1/48 Academy P-47D Thunderbolt

by Mark Houpt



The P-47D Thunderbolt 'Boilermaker Pete II' was flown by Lt. Paul Church. I was inspired to build the model by Lt. Church's visit to the local Indianapolis IPMS club lat September. During that time he told of various exploits while flying for the 86FS, 79th FG out of Italy during WWII.

    The kit is the Academy kit 1:48 P-47D, which is an excellent kit. I later found out, through further research of the actual aircraft that I should have used the Hasegawa kit simply because it comes with the parts to make the D-30 variant of the P-47D Bubbletop, which was the version Lt Church flew. The one part that is missing is the spine piece in front of the vertical tail. I decided not to disrupt the already completed model to add that piece and make a few other modifications (talked about later) but instead just build another one (ohh, too bad I get to build another model).  Construction of the kit was straight from the box with just a few items such as hypo needles for the guns, aftermarket decals, brass wire for the push rods and antenna wire added. There were a could of fit problems on the underside, especially back by the tail wheel but nothing that cannot be corrected with time and effort.


My biggest hang up was doing the natural metal finish. I have never had good luck with doing them when other colors and masking is involved. Then a friend of mine told me his secret. A product by Krylon called Short Cuts and the color used  was Aluminum. This paint is much like metalizer and has actual aluminum chips in the paint. It is out of the jar ready to air brush. I airbrushed the kit with the Short Cuts and then masked for the green (olive drab) upper and cowling surfaces as well as the blue (FS 15102 'True Blue') for the tail.  All paints except the aluminum are Testors Model Master. The masking tape was put down very heavily and when peeled off a few hours later, there was not a single tape mark. I have now progressed in using the Short Cuts and am experimenting with using shades of the aluminum and chrome to make different panels stand out. 


The Short Cuts bottles are hard to find but I have found them in Menards and Ace hardware stores. Unfortunately if you walk into a Sherwin Williams store (they make the Krylon) the staffs of the stores I have been in disavow any knowledge of the product being from them - even with the empty bottle in hand. Some club members have told me if you push enough and get the right shop keeper, you can special order an entire case. 


The decals are from Super Scale sheet 48-623. The aircraft pictured followed the markings sheet that is contained within the Super Scale package. Further research by one of the other club members talking directly with Lt Church and reviewing his personal photos has indicated that the Super Scale paint markings are wrong and my next aircraft will reflect Lt Church's memory and photos of his aircraft. The few things that should be changed are the spinner on the prop should be red, the cowling flaps in-between the top and bottom green anti-glare panels should be the same blue as the tail and the horizontal stabilizers should also be the same blue as the tail.

    I have enjoyed building this model and showing it off. It has also inspired me to look 'closer to home' for subjects of my models. It seems that markings on a/c like this strike up interesting conversations and the such when around friends and neighbors. I have since started work on a couple of other "Indiana" kits and am now working on an F-84E "Hoosier Hot Shots" a/c from the Korean War. Well see how that one turns out before it shows up on ARC.


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Photos and text by Mark Houpt