Trumpeter 1/32 P-47N Thunderbolt
Trumpeter 1/32 P-47N Thunderbolt
Originally designed as a high
altitude interceptor, in which range would not be a major consideration, the
P-47's role changed completely when it was the only American fighter with much
chance against the Luftwaffe, and was thus pressed into service as an escort
fighter, a role that sorely taxed the airplane. In 1944, the P-47 gave way to
the P-51 in this role, and the Thunderbolt
became the scythe that provided
tactical air support for the Allied armies, a task at which it excelled.
In 1943, consideration was given to
extending the P-47's range, since the coming B-29 campaign against Japan would
need long range escort fighters with even greater range than that of the P-51.
In the spring of 1944, four P-47D-27-RE airframes were taken off the Farmingdale
production line and fitted with the Pratt & Whitney R-2800-57(C) engine which -
driving a larger CH-5 turbosupercharger -
could produce a war emergency power
of 2800 hp at 32,500 feet with water injection. These aircraft became the
prototypes for the P-47M series.
That summer, the third YP-47M
prototype was fitted with a new "wet" wing of greater span and area. For the
first time in the Thunderbolt series, a 93 US gallon tank was fitted in each
wing. When maximum external tankage was carried, total fuel load of the XP-47N
was an impressive 1266 US gallons, making possible a range of 2350 miles.
Additionally, the new wing incorporated
ailerons and squared-off wingtips, which enhanced the roll-rate and improved
maneuverability. The dorsal fin was larger than that on the P-47D. In order to
cope with the increased gross weight from the increased fuel load, the
undercarriage had to be strengthened, which increased weight still further. The
maximum weight rose to over 20,000 pounds, making the P-47N the biggest,
heaviest piston-engine single seat fighter to ever see service.
XP-47N flew for the first time on July 22, 1944.
Following a production contract for
1,900 P-47Ns that had been ordered on June 20, 1944. The first P-47N-1-RE
appeared in September, 1944, with 24 delivered by year's end. The P-47N-5-RE and
subsequent batches had zero-length rocket launchers added.
1,667 P-47Ns were produced at
Farmingdale between December 1944 and December 1945, when the line finally
closed. 149 other P-47Ns were built at Evansville factory. Performance of the
P-47N-5-RE included a maximum speed of 397 mph at 10,000 feet, 448 mph at 25,000
feet, and 460 mph at 30,000 feet. Initial climb rate was 2,770 feet per minute
at 5000 feet and 2,550 feet per minute at 20,000 feet. Range fully fueled was
The 318th Fighter Group was formed
in October 1942 from the 15th Fighter Group and the 18th Fighter Group. The 73rd
and 333rd Fighter Squadrons were transferred in November 1942 and January 1943.
In March 1943, the 44th was transferred out and replaced by the 19th Fighter
Squadron. At this time the group was equipped with P4OKs, P4ONs, and A24s, which
were replaced in June 1943 by
P-39Qs. In December 1943 the P-39s
of the 72nd Fighter Squadron were catapulted from the deck of the CVE Nassau, to
Makin atoll on the island of
In early 1944, the 318th
was equipped with the P-47D, and in late June 1944 they were transported by CVE
to the Marianas, where they operated from Saipan in the ground support role,
where they pioneered the first use of napalm.
In March 1944, the 318th
became the first fighter group to re-equip with the new P-47N-1 Thunderbolt.
Following the invasion of Okinawa,
the unit moved to Ie Shima island off the northwest coast of Okinawa.
Their convoy reached the island on
April 30, where they had to wait in the middle of a road for two hours while
demolition squads cleared the heavily mined field that was their
proposed bivouac area.
That night, the ship they arrived
in was hit by a kamikaze, indicative of the hard fighting they would face in the
next two months. During the first Sunday church services at Ie Shima on May 6,
gunners shot down a kamikaze over the harbor and an anti-aircraft shell ripped
through the tent while services were being conducted. The 83 air alerts in the
Marianas were a mild preparation for an average of three foxhole sprints a day
during the first month on Ie Shima. The 318th went through 197 alerts during the
112 days from April 26 to August 15.
While preparations proceeded on Ie
Shina, the 318th
flew the longest over-water single-engine ferrying project of the war, moving
the new planes from Hawaii to Okinawa. Accompanied by engineering crews in
escorting bombers that provided
support, the 318th
flew from Oahu to Johnson to Majuro to Eniwetok to Saipan, with the first group
departing Hawaii on May 4, 1945, and the last arriving in Saipan on May 10.
Following the 4,132-mile trip to Saipan, the group flew a mission to Truk before
proceeding with a non-stop 1,425-mile flight to Ie Shima that clearly
demonstrated the long range capability of the P-47N when the first ones arrived
on May 13, 1945.
The pilots were appalled by the new
airfield. Instead of the 5,800 feet of runway needed to take off with 10 tons of
P-47 and stores, they had 3,700 feet of wet sticky rock. 73rd
FS CO Major John Hussey cut the tops off trees on his first takeoff. 333rd FS CO
Major Paul Fotjik described take off: "You put the tail wheel at the end of the
runway, applied full throttle, full turbo, and the water injection. As the tail
came up, we released the brakes. Sometimes we had to pop the flaps at the far
end of the runway to get off. Fortunately, after clearing an embankment, we had
a 400 foot drop-off to the ocean going north. We left many a wake in the water".
Okinawa was the hottest battle of
the entire Pacific War. The Kamikazes sank 15 ships, damaged 139 and killed and
injured thousands of sailors between March 27 and April 30. In 18 days, starting
with the 318th's first kill over Kyushu on May 23, the group scored 102 of its
116 Okinawa-Kyushu air victories. While the Thunderbolts often were outnumbered
15 to 1, the 318th
only lost three P-47s in air combat during the campaign.
The hottest day of the war for the
came on May 25, 1945, when two pilots jumped 30 Zekes and shot down eight in
four minutes near Ie Shima, followed by 20 pilots who scored 34 enemy planes in
four hours while breaking up a large-scale Kamikaze attack.
This set a new record for a single
fighter group in a single action.
On May 28, during a mission over
southern Kyushu, another 2-man element took on 28 Zekes, shot down six, probably
shot down two more, damaged a ninth and “scared hell out of the rest” while the
31th scored 17 confirmed kills and four probables.
These overwhelming scores
demonstrated that the majority of the Japanese pilots were barely-trained
kamikaze attackers who
have the skill to be more than a target to the well-trained Americans.
On June 10, 1945, 35 P-47Ns
escorted two PB4Y-1 Liberators on a photo mission over central Kyushu.
They were met by 134 Zekes, Jacks,
Tonys, Tojos and Georges. Most of the Thunderbolts held their defensive screen
to protect the photo planes, with only eight engaging in direct air combat, but
this resulted in claims for 10 Zekes, 6 Jacks and one twin-engine bomber.
In this fight, CAPT Judge E. Wolfe
scored 4 to bring his total to 9 and become the group’s leading ace.
While this was going on, 1st
Lt Bob Stone and eight others were on a diversionary sweep.
Running across a formation of 30
Zekes north of Kagoshima Wan, Stone got involved with 7 Zekes and shot down two.
50 more Japanese fighters were spotted and the 9 P-47Ns climbed for altitude.
Stone’s induction system had been damaged on takeoff, so he couldn't develop
full power at high altitude.
Diving to attack a lone George at
28,000 feet, he spotted 25 Zeros streaking
down on his tail. He dove for the deck, where he pulled out at tree-top level
and jinked across Kyushu with two Zekes hot on his heels and the rest strung out
Ten feet off the deck, Stone pulled
up to get over a hill, and found himself in the traffic pattern of Nittagahara
airfield, with a Betty bomber just lifting off and headed directly at him!
Stone swerved left and missed the
Betty by mere feet, while his prop
wash caught his two pursuers, throwing them together as they collided head-on
with the Betty at the end of the runway.
Air combat tapered off following
this mission, with the 318th
flying fighter-bomber missions over Kyushu, ranging out in late June to strike
the Chinese coast around Tsingtao on the Shantung peninsula, and then flying
missions over Korea in July.
As other USAAF units arrived on Ie
Shima, military civilization returned. Group Memo 18, issued in late July,
stated that "Chin whiskers will be removed." Salutes would be rendered. Officers
would wear proper insignia and noncoms their stripes.
On August 9, 1945, 333rd
Fighter Squadron pilots attacking airfields on Shikoku saw the flash and smoke
pillar of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.
There have been two different P-47N
kits released in 1/48 scale, one by Academy and one by Pro-Modeler.
While the Academy kit is easier to
build, the Pro-Modeler kit is the more accurate.
This P-47N by Trumpeter is the first of this version
of the Thunderbolt in 1/32 scale.
The kit differs from the previous
P-47D bubbletop kit in having a different fin and rudder, different wings and a
two-piece bubble canopy.
Unfortunately, it maintains the
corrugated cockpit floor of the P-47D-25.
Otherwise, it is the same
highly-detailed kit as the P-47D razorback and bubbletop kits released over the
Full detail is provided for the
Decals are provided for two
Unfortunately, like most Trumpeter
decals, they are not particularly accurate, though the nekkid wimmen for “Short
Snorter/2 Big and 2 Heavy” are good.
If you have built the Tamiya 1/48
P-47, you know everything you need to know about building this kit.
The main difference being the fact
that all the control surfaces or separate, and can be posed with flaps down,
elevators drooped, etc.
Fit is as good as the Tamiya kit,
and there are no difficulties presented in putting this model together.
I began by doing detail painting
for the cockpit, the wheel wells, and the engine.
I used Gunze Sangyo Green FS 34092
for the cockpit, and Tamiya “Yellow
Chromate” for the wheel wells and gear door interiors.
The interior cowling and the
internal structure was painted with Tamiya “Flat Aluminum.
The crankcase and magnetos were
painted with Xtracrylix RLM-02 Grey, which closely matches a color photo I ran
across of the R-2800-57(C).
The cylinders were painted with
I then proceeded to make the Eduard
seatbelts and attach them to the seat before proceeding to assemble the cockpit.
I sanded the clear instrument panel till it was paper-then, then opened up the
instrument faces, then assembled the panel “sandwich.”
Assembly of the full airframe
presented no problems.
You should note that if you are
doing a P-47N-1, the version that saw the most operational use during the war,
that it did not have the zero-length rocket stubs that were only introduced on
the P-47N-5, which wasn’t used by the Ie Shima P-47 groups.
I painted the cowling, wingtips and
tail with Tamiya “Flat Yellow, masked them off, then painted the anti-glare
panel with Gunze-Sangyo “Olive Drab,” which I then masked off.
painted the model with a base coat of Tamiya “Flat Aluminum,” before using the
Talon acrylic metalizers “Platinum,” “Aluminum” and “Dark Aluminum” for the
overall NMF finish.
I used the Zotz decals to do “2 Big
and Too Heavy/short Snorter.”
As noted, the airplane only had the
“Short Snorter” artwork on the right side of the cowling and fuselage after the
tail markings were changed to the group yellow/black “Zebra stripes” in late
Since there has been some
information that the pilot’s name panel provided in the Zotz sheet is
inaccurate, I used the name panel from the kit decals, since no one mentioned
anything about them.
I used stencil decals from a
Hasegawa 1/32 P-47 sheet.
I ended up using a final coat of
Solvaset on the decals to get them to set down nice and tight over the surface
Fortunately, I did some research on
Fighter Group and discovered that these P-47N-1s did not use the big
asymmetrical “paddle prop” everyone associates with the P-47N, but rather the
symmetrical paddle prop used with late-model P-47Ds.
Attaching the landing gear, the
canopy and the drop tanks did not present any problems.
The final result is definitely the
best-looking P-47N Thunderbolt in any scale.
The kit decals really are useless,
but the Zotz decals are perfect.
I think the Trumpeter bubble canopy
is incorrectly shaped, being more like the 1/48 Academy and Monogram canopies
than like the Hasegawa 1/32 canopy, which is completely accurate.
I contemplated using the one-piece
Hasegawa canopy, but there are no parts of the Hasegawa kit that can be
interchanged with the Trumpeter kits (other than the props and the crankcases -
with modification - for the engines).
However, this is not something that
I would consider a “deal breaker.”
Overall, this is an easy kit that
makes up into an impressive model.
The material is there for the
super-detailer to use, though such effort is not necessary to end up with a real
head-turner on your shelf.
Thanks to Stevens
International for the review kit.
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