Tamiya 1/48 Thunderbolt P-47D - by Ken Niles

This is the excellent Tamiya 1/48th scale Thunderbolt P-47D kit. It is done to IPMS OOB rules.

As per the rules; aerial lines, masking tape seat belts and some items drilled or thinned changed the basic content of this kit. It is an excellent platform for getting the most out of construction and paint. My inspirations were Barracuda Studio’s “Thunderbolts of the Hell Hawks,” and the new accompanying 1/48 decal sheets that I picked up at the 2013 Nationals from Roy himself. My choice of scheme was driven by maximum NMF, as few stripes as possible, a score card that was emblematic of the Hell Hawks tactical missions and the chance to make an a/c of the Hell Hawks that was not specifically outlined in the decal instructions.

“Ol’ Smokie,” the later version, fit that bill. It had most of its black cowling color removed (a previous squadron identification method) a yellow squadron stripe added, and invasion and campaign striping removed. This version had 3 victory markings added just below the canopy. (The Hell Hawks” were ground pounders, not ace makers.) Also, there are 3 excellent photo shots of this particular version of “Ol’ Smokie” in the book itself.

I found the Barracuda Studio decals of excellent quality in printing, register and minimal carrier film. The only warning I have for them is that they stick down, hard and fast! Use plenty of your choice of distilled water, or setting solution to get them into place, but be ready to place it accurately to begin with! They settled down extremely well, but I ran a fresh scalpel blade through any panel lines anyways. They also help up nicely to my “sanding decals into the finish system.”
Other finishing products used were a combination of Alclad and Floquil silvers. Alclad aluminum is the base color and various shades of Alclad and Floquil highlighted different panels as per various b&w and color photos would indicate. Windsor/ Newton oils were used for washes, panel line high lighting and various grimy areas were mechanics and pilots worked, walked, etc. Model Master’s two shades of OD, regular and faded completed the anti-glare panels.
Some construction and finishing highlights:

The bubble top was waxed with Mother’s Carnauba car wax (great stuff for your car too!)

The aerial wire is wire from an old telephone extension cord, slightly annealed, attached to holes drilled into the insulator on the fuselage and the tab on the tail.

Wing tip lights were blended into the fuselage before painting with super glue, sanded smooth and back to clarity with Micro Mesh and waxed.

Masking tape seat belts, with additional cuts of tape to simulate buckles, pads and paint built up to indicate the belts looping through the buckles.

The gun sight glass was thinned by sanding and brought back to clarity by Micro Mesh, again, like the wing tip lights above.
The hood over the turbo exhaust gate on the belly of the a/c was thinned. Holes in the undercarriage linkage were opened, tires flattened.

After a gloss coat sealed in the decals, they are buffed with Micro Mesh to blend into the finish and the first of the panel and control surface line wash is run through. This process was started with combinations of Windsor Newton oils from light grey to dark.

The model is flat coated, and the weathering effects are added by both standard capillary action through engraved lines and then stippling a dry brush onto various areas of logical traffic, wear and tear and soot. Blow backs were simulated by dots of oil drawn back with a damp brush.

Flory paints were then used for additional mud and grime effects. These are great because they can be TRULY completely removed if necessary and also are very finely ground.

I used color pencils; raw umber, grey, white and silver and also a toothpick dipped in silver Rub & Buff for various scratches, scuffs, wear & tear on wing roots, leading edges, canopy sill, landing gear, etc.

All photos are courtesy of Tom Evens.

Barracuda Studios products used:
BC48036 Thunderbolts of the Hell Hawks
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