Academy 1/72 P-47D Thunderbolt "Eileen"
An outgrowth of the pre-war Seversky P-43 Lancer to which it bore a superficial external resemblance, the Republic XP-47B was actually an entirely new airplane having little in common with its lighter and smaller precursor.
Overshadowed by the Merlin-engined Mustang the Thunderbolt was actually built in larger numbers than any other US fighter, and along with the P-38 was the first really effective escort for USAAF heavy bombers in Europe. Had it possessed the range to accompany the bombers all the way to the heart of Germany it may well have itself received the accolades instead heaped on the Mustang. In fact, the highest scoring fighter group in the Eighth Air Force, the 56th, refused to convert to the P-51 and ended the war flying the hot-rodded P-47M.
Relegated to the ground attack role when the remaining fighter groups were equipped with Mustangs, the Thunderbolt acquitted itself well. Its sturdy construction, heavy armament, and big robust radial engine proved ideally suited to this most dangerous of missions, bringing home many a pilot after absorbing battle damage that would have downed most other fighters.
Molded in medium gray styrene the kit features finely recessed panel lines and rivet detail. The 51 gray parts are absolutely free of flash with only minor sink marks on the wing tips that should come out easily with a little block sanding. Ejector pin marks are for the most part relegated to interior surfaces where they either won't be seen or are relatively easy to fill without loss of detail. The four clear pieces are commendably thin and free of flaws but the canopy and windscreen could stand polishing and a dip in Future floor polish. Academy's model is very similar to Hasegawa's 1/72 scale version but has better cockpit detail and boxed in main gear wells (a big plus, in my view) which feature a modicum of detailing. It also provides more options in the form of underwing "bazooka" rocket launchers, bombs, two styles of drop tanks, and a choice of either Curtiss Electric or Hamilton Standard props. The hub of the former needs to be shortened a bit but it's a nice touch that both props are in the box. The kit also features a well-done P&W R-2800 engine.
The decals in this kit are really outstanding, with two choices included. The decals are very thin and registration is spot on. The first example is that seen on the boxtop, "Eileen". This is a P-47 from the 84th FS, 78th FG out of England in Autumn of 1944. The camouflage is olive drab and gray, with invasion stripes on the fuselage only. The checkered cowling is provided as a two-piece decal, as are the invasion stripes. The white tail stripe is also provided, so the only painting you really need to do here is the OD and gray. The artwork under the canopy is really nicely done, with no less than 5 colors used, all in perfect alignment. Well done Academy!
The second choice has you painting a bit more than the first. This example is from the 527th FS, 86th FG, flying out of Pisa, Italy in 1944. The plane is natural metal overall, with an olive drab anti-glare panel. The squadron markings consist of a white tail with red stripes (both right and left vertical tails and the top surfaces of the horizontal tail) and red cowl front & cowl flaps. The spinner is also red. Decals are provided for the tail markings, but you'll have to paint the red cowl front and flaps yourself. A handful of stencilling is also provided on the sheet.
A quick dry fitting of the major parts shows that this is one of those kits that can be easily built out of the box in two or three evenings. OTOH, those afflicted with AMS could add an aftermarket cockpit and engine, redo the wing guns to make them correctly parallel to the ground, sprinkle in a bit of scratchbuilt detailing, and wind up with a killer model in a week or so. Highly recommended at the very reasonable MSRP and even more so at "street" prices.
Our thanks to MRC for the review sample.