1/32 Trumpeter P-47D-6

Gallery Article by Douglas Conrady on Feb 3 2020

 

      

This story begins waaaay back in 1944. Imagine this, you're a young farmer on the plains of Northwest Oklahoma (waving wheat, sure smells sweet.....). Recently married, with a little one at home. Its war time and fighter and bombers are flying overhead at near tree top levels on a daily basis. Then, one day, mid June (also harvest time), you hear one having trouble. It goes down nearby. Next thing you know, there's a knock on the door. A young pilot is at your doorstep and asks to use your phone. After describing the location, you realize the fella has crashed in YOUR field, of all the gall darn places. After the locals go see the spectacle, and the USAAF comes to see, and then said AAF hauls off the plane, your left with a bunch of trampled wheat. When the government writes you a check, its only for what the plane damaged. All else is beyond their control, so no monies there.

This is a story of my grandfather. Fast forward to 1998. My grandfather had recently passed and I was talking to some family and they told me this story. OH!!! If I had only known. However, its a good thing I never knew the story. It got grandpa all sorts of fired up since the check was smaller than expected! After I learned the story, I knew I had to make a model of this story but, nobody knew any more than the basic story as seen above. A few years pass and the photo albums are broken up. In it is a modelers dream, a photo of the scene. EUREKA!!! The shot has everything, the plane, trucks, a car, and a lady. Who, by the way, we have no idea of her identity. In my mind, I was going to build a P-51 as the offending aircraft - popular, and plentiful. Now I had exactly what I needed - or so I thought. Doing some other research, I discovered that all the USAAF/USAF crash reports are searchable and purchasable. Well, I went hunting. Knowing what piece of ground I was looking for, I was able to narrow down the crash report query to 3 or 4. I took a chance on one that seemed to be placed at the right spot. After I got the report, I read the pilots testimony. The last sentence literally says "The field that I landed in is owned by Carl Conrady, Wakita, Oklahoma". BINGO!!!!! JACKPOT!!! WOO HOO!!!!! Now I had the time, date, where, by whom, and a whole lot of other cool information. 

Now, go back just a few years ago. The company I work for was interviewing a local farmer. Our 2 public relations people go do the story at his house. As they were leaving they see some old photos on his 'fridge. Its a crashed plane, and both instantly think of me. They take pictures of the pictures to show me. The old man tells them the story of a war fighter that had crashed not far from where he grew up when he was a kid. They return and show me the pics. Needless to say, I was amazed. Now I had 3 pictures of the same incident!!!!

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This is Trumpeter's P-47D-25, however, I was in need of a -6. So... off to the internet. I found that the only difference that I need to deal with was the cowling petals. The -6's petals were full sized all the way down. The lower 2 petals of the -25 weren't as long. That's an easy fix. Construction proceeded as instructed. In the cockpit, I did some weathering/wear & tear since this was a hard used trainer. I did build the internal trunking, but I paid it little attention. When it came time for the motor, I added copper wire for the plug wires. Being the worn trainer, I tried my hand at pre-weathering the outside too (1st time). I blackened the panel lines and painted the grey and olive drab. I think I painted too much base color because you can't see the panel lines all that well. The next hurtle was the bent prop. I studied many crashed prop planes (and my crash report) to get an idea on how to bend the blades. I pulled my trusty de-soldering iron and went about ruining a perfectly good prop. For the painting, I "weathered" the prop by adding reddish brown paint, to represent the red dirt the P-47 crashed into. The left wing was also damaged and the pitot tube ripped off. I tried to recreate that as well. After a gloss coat, the decals went down. I purchased number and letter sets to get the proper size and serial number/ID number. I gave everything a good flattening and decided to add more weathering. I dry bushed everything to try and give it a proper look. I noticed that since this plane was bombing training, it carried no guns. The pictures showed a shiny piece covering the holes. I used aluminum foil. At this point the plane was done, except for the reason it crashed, a blown engine. Before I put the nose on, I took my airbrush and blasted black in the direction of airflow. This, I think, gives the proper look of loosing the motor and it coating everything in oil. Then I put the nose on and called the plane done.

For the car, I found a toy 1941 Dodge custom town sedan, in 1/3? scale. I don't remember if it is 32nd or 35th. It came to me blue, and that wouldn't do. I tore it apart and repainted it black. There were no modifications; just black.... 

The lady took a bit to find. Most 1/35 ladies are either refugees, uniformed or... um... ah... not properly dressed for the occasion. I did find a set of 1940's ladies that were close enough - Master Box WWII Civilian women. I chose the one that was in the closest pose to my original picture. I painted her as best I could, I've not done people before.

The wheat field was a fun part. I'd delayed this project for some time trying to find the perfect material to match a 1940's wheat field. A friend mentioned a coconut door mat. BRILLIANT!!!! Close enough. I found place that would make a "door mat" ( I didn't mention its end use) in any size. Once I had it, I set about placing the plane, car, and lady to get the setting right. Then the fun part.... cutting all the "trampled wheat" out from the mat. That was a several night project because my hands hurt from all the snipping. In keeping with the reality, I left a few bunches still standing among the trampled area.

That's seems to be it, I'd like to think I've gotten close to recreating a picture of family lore.

Please email me if you've got any questions or comments.

Thanks for looking and don't throw rotten tomatoes!

Douglas Conrady

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Photos and text by Douglas Conrady