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 1/48 Revell Monogram P-47N

Thunderbolt

by Tim Campbell

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I’m afraid you will need to look elsewhere for the history on this one - I did no research at all on this aeroplane. I was given this kit as a gift by my father-in-law - he said he loved the nose art (2 Big and 2 Heavy). I can’t think why… 

Funnily enough I would not have chosen this kit myself as the subject doesn’t really interest me, but I have to admit the Jug has a certain “heavyweight” charm, and the kit is quite impressive when built up. I wasn’t really aware of the size of this aeroplane until I had a Jaguar of the same scale alongside during a sanding stint - it’s huge compared to the jet.

Opening the box presents the modeller with separately packed sprues in silver-grey. The moulding is disappointing, with very indistinct panel lines and rivet detail that peters out halfway along the surface. However, the cockpit is well detailed considering that one often gets very little in many injection moulded kits. 

I was going to add Cutting Edge’s seat but its cost in Europe is half that of the kit, so I made do with thinning down the seat, making a new mount and attachment points from scrap plastic and adding seatbelts from masking tape. The cockpit builds up into a nice little tub which can then be inserted from below once the fuselage halves have been assembled.

The lower wing is a one piece moulding including a fuselage section. The undercarriage bays (with landing gear attached) are assembled first, sandwiching them in between the upper and lower sections. This is certainly a novel approach (and overly complicated and a complete pain) which leaves the inner undercarriage doors and gear legs permanently in the way. I should have ignored the instructions and cut off the gear legs to attach later with a bit of pinning for strength, but there you go.

 This wings also have an awful join line underneath, running their full length, halfway through all the flaps and ailerons - not the best idea in the world. So, filler and lots of careful sanding was needed here. Even so, my result is at best satisfactory.

The fuselage was then glued together, although I left out the daft antennae insert, blocking that with some plastic scrap and drilling holes instead in order to attach the antennae later. The cockpit assembly was inserted and glued before attaching the wing assembly. After this, the fuselage underside needed a hell of a lot of sanding as there was a big step at the fuselage/wing joints.

This in turn meant a lot of rescribing, which is not my favourite task. However, a bit of patience, some Dymo tape cut into thin strips and careful use of the scriber gave me a good result. I used a mini drill to replace lost rivet detail along both the underside and the topside wing root.

The engine mould lines were cleaned up as best as possible before the assembly was sprayed with ModelMaster Steel Metaliser. After polishing this up and painting various details in black and silver, the front crankcase was attached and painted grey as per the instructions. For an injection moulded engine it’s a very good attempt, to be fair. The inside of the cowling was painted Zinc Chromate and the splitter/intake aluminium Metaliser before this was all attached to the rest of the airframe.

 After a lot of sanding and rescribing, the kit was ready for some primer (and it needed it!). Just before painting, I attached the gun inserts (another awful design feature) to the leading edge and cleaned up the join line carefully with a very sharp X-Acto blade.

I had wanted to try Alclad II aluminium but was not confident that I had done enough preparation on the kit for a decent BMF. Instead, I decided to spray with some silver car paint. This at least smoothed out some irregularities in my finish. Bizarrely though, the R-M trademark on the underside of the port flap is still visible. This was sanded out before priming and I don't remember noticing it when I smoothed off the primer finish with some worn 1200 wet'n'dry. 

After leaving this for a couple of days to get good and hard, I started with some SnJ aluminium powder. I wasn't expecting much, in all honesty, as the silver spray finish was about as far away from a BMF as you could hope for! However, with a bit of polishing, the finish really started to get that "metal" look to it.

This unexpected positive turn of events spurred me on to complete the kit. I masked off the OD antiglare bands and the yellow nose cowling and tail tips with thin strips of Tamiya masking tape (to follow the contours easily) and then masked off the surrounding areas with wide masking tape.

Rather than make my usual mistake in airbrushing paint too thick, I really thinned the stuff down this time (Tamiya acrylics thinned with isopropyl) and took my time, making numerous passes, gradually building up the colour. Finally, a decent scale finish (unlike my numerous grainy models of the past) with very little effort. So, at least I was learning something with this model.

I then started on the final bits and pieces - gear doors, rockets, fuel tanks etc. I wanted a “clean” look to this one and ended up leaving off the tanks. Also, the rockets were cut off and just the stubs were attached. This took a lot longer than I expected as they needed a lot of cleaning up! The main gear doors had two deep sink marks on each one which were filled with Tamiya putty before priming, painting and rubbing with SnJ. The prop also had a few sink marks to be dealt with in the same manner. 

I got as far as gluing the wheel halves together and starting to clean up the tread before deciding to knock that on the head and replace them with a pair of True Details ones. It was either spend the whole afternoon recutting the tread or spending the afternoon down the model shop. So that's what I did. Although very under-inflated, these wheels look the business, and the time/money ratio was worth it to me.

I airbrushed the wheels dark grey and then did the metal parts with a silver rollerball. Lazy, but it looked fine after the black wash was added.

Click on images below to see larger images.

Revell's decals seem to come in for a lot of flak, but these were well printed, in register, and went on fine. They behaved a lot like Propagteam decals, in that, once on, they stuck where they were. This isn't a great problem as I just float them off with some MicroSet and reposition. OK, so the busty young lady on the port side is not fantastically detailed, but then these are not aftermarket decals, and they look fine from the appropriate distance. I took a 5/0 brush and added her eyes, eyebrows and a bit of lipstick just to give a bit of definition.

There are loads of maintenance stencils, so I took my time over a few days, marking each one off on the instruction sheet as I went. In the end I was missing some, and had some others left over. Strange but nothing too drastic.

I didn't have any problem with the decals silvering on the OD or yellow surfaces (both matt paints but which I had "polished" with paper tissue) and just went over these surfaces with some Humbrol Satincote to blend in the decals.

For finishing off, I didn't do a panel line wash as I thought this would have been very unrealistic. I just restricted myself to chipping tiny amounts of the OD along panel lines, and adding a bit of Tamiya "smoke" here and there. The canopy and windscreen frames were brush painted as the lines were well defined, first with Interior Green and then Tamiya Silver. These were then fixed in place with Humbrol Clearfix. Once dry the windscreen joint was faired in and touched up.

Click on images below to see larger images.

In summary, then, not a fantastic kit. Fit was relatively poor all around, the panel lines and other surface markings are very indistinct, and the parts are really not that well moulded. I rescribed the major fuselage lines and the upper wing surfaces but balked at all the tiny access panels (most of which are underneath the wings) hence no shots of the underside.

All that said, it was a challenge and a test of my patience, and I'm fairly happy with the result. I only really "got going" on this one once I started on the decals. Disappointing surface detail, average fit and some bizarre choices in engineering (antenna insert, undercarriage) are the downsides, but the decals were good and it looks like a Thunderbolt, so it's not all bad.

Tim

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Photos and text © by Tim Campbell

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