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P-47D-30RE Thunderbolt BasicKit (48023) 1:48


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P-47D-30RE Thunderbolt BasicKit (48023)

1:48 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd




The Thunderbolt developed from a series of less-than-successful earlier designs that saw Seversky aviation change to Republic, and the project designation from P-35, to P-43 and P-44, each with its own aggressive sounding name. After a realisation that their work so far wasn't going to cut it in the skies over war-torn Europe, they went back to the drawing board and produced the P-47A that was larger, heavier, and sported the new Pratt & Whitney R-2800 18-cylinder radial that would also power the B-26 Marauder, P-61 Black Widow and F4U Corsair amongst others. With it they added eight .50cal Browning machine guns aligned along the axis of flight in the wing leading edge.


The P-47A was still a small aircraft, and was initially ordered without military equipment to allow faster completion, but it was considered inferior to the competition then available, so an extensive re-design was ordered that resulted in the much larger P-47B, firing up to 100 rounds per second from the eight .50cal wing guns, and with a maximum speed of over 400mph, leaving just the fuel load slightly short of requirements.  It first flew mid-1941, and despite being a heavy-weight, its performance was still excellent, and the crash of the prototype didn’t affect the order for over 700 airframes, which were fitted with a more powerful version of the R-2800 and a sliding canopy that made ingress and egress more streamlined, particularly when bailing out of a doomed aircraft.  Minor re-designs to early production airframes resulted in a change to the P-47C, which meant that fewer than 200 Bs were made, the C benefitting from improved radio, oxygen systems, and a metal rudder to prevent flutter that had been affecting control at certain points in the performance envelope.  A quick way to spot a B is the forward raked aerial mast behind the cockpit, as this was changed to vertical on the C and beyond.  The production from a new factory that had been opened to keep up with demand led to the use of the D suffix, although they were initially identical to the C, but the cowling flaps were amended later, making it easier to differentiate.  Of course, the later bubble-canopy P-47s were far easier to tell apart from earlier marks, and constant improvement in reliability, performance and fuel load was added along the way.  The P-47D-25 carried more fuel for extended range, including piping for jettisonable tanks on the bomb racks for even more fuel. Taking a cue from the British designers, the bubble-top was developed and that improved all-round visibility markedly, although like the later mark Spitfires, later models incorporated a fin extension to counter the yaw issues that resulted.  Its weight, firepower and seemingly unstoppable character led to the nickname ‘Juggernaut’, which was inevitably shortened to ‘Jug’ and led to many, many off-colour jokes during and after the war.  Jokes that are still soldiering on to this day, despite being eligible for a pensioner’s bus pass.  The -30RE was built at the Farmingdale factory, and was fitted with dive brakes and some other minor changes, such as the fillet on the fin for added stability.


The Jug was used extensively in the European theatre as an escort fighter, where it performed well in its ideal high-altitude environment. Later in the war when the Luftwaffe was a spent force, it also went on to become a highly successful ground attack fighter, strafing and bombing targets of opportunity, and eschewing camouflaged paintwork to add some extra speed with a smooth (and shiny) bare metal finish.  As well as flying with the US forces, many P-47s were flown by the other Allies, including the British, Russians, and after the war many other countries as the remainder were sold off as war surplus.



The Kit

This is a variant of a brand-new tooling from MiniArt, in the process of creating a range of kits that are set to become the de facto standard Thunderbolt in this scale.  The kit arrives in one of their sturdy top-opening boxes with a dramatic painting of the subject on the front, and profiles of the decal options on one side, reserving the other side for practical details and text.  Inside the box are nineteen sprues in grey styrene, although in our sample many of the sprues were handily still connected by their runners, which simplified photography.  There is also a clear sprue, two sheets of decals split between markings and stencils, and the instruction booklet, which is printed on glossy paper in colour, with profiles for the decal options on the rear pages, plus detailed painting and decaling information on the weapons and tanks on the back page.  Detail is phenomenal, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt in the last several years, with fine engraved panel lines, recessed rivets, plus raised and recessed features where appropriate, as well as fine detail in the cockpit, wheel bays and engine.  If you’ve seen their AFV kits you’ll know what to expect, but this is something special in this reviewer’s humble opinion.

























Construction begins with the highly detailed cockpit, starting by putting the seat together from base, back and two side parts, which have elements of the seatbelts moulded-in, and are finished off by putting the remainder of the lap belts on the seat pan.  A pair of support are inserted into recesses in the back of the seat, then it is installed on the ribbed floor, which has control column, plus seat-adjuster, and two other levers inserted, after which the rear bulkhead, one of the cockpit sidewalls and the front bulkhead are added, trapping the rudder bar with moulded-in pedals between them.  The starboard sidewall has a hose added, and a scrap diagram shows the detail painting as well as the location of the decals that need to be applied.  A cushion is applied to the head armour, then the other sidewall is detailed with four controls, numerous decals and more detail painting, so that it can be inserted along with the instrument panel and auxiliary panel, both of which have decals for the dials, with a choice of two for the main panel.  The tail wheel is made up in preparation for closing the fuselage, building a four-part strut that holds the wheel on a one-sided yoke, then adding a small curved bulkhead with sprung bumper at the front, or an alternative assembly can be made from four different parts plus wheel, which is less detailed as the mechanism is hidden by a canvas cover.  The fuselage halves are new toolings that have a fillet moulded into the spine in front of the tail fin, and are prepared by adding two extra detail parts to the short sill panels that have ribbing moulded-in, and should be painted to match the cockpit.  At the rear on the underside, the supercharger fairing is slotted into the starboard fuselage along with the tail gear bay, and at the front, a cooling vent and a centreline insert are added to the underside, fitting another vent to the port fuselage half in the same place.  The fuselage can then be closed around the cockpit, adding the aerial mast into a slot in the starboard spine, although whether that will remain there until the end of the building and painting is a moot point, and I’d be tempted to nip it off at the base, gluing the base in to act as a socket for the aerial after the heavy work is over.  There is a fuselage insert in front of the cockpit, and that has the two-part gunsight with clear lens added to the centre, and another equipment box on the port side before it is inserted and joined by a firewall that closes the front of the fuselage.



The engine is a highly-detailed assembly that is created by joining the two fully-rendered banks of pistons together by a keyed peg, adding the push-rod assembly to the front, the ends of which mate with a circular support that is the frame onto which the cowling panels are added later.  The reduction-housing bell is detailed with magnetos and other parts, plus a collet at the centre where the prop-shaft would be.  This is joined to the front of the engine as it is mounted to a bulkhead at the rear, again on a keyed ring.  The intake trunking at the bottom of the nose cowling is made from five parts and installed in the lower panel, and you have a choice of open or closed vents on the sides of the fuselage by using the appropriate parts, and in the same step, the rudder is completed by adding an insert at its widest point (the bottom), to avoid sink marks, following which it is mated to the fin on three hinges, allowing deflection if you wish.  Going back to the engine, the finished assembly is enclosed by four segments of cowling, and at the rear you have a choice of open or closed cooling gills, using different parts to achieve the look you want.  Under the tail, your choice of wheel assembly is inserted in the bay, with doors on each side, or if you are building your model in flight, a closed pair of doors is supplied as a single part, adding a small outlet further forward under the fuselage.




The upper wing halves have well-defined ribbing detail moulded into the interior, which is augmented by fitting an insert, two rib sections, front and rear walls that form the tabs to mate to the fuselage, and an additional structure that has a retraction jack pushed through hole in one of the wall segments.  The flaps are made from two sides, plus a pair of hinges and these are glued into the trailing edge of the wing with the ailerons, the remaining details of the gear bay, which includes another retraction jack, the gun barrels on a carrier to achieve the correct vertically stepped installation, plus a pitot probe, and the wingtip light, which can be fitted now because the complete tip is moulded into the upper wing so that it can be portrayed as scale thickness.  A scrap diagram of the lower wing shows the location of the flashed-over holes that you can drill out for weapons, then it can be glued to the upper, along with an insert at the rear of the gear bay, which includes a moulded-in dive brake, and another near the tip with a flush landing light.  The same process is then carried out in mirror-image for the other wing, omitting the pitot and landing light insert, after which the wheels and their struts are made up, each wheel made from two halves plus a choice of three hub types, and two styles of wheels are also provided, one without a flat-spot, the other under load on the ground, leaving it for you to decide which you prefer.  The struts are detailed with separate oleo scissor-links and stencil decals, and are mated with their wheels, plus the captive gear bay doors, the lower door made from two layers, again to avoid sink-marks.


The wings are glued to the fuselage with a stepped joint making for a stronger bond, and the elevator panels are each slotted into the tail, and have separate flying surfaces that can be posed deflected, each one a single part for finesse.  If you are building your model with the gear down, the inner gear bay doors are fitted to the fuselage, which contains the inner edge of the main gear bays, so remember to paint that while you are doing the rest of the bays.  The engine assembly with cowling is also mated to the firewall, locating on a pair of alignment pins.  If you plan on making an in-flight model, there are two single parts that depict the closed main bays, or you can insert the two struts with their wheels for the grounded aircraft.  The four centreline supports are fitted between the main bays for some decal options, then the model can be flipped over to stand on its own wheels so that the canopy can be installed, gluing the windscreen at the front with a rear-view mirror on a stalk above the frame, and deciding whether pose the blown canopy open or closed after gluing a stiffener across the underside.  The prop is also fitted, and this is made up from two parts, each consisting of two blades in opposition, and the spinner is a separate part that slots into the front section.


The Jug could carry quite a load, whether it was extra fuel, rockets or bombs, and all these are included in the box, starting with the two-part pylons, which can be depicted as empty by inserting a cover over the lower surface.  You have a choice of four styles of tank, a 108gal compressed paper tank with a ribbed nose and tail, a 200gal wide and flat tank, the third 150gal streamlined tank with flat mating surface and a peg at the rear that can be removed, and the last one slightly smaller at 75gal.  All but the third option has a pair of sway-braces between them and the pylon, which fit into slots in the pylons.  They are built in pairs to fit under the wings, but the first two options can also be used solo on the centreline support.  The bombs use the same pylons, and can be built in 1,000lb, 500lb or 250lb variants, each one made from two halves for the body and two parts for the square tails, and mated to the pylon by a pair of sway-braces that varies depending on size.  There is also a smoke generator that looks like a drop-tank with a spout on the rear, which would be used to lay smoke for the Allied troops below to cover their actions, at least temporarily. A large diagram shows the correct location for all the pylons and their loads, the centreline option having no additional pylon, mating via the four sway braces fitted earlier.




There are two decal options included on the large sheet, both of which have substantial differences in nose art on each side, which is why we’ve included a look at both side profiles to avoid confusion.  The first page of profiles are in greyscale, and detail the location of the many stencils worn by the Jug, including the pylons, all to avoid over-complication of the main profiles.   From the box you can build one of the following:


  • 346th Fighter Sqn., 350th Fighter Group, 12th Air Force, Italy 1945. Pilots: Major Charles Gilbert II & 1St Lt. Homer J St.Onge
  • 509th Fighter Sqn., 405th Fighter Group, Spring 1945. Pilot: Col. Chester Van Etten









Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas.  The instrument decals on the sheet are separated by a box of dotted lines, and you have three choices of style.  One is complete with the grey instrument panel for an all-in-one solution that is very realistic, while the others have just the dials that are printed in the shape of the panel, but are individual decals, so remember not to put them all in the water at once.




Another P-47D from MiniArt, expanding their catalogue further.  Don’t fret, I’m sure the razorback will be along soon enough.


Very highly recommended.




Review sample courtesy of


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