1O GRUPO DE AVIAÇÃO DE CAÇA
(FIRST BRAZILIAN FIGHTER GROUP)
PART THREE : THE MODELING CHAPTER
(Art : Felipe Canuto Miranda)
by Marcus V.T. Borges & Jairo A.O. Mello
The MTO is a normally a war scenario resting in oblivion by many renowned historians. Let us remember that it was, by Churchill’s wisdom, from there the Allies would invade the whole Europe and defeat Germany, for they had a foothold on the continent as early as the spring of 1943, in the Italian ‘boot’, while the invasion of France, Operation Overlord, would only be possible in mid-44...
This way, it is not surprising that this subject be tremendously overran by its ETO counterpart, in terms of publications and material available in our days.
However, it was a campaign that would cost dearly for the Allies, and was to be the stage for many heroic acts, from both sides.
As to improve matters, I will try to present here a little known chapter of this story, via the aviation component, focusing on the First Brazilian Fighter Group’s P-47D Thunderbolts, in their camouflage schemes and operational peculiarities I do think will be interesting to many modelers who try to make something less obvious and common without being exotic or inexpressive.
The main objective for the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces was battlefield interdiction. The Luftwaffe, from 1943 on, was just a shadow of its past size and efficiency, due to the need of defending the Reich, and most missions were left to the remnants of the former Regia Aeronautica, now ANR (Aeronautica Nazionale Reppublicana), concentrated in the industrial zone of Northern Italy, with a mix of Italian and German equipment.
However, as to ground forces, matters were completely different. The Wehrmacht was still a respectable force to deal with, and fought hard before leaving ground, many times with horrendous losses for both sides.
This way, most of the strategic Allied air forces were directed to attack the Reich itself, and the tactical ones to battlefield interdiction. This way reinforcements for the Axis forces had their path ways destroyed, decreasing the later overall efficiency.
The 1º Grupo de Caça, according to this doctrine, had as its main objective the tactical support of the ground forces. The equipment available, the rugged P-47D Thunderbolt (Bubbletop version only*), was ideally suited to these demands.
*there was ONE P-47D Razorback in Brazilian Air Force use, as an instructional airframe within Brasil.
The armament used by the Jugs consisted of various combinations of Bazooka rockets and bombs, combined with the plane’s 8-gun, plus eventually drop tanks of different capacities, according to the distance to the target of the day.
The impressive array of armaments carried by ground attacking P-47D’s
Camouflage & Markings
Most of the Thunderbolts, as supplied by USAAF Aircraft Depots, were camouflaged by the USAAF standard of Olive Drab (FS 34087) upper surfaces and Neutral Grey (FS 36173) undersurfaces. Some were left in Natural Metal Finish (NMF). They came from the factory with the Brazilian style of national insignias, just stars with the Brazilian national colors of green, yellow, blue and white in four wing positions, besides the rudder painted in green and yellow.
However, this system of demarcation caused some mishaps in theater, for this kind of insignia was quite different, and initially the Brazilian planes so-marked were almost shot down by friendly (?) aircraft. It was then decided to incorporate the US-style nationality markings, exchanging the US white star for the Brazilian one. This way the Brazilian P-47’s often wore insignias in six positions (it is interesting to note that the first nationality insignias applied were indeed DECALS!).
Nowadays, there is only one decal sheet manufacturer which does correctly represents Brazilian P-47D’s, FCM Decals from Brasil (normally available from the manufacturer, at www.webspace.com.br/fcm, or from Hannants, UK, at www.hannants.co.uk), and just an Aeromaster decal sheet called "Luscious Latin Jugs" (but only in 1/48th scale, as to my knowledge), which brings only one Brazilian plane, a NMF one, Black 2.
As to kits available to represent the Brazilian Thunderbolts, the recommended ones are:
An old mould, it is indeed poorly equipped to represent many of the Brazilian planes, but it can be used successfully.
This kit is better suited because of its great armament array, besides bringing in the hard to find Bazooka rockets, permitting to represent many of the 1º GAC planes.
This late mould is of outstanding quality, but it deserves the same comments of its 1/72 counterpart...
Similarly, this kit receives exactly the same comments of its 1/72 brother...
a) it is important to say that only the Hasegawa P-47D-30/40 kit has the infamous Dorsal Fin which equipped many of the Brazilian Thunderbolts, as to improve stability. Many P-47D arrived without it, and later were retrofitted with it...later all were already supplied with it.
b) there are other P-47D Thunderbolt kits on the market, but the above reviewed are the ones which less modifications needed to correctly represent Brazilian planes. As always, the final decision resides with the modeler.
c) some of the P-47D used the Hamilton-Standard propeller, which is available, in 1/48th scale, only in the Monogram’s Bubbletop P-47D or the Hasegawa’s "Gabreski" special edition.
Well, enough talking, let us go to the Brazilian P-47D Thunderbolt profiles (courtesy of "Jambock", FCM Decals 1/48 sheet, by Felipe C. Miranda).
1)P-47D-25RE 4226450, "Black 1", Lt.-Col. Nero Moura, 1º GAC Commander
This aircraft has indeed some corrections to be done to the above profile (the wings shown are the upper ones) :
This aircraft was one of the first to arrive at Tarquinia, being at the time the only one in NMF.
A photo showing well the NMF finish at 1o. GAC airdrome (Maj Buyers,USAAF).
Note : the site from where the photo has been acquired authorized its use. It is the BSB Cinema site, which produced recently the documentary film "Senta a Púa", about 1o. GAC adventures in the MTO. It is worth a visit, for it has the English version." Senta a Púa" will also be released in English. More info at the site itself with BSB staff.
2)P-47D-28RA 4228986, "White B6", Lt. Leon R. Lara de Araújo, 1º GAC 2nd Flight
Note : propeller hub was silver, not black as shown;
B6 arrived in January,19 1945, being posted in the reserve ranks, but not for long, for days later it was assigned to Second-Lieutenant leon Lara Roussouliers de Araújo.
It was marked with the US-style nationality insignia, had the Curtiss Electric propeller and spoked wheels. It flew in the Brazilian Air Force up to 1953.
All interior, engine colors were Republic standard, so use USAAF Jugs to orient yourself.
There are many other quite interesting First Brazilian Fighter Group P-47D Thunderbolt camouflage schemes, but this will be part of future articles, if any interest arises at all.
I do hope honestly a little bit else of the history of the Brazilians could be shown here to the benefit of those gallant men and of those modelers who do wish to represent their mounts as well (thanks Steve Stohr).
For those interested in more info, this could be achieved at the websites (besides those already listed above) :
Any contacts concerning this article can be made at :
Brazilian Air Force
Photos and text © by Marcus V.T. Borges & Jairo A.O. Mello