Platz 1/144 P-47D (Double Box)

History of the Republic P-47D Thunderbolt.
Refinements of the Thunderbolt continued, leading to the P-47D, which was the most produced version with 12,558 built. The “D” model actually consisted of a series of evolving production blocks, the last of which were visibly different from the first.

The first P-47Ds were actually the same as P-47Cs. Republic could not produce Thunderbolts fast enough at its Farmingdale plant on Long Island, so a new plant was built at Evansville, Indiana. The Evansville plant first built a total of 110 P-47D-1-RAs, which were completely identical to P-47C-2s. Farmingdale aircraft were identified by the -RE suffix after the block number, while Evansville aircraft were given the -RA suffix.

The P-47D-1 through P-47D-6, the P-47D-10, and the P-47D-11 successively incorporated changes such as the addition of more engine cooling flaps around the back of the cowl to reduce the engine overheating problems that had been seen in the field. Engines and engine subsystems saw refinement, (the P-47D-10 introduced the R-2800-63, replacing the R-2800-21 seen in the previous P-47s) as did the fuel, oil, and hydraulic systems. Additional armor protection was also added for the pilot.

The P-47D-15 was produced in response to requests by combat units for increased range. “Wet” (equipped with fuel plumbing) underwing pylons were introduced to allow a bomb or drop tank pressurized by vented exhaust air to be carried under each wing, in addition to the belly tank. Seven different auxiliary tanks were fitted to the Thunderbolt during its career:

The P-47D-16, D-20, D-22 and D-23 were similar to the P-47D-15 with minor improvements in the fuel system, engine subsystems, (the P-47D-20 introduced the R-2800-59 engine) a jettisonable canopy, and a bulletproof windshield. Beginning with the block 22 aircraft, the original narrow-chorded Curtiss propeller was replaced by propellers with larger blades, the Evansville plant switching to a new Curtiss propeller with a diameter of 13 ft (3.96 m) and the Long Island plant using a Hamilton Standard propeller with a diameter of 13 ft 2 in (4.01 m). With the bigger propellers having barely 6 in (152 mm) of ground clearance, Thunderbolt pilots had to learn to be careful on takeoffs to keep the tail down until they obtained adequate ground clearance, and on landings to flare the aircraft properly. Failure to do so damaged both the propeller and the runway. A modification to the main gear legs was installed to extend the legs via an electric motor (un-extending before retraction) to accommodate the larger propeller diameter.

Even with two Republic plants rolling out the P-47, the U.S. Army Air Forces still were not getting as many Thunderbolts as they wanted. Consequently, an arrangement was made with Curtiss to build the aircraft under license in a plant in Buffalo, New York. The Curtiss plant experienced serious problems and delays in producing Thunderbolts, and the 354 Curtiss-built fighters were relegated to stateside advanced flight training. The Curtiss aircraft were all designated P-47G, and a “-CU” suffix was used to distinguish them from other production. The first P-47G was completely identical to the P-47C, the P-47G-1 was identical to the P-47C-1, while the following P-47G-5, P-47G-10, and P-47G-15 sub-variants were comparable to the P-47D-1, P-47D-5 and P-47D-10 respectively. Two P-47G-15s were built with the cockpit extended forward to just before the leading edge of the wing to provide tandem seating, designated TP-47G, essentially to provide a trainer variant. The second crew position was accommodated by substituting a much smaller main fuel tank. The “Doublebolt” did not go into production but similar modifications were made in the field to older P-47s, which were then used as squadron “hacks” (miscellaneous utility aircraft).

Bubbletop P-47s

All the P-47s produced to this point had a “razorback” canopy configuration with a tall fuselage spine behind the pilot, which resulted in poor visibility to the rear. The British also had this problem with their fighter aircraft and had devised the bulged “Malcolm hood” canopy for the Spitfire as an initial solution. This type of canopy was fitted in the field to many North American P-51 Mustangs, and to a handful of P-47Ds. However, the British then came up with a much better solution, devising an all-round vision “bubble canopy” for the Hawker Typhoon. USAAF officials liked the bubble canopy and quickly adapted it to American fighters, including the P-51 and the Thunderbolt. The first P-47 with a bubble canopy was a modified P-47D-5 completed in the summer of 1943 and redesignated XP-47K. Another older P-47D was modified to provide an internal fuel capacity of 370 U.S. gal (1,402 l) and given the designation XP-47L. The bubble canopy and increased fuel capacity were then rolled into production together, resulting in the block 25 P-47D (rather than a new variant designation). First deliveries of the P-47D-25 to combat groups began in May 1944.

It was followed by similar bubble-top variants, including the P-47D-26, D-27, D-28 and D-30. Improvements added in this series included engine refinements and the addition of dive recovery flaps. Cutting down the rear fuselage to accommodate the bubble canopy produced yaw instability, and the P-47D-40 introduced a vertical stabilizer extension in the form of a fin running from the vertical stabilizer to just behind the radio aerial. The fin fillet was often retrofitted in the field to earlier P-47D bubble-top variants. The P-47D-40 also featured provisions for 10 “zero length” launchers for 5 in (127 mm) High-velocity aircraft rockets (HVARs), as well as the new K-14 computing gunsight. This was a license-built copy of the British Ferranti GGS Mark IID computing gyroscopic sight which allowed the pilot to dial in target wingspan and range, and would then move the gunsight reticle to compensate for the required deflection.

The bubbletop P-47s were nicknamed “Superbolts” by combat pilots in the field.

History in plastic.
It looks like there have been 6 new toolings of the P-47D in 1/144. Two are from the 70s and have been reboxed by a few different companies. Trumpeter’s kit from the 90s has been reboxed by a couple of different companies too. There’s a resin kit from the 2000s and that leaves us the most recent 2 new tools. One form Platz in 2008, which is the kit we’re talking about and F-Models, also from Japan, did a new mold kit in 2013. These 2 new mold kits have only been reboxed by the companies that designed them. So if you want a recent 1/144 P-47D then these are the 2 to go for.

In the Box
There are 2 kits in the box. The kits come in a sturdy end opening box. The sprues are all in one bag and the clear sprues are in their own bag inside the big bag. The decal sheet comes in its own bag too and has a protective sheet on it. The instructions are all on glossy paper in a 4-page booklet. The build instructions are on 2 pages and the paint and decal placement is covered on another 2 colour pages. There are colour call-outs as needed in the instructions for Mr. Color and Model Master paints.

The sprues have very subtle recessed panel lines and small attachment gates and are the usual good quality we expect from Platz. The level of detail is very good with no obvious issues. Each kit has 35 parts of which 33 are used. You will have 2 propellors left over and if you decide not to use the underwing stores you might have a few more parts left over.

In total each kit contains

  • 2 clear parts
  • 35 plastic parts (2 not used)

The decal sheet has 2 options from the Komatsu Air Base.

Building Stages
The build is in 7 steps:

  1. This puts together the 2 fuselage halves and the cockpit seat and instrument panel are trapped between them. There’s not much detail in there, but it would be tough to see any that was there.
  2. Step 2 puts the engine inside the cowling.
  3. This step puts the 2 parts of the topo wing onto the one part bottom wing.
  4. Step 4 assembles the undercarriage legs, wheels, and a door together and also assembles a 2 part under the fuselage fuel tank.
  5. Step assembles all the large parts together; fuselage, wings and tailplanes.
  6. Step 6 in the build is for painting and applying decals.
  7. The final step is adding all the small parts such as propeller, canopy and underwing stores.

Decal Options

The decal sheet has options for 4 aircraft:

  • “C4☆T” 388Fs 365FG 1945
  • “Miss Ann” 315 FS 324FG 1945
  • “AJ☆D” 356FS 354FG 1945
  • “Balls Out” 509FS 405FG 1945, flow by Capt. Mit Thompson.

The decals are produced by Cartograf and are to their usual very high standard.

The kit is currently available for about $18.oo from Platz.

Conclusion
In the box, you get 2 nice kits of the P-47D. You also get some colorful decal options and some nice detail on the plastic. If you want a couple of 1/144 P-47Ds then this is a good choice of kit with modern sprues.

Thanks to Platz for the review sample.

Paul Tosney – Editor
ModelBuilder International
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Paul Tosney

Paul has been with Model Builder International since almost the beginning. He started building models as a boy, and took a hiatus, but started building again a few years ago. He builds pretty much anything, but mostly WW2, with a smattering of modern and the occasional SciFi model.

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