1° Grupo De Aviação De Caça (1st Brazilian Fighter Group)

Part Three:
The Modeling Chapter

Compiled By
Marcus V.T. Borges &
Jairo A.O. Mello

Artwork by Felipe Canuto Miranda

 

Photo showing the OD/NG finish (Maj Buyers,USAAF)

Introduction

For some reason the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) is not well covered by many renowned historians.  Let us remember that it was, by Churchill’s wisdom, from the Med that the Allies would invade the whole Europe and defeat Germany, as they had a foothold on the continent in the spring of 1943 in the Italian ‘boot’, while the invasion of France, Operation Overlord, would only be possible in mid-44. It is not surprising that this subject is overshadowed by the later ETO counterpart in terms of publications and material available in our days, due to the much more publicized Normandy invasion.   However, it was a campaign that would cost dearly for the Allies, and was to be the stage for many heroic acts, from both sides.

To help improve matters, I will try to present a little known chapter of this story, via the aviation component, focusing on the First Brazilian Fighter Group’s P-47D Thunderbolts, their camouflage schemes and operational peculiarities. I do think will be interesting to many modelers who try to make something less obvious and common without being overly exotic.

The main objective for the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces was battlefield interdiction. The Luftwaffe, from 1943 on, was just a shadow of its past size and efficiency due to the need of defending the Reich. Most missions were left to the remnants of the former Regia Aeronautica, now ANR (Aeronautica Nazionale Reppublicana), which were concentrated in the industrial zone of Northern Italy with a mix of Italian and German equipment.

However, as to ground forces, matters were completely different. The Wehrmacht was still a respectable force to deal with and fought hard before leaving ground, many times with horrendous losses for both sides. Most of the strategic Allied air forces were directed to attack the Reich itself, while the tactical ones were used for battlefield interdiction. Through these tactics reinforcements for the Axis forces had their pathways destroyed, decreasing their overall efficiency.

The 1º Grupo de Caça, according to this doctrine, had as its main objective the tactical support of the ground forces. The equipment available, the rugged P-47D Thunderbolt (Bubbletop version only*), was ideally suited to these demands.


Legend:

Bomba: Bomb
de: of
lançador: launcher
Morteiros: Rockets
Tanque: Fuel Tank
Gal: Gallons
£: Pound

*There was ONE P-47D Razorback in Brazilian Air Force use, as an instructional airframe within Brazil.

Weapons Array

The armament used by the Jugs consisted of various combinations of Bazooka rockets and bombs, combined with the plane’s eight machine guns, as well as drop tanks of different capacities, according to the distance to the target of the day.

Camouflage & Markings

Most of the Thunderbolts, as supplied by USAAF Aircraft Depots, were camouflaged by the USAAF standard of Olive Drab (FS 34087) upper surfaces and Neutral Grey (FS 36173) undersurfaces, while some were left in Natural Metal Finish (NMF). They came from the factory with the Brazilian style of national insignias, being stars with the Brazilian national colors of green, yellow, blue and white in four wing positions, while the rudder was painted in green and yellow.

However, this system of demarcation caused some mishaps in the theater, for this kind of insignia was quite different from the USAAF standard, and initially the Brazilian planes so-marked were almost shot down by friendly (?) aircraft. It was then decided to incorporate the US-style nationality markings, exchanging the US white star for the Brazilian one. In this manner the Brazilian P-47’s often wore insignias in six positions (it is interesting to note that the first nationality insignias applied were indeed DECALS!).

Nowadays, there is only one decal sheet manufacturer which correctly represents Brazilian P-47D’s, FCM Decals from Brazil (normally available from the manufacturer, or from Hannant’s, UK), and just a single AeroMaster decal sheet called “Luscious Latin Jugs” (but only in 1/48th scale, as to my knowledge), with only one Brazilian plane, a NMF one, Black 2.

As to kits available to represent the Brazilian Thunderbolts, the recommended ones are:

1/72nd Scale

  1. Hasegawa:
    An older mold, it is poorly equipped to represent many of the Brazilian planes, but it can be used successfully.

  2. Academy:
    This kit is better suited because of its great armament array, including the hard to find Bazooka rockets, permitting to represent many of the 1º  GAC planes.

1/48th Scale

  1. Hasegawa:
    This late mold is of outstanding quality, but it deserves the same comments of its 1/72 counterpart...

  2. Academy:
    Similarly, this kit receives exactly the same comments of its 1/72 brother...

Notes:

  • It is important to say that only the Hasegawa P-47D-30/40 kit has the infamous Dorsal Fin that equipped many of the Brazilian Thunderbolts, as to improve stability. Many P-47D arrived without it, and later were retrofitted with it...later all were already supplied with it.

  • There are other P-47D Thunderbolt kits on the market, but the above named are the ones which require the fewest modifications needed to correctly represent Brazilian planes. As always, the final decision resides with the modeler.

  • Some of the P-47D used the Hamilton-Standard propeller, which is available, in 1/48th scale, only in

    the Monogram’s Bubbletop P-47D or the Hasegawa’s “Gabreski” special edition.


Box art on a Revell 1/32 P-47D kit issued to the Brazilian market in the 1970s.

Aircraft Profiles

Well, enough talking; let us go to the Brazilian P-47D Thunderbolt profiles (courtesy of “Jambock”, FCM Decals 1/48 sheet, by Felipe C. Miranda).

1. P-47D-25RE 4226450, “Black 1”, Lt.-Col. Nero Moura, 1° GAC Commander

This aircraft has some corrections that need to be done to the above profile (the wings shown are the upper ones):

  • Upper left wing insignia was of the North American “big” standard type (exactly the same used on US Thunderbolts), with Brazilian colors (the size depicted is identical to the fuselage one, which is wrong);

  • Propeller hub was silver, not black as shown;

  • There is a replacement panel installed, and two “rudder green” dots (the airbrush clogged, but then cleared by  air pressure...);

  • Hamilton-Standard propeller and disc-covered wheels;

  • Black anti-glare stripe/serial number/bombing mission symbols.


A photo showing the NMF finish at 1° GAC airdrome (Maj Buyers,USAAF)

This aircraft was one of the first to arriveat Tarquinia, being at the time the only one in NMF.

Note: the site from where the photo has been acquired authorized its use. It is the BSB Cinema site, which recently produced the documentary film “Senta a Púa”, about 1° GAC adventures in the MTO. It is worth a visit, for it has the English version. “Senta a Púa” will also be released in English. More info at the site itself with BSB staff.

2. P-47D-28RA 4228986, “White B6”, Lt. Leon R. Lara de Araújo, 1° GAC 2nd Flight

Note : propeller hub was silver, not black as shown;

B6 arrived in January,19 1945, being posted in the reserve ranks, but not for long, for days later it was assigned to Second-Lieutenant Leon Lara Roussouliers de Araújo.

It was marked with the US-style nationality insignia, had the Curtiss Electric propeller and spoked wheels. It flew in the Brazilian Air Force up to 1953.

Conclusions

All interior, engine colors were Republic standard, so use USAAF Jugs to orient yourself.

There are many other quite interesting First Brazilian Fighter Group P-47D Thunderbolt camouflage schemes, but this will be part of future articles, if any interest arises at all.

I do hope honestly a little bit else of the history of the Brazilians could be shown here to the benefit of those gallant men and of those modelers who do wish to represent their mounts as well (thanks Steve Stohr).

For those interested in more info, this could be achieved at the websites (besides those already listed above):

http://www.mat.ufrgs.br/~rudnei/FAB/english.html

http://www.iis.com.br/~mdau/


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