a unique and authentic model.

    Great stuff as ever!

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