P-47 Bubbletop #2

Gallery Article by Mark L. Rossmann on July 27 2020


The P-47 was an outstanding escort and ground attack aircraft and was the heaviest and largest single seat fighter built during WWII. It rose out of a humble beginning which saw use by U.S., British, French, Mexican, Brazilian and Russian air forces.

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The Eighth Air Force was established on February 1, 1942, with responsibilities in the northern European war zone. The Eighth switched from the plane-in-group numbering system to the use of the same coding system of the R.A.F.; 2 Squadron characters and an aircraft letter flanking the national insignia( I.E. “E2 A” 361st FG 375th FS aircraft “A”). Initial color of the codes was grey, then white, when all aluminum aircraft appeared, they were black. Night Fighters didn’t have codes. When there were to many aircraft in a unit and not enough letters, a horizontal code was drawn under the aircraft code for identification. 

The first fighter used by the Eighth was the British Spitfire with U.S. markings. This was followed by the first U.S. type, the P-38. However, it didn’t engage the Luftwaffe in combat and were sent to North Africa. The P-47C was the first U.S. made aircraft to do battle in Europe, in April 1943. It was the only single seat fighter with an air-cooled engine, along with the Fw-190A, in Europe. To better identify the P-47, before entering combat; a) the national insignia on the underside was enlarged and placed on both wings, b) front 24 inches of the cowling were painted white, c) 12 inch stripe was added to the vertical stabilizer, d) 15 inch wide stripe was added to the horizontal stabilizer, later black on unpainted aircraft. Stripes fell out of use in late ‘44’ and by 1945 only a few units had them. By the end all fighter units of the 8th had Mustangs, except the famed 56th FG.

Eighth Air Force headquarters was reassigned to Sakugawa (Kadena Airfield), Okinawa, on July 16, 1945, being assigned to the United States Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific without personnel or equipment. The atomic bombings of Japan led to the Japanese surrender before Eighth Air Force saw action in the Pacific theater. Eighth Air Force remained in Okinawa until June 17, 1946, having received its first B-29’s on August 8th 1945.

The Ninth Air Force was originally the V Air Support Command activated on September 1, 1941. War came upon us and it was redesignated the Ninth Air Force in April 1942. Posted to Egypt, the Ninth began operations on November 12, 1942. It participated in the Allied drive across Egypt and Libya, the campaign in Tunisia, and the invasions of Sicily and Italy. In October of 1943 it was transferred to the ETO to become the tactical air force for the invasion of the continent. The Ninth was subject to the same markings and paint schemes as the Eighth A.F.

Stationed in England then on the continent, it helped prepare for the assault on Normandy, building its FG with mostly P-47’s and some units with P-51’s and P-38’s, supported operations on the beach in Jun 1944, and took part in the drive that carried the Allies across France and culminated in victory over Germany in May 1945. The Ninth was inactivated in Germany on 2 Dec 1945.

The FEAF headquarters moved to Australia and was reorganized and redesignated 5 Air Force on 5 February 1942. It was re-staffed at Brisbane, Australia on 18 September 1942 and placed under the command of Major General George Kenny. The 5th had responsibilities for the southwest and central Pacific. The 348th FG was the first 5th Air Force P-47 unit to see action, in New Guinea, in June of 1943. The 58th FG became operational in February 1944. P-38’s were the preferred fighter with 2 engines, giving pilots a sense of security on long flights over the ocean, however, the P-47 was issued because of the short supply of P-38’s and by the early 1944 General Kenny, commander of the 5th, had no less than 11 Thunderbolt squadrons available.

The new United States Far East Air Forces (FEAF) was created on August 3, 1944, containing the 5th, 13th and 7th Air Forces.

5th AF Thunderbolt pilots scored many victories in the air, to the likes of 4 four Betty bombers on 26th December 1943 by Lt. Lawrence O’Neill and Maj. William Dunham’s 16 victories all in P-47’s, except #16. The last unit to retain the P-47 was the 58th FG, the remaining converting to P-51’s or P-38’s, it was bolstered by a squadron of Mexican P-47’s in May 1945.The 58th fought in the battle for Luzon and in July the 5th AF moved to Okinawa flying ground target missions against Formosa and Kyushu until the end of the war.

The Fifth Air Force had an unmatched record of 3,445 aerial victories and the nation's two top fighter aces Major Richard Bong and Major Thomas McGuire, flying P-38’s. 

The Fifth Air Force relocated to Irumagawa Air Base, Japan, about September 25, 1945 as part of the Allied Occupational Forces and remained in Japan until December, 1 1950.

All models built up well, each has its own building points

Note: After the block number, Evansville aircraft were identified by the -RE suffix, while Farmingdale aircraft were given the -RA suffix.

“Stinky”, P-47D-30-RE, (44-33418) – Unknown disposition
Unit: 9Th AF: 365th FS / 358th FG, Base Y-59, Sandhofen, Germany May 1945.
Pilot: Lt. Don Volkmer

Model: Tamiya 1/48th, AeroMaster Decals – 48-083 Thunderbolts Galore II
Fin Filet from Hasegawa kit.

“Miss Fire / Rozzie Geth II”, P-47D-28-RA, (42-226628) – Unknown disposition
Unit: 8th AF: 62nd FS / 56th FG, Halesworth England fall 1944.
Pilot: Col. Fred J. Christensen, 21.5 kills using 5 different P-47’s, making him the 20th ranking U.S. ace of WWII for all aircraft types. On July 6th 1944, he became an “Ace in a Day” when he shot down six JU-52 transports over Gardelegen Airfield.
Model: Tamiya 1/48th, Zotz Decals – ZTZ48/036 Thunderbolt.
**Note:("Rozzie Geth" was a diminutive of the name of a college girlfriend, Rosamand Gethro.)

“Passionate Patsey”, P-47D-28-RA, (42-29091) – Unknown Disposition
Unit: 5th AF: 310th FS / 58th FG, Luzon, Spring 1945.
Pilot: Lt. Ralph Barnes
Model: Hasegawa 1/48th, Kagero decals from SMI Library book.
Paint: Tamiya sprays: AS-6 Olive Drab, TS-30 Silver, TS-86 Pure Red, TS-29 Gloss Black, TS-47 Chrome Yellow, TS-34 Camel Yellow. 
Testers Sprays: Flat White, Blue, Gloss Competition Orange.


1. American Fighters over Europe – Fine Scale Modeler
2. Wikipedia
3. P-47 Thunderbolt with the USAAF in the MTO, Asia and Pacific – SMI Library (Kagero) 
4. AeroMaster Decals – 48-083 Thunderbolts Galore II

Thanks to Steve for his great site and providing readers a means to provide articles.


Mark L. Rossmann

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Photos and text © by Mark L. Rossmann