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Tamiya's 1/72 scale
P-47D Thunderbolt

by Marty Sanford

Republic P-47D-25 Thunderbolt
42-26418, HV – A, Lt Col Francis Gabreski
61st Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force, England, 5 July 1944


Tamiya's 1/72 scale P-47D Thunderbolt is available online from Squadron.com




Tamiya 1/72 Scale P-47D Thunderbolt, Kit # 60770

Modelers have universally sung the praises of Tamiya’s P-47 kits in 1/72 scale as a dream to build; my experiences with this fantastic kit were no different. It is a well detailed, crisply molded and very well engineered kit, certainly among the best fitting kits I have ever encountered. The kit seems to capture the look, sit and dimensions of the Jug very well. Tamiya’s 1/72 Thunderbolt is a scaled down and slightly simplified version of their 1/48 Jug model, also a masterpiece. “Simplification” however does not mean that the cockpit has any less detail than the quarter scale version.

Aftermarket Items

  • Eduard 1/72 US WW2 color seatbelts, 73-004

  • Eduard 1/72 P-47D Masks, CX 046

  • Techmod Decal 72103


Most sources and articles on the colors of Lt Col Francis Gabreski’s last P-47D differ in a number of details. I settled on what I thought was a “best guess” on this popular scheme, based upon the articles and photo’s I was able to find both in print and on the internet. Interest in this scheme has risen with the recent introduction of the Hasegawa 1/32 scale P-47D, which offers Gabreski’s famous markings as one of the kit options. Incidentally, there was a great article in the July 2004 issue of Fine Scale Modeler magazine by Alfonso Martinez Berlana, in which he detailed and painted a Bubbletop Hasegawa P-47D in 1/48 scale in Gabby’s scheme. The article was reprinted in FSM’s Classic Combat Aircraft special edition, Volume 2. Alfonso’s article played an important role in inspiring my project.


The 56th Fighter Group reportedly received its new Bubbletop D model Thunderbolts in Natural Metal finish, in the late Spring of 1944. Previously, the 56th, known as “Zemke’s Wolfpack”, had flown P-47’s Razorbacks finished in standard USAAF Olive Drab over Neutral Gray. When they took delivery of the shiny new aluminum finished aircraft, a decision was made apparently to paint a field applied camouflage at the Group, and many of the aircraft of the 56th have been well documented as bearing a streaked, mottled kind of brindle paint work, that has been described as being in the “style” of both the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe. It’s also been reported that these aircraft were painted with stocks of RAF paint. An article from 2001 on HyperScale by modeler Michael Dobrziecki was very helpful in working through these research issues.


I found a picture of the left side of the aircraft in Squadron / Signal’s long out of print “Aces of the Eighth”, and other pictures in Osprey’s “P-47 Thunderbolt Aces of the Eighth Air Force” by Jerry Scutts which shows several pictures of this aircraft – just not the whole Thunderbolt. The Allied Expeditionary Air Force (AEAF) Invasion Stripes on the upper surfaces lasted at least until 5 July 1944 – the date of a picture in the Osprey book on page 69, which shows Gabreski walking away from his aircraft with a throng of ground crew personnel looking on. This picture clearly shows the black outlined Invasion Stripes on the fuselage (rather than the more typical full Black stripes) and 27 Swastika flag “kill” marking; later pictures with 28 kills usually show his T-Bolt with the invasion stripes removed from the upper surfaces of the wings & fuselage. I chose to show my model of Gabby’s P-47 dated at the time depicted with 27 kills, on or about the date shown with full invasion stripes.

I could not however find conclusive and absolute evidence of all sides of the aircraft, so to my thinking, representations of this aircraft’s camouflage pattern are probably at least partly conjecture. Like I said, I took my best guess. I would be very happy, and it would be to the benefit of all modelers worldwide, to know otherwise. However, I have not yet had a look at the Hasegawa 1/32 instruction sheet and coloring guide yet either.






This kit was built straight “out of the box”, with the exception of adding Eduard USAAF / USN World War II painted seat belts, set 73-004. The Eduard belts offer a great way to dress up the wonderful cockpit interior in this kit. I brushed on a thin coat of Vallejo Buff to the belts, to tone down the stark contrast of Eduard’s painted stitching and to cover the spots where paint had flaked away in my bending them to an animated shape.

After painting the instrument panel Tamiya XF1 Flat Black, I used the kit instrument panel decal. I then coated it with clear flat and picked out the dial faces with Future acrylic floor polish and a toothpick to represent a gloss to the dials. I painted my P-47 cockpit with a mix of Tamiya acrylics, XF13 & XF22, to replicate Dull Dark Green. Finally, everything in the cockpit was given a light wash of Grumbacher artist’s water paints (from the tube) of Flat Black and Burnt Umber and dry brushed before buttoning up.

All other assembly was per the instructions.



Painting and Markings



Undersurface of the model was painted with Tamiya AS-12 from their spray can range. I took a tip from Jerry Scutt’s & Brett Green’s Osprey hardcover book on US Army Fighter Modeling, and sprayed the paint from the rattle can into a jar, then airbrushed the decanted paint on the model. A little Gunze Mr. Color Thinner was used to help thin this color. This same “Silver” was also used on the canopy frames (after applying Eduard’s mask set for this kit) and deck area underneath the canopy. These areas were then masked prior to spraying the upper surface camouflage.


All upper surface colors and invasion stripes were custom mixed from Tamiya acrylics, post shaded and panel faded. I masked all the wing stripes with Tamiya tape, and sprayed the camouflage pattern “freehand” with my trusty Paasche H single action airbrush. For the Grey, I used Tamiya XF53 mixed with XF2 flat white and 91% Isopropyl alcohol. For the Dark Green, I started with a mix based on a lightened XF73 (a modern Japanese self defense force armor grey-green color). The Red on the cowl band (indicating the 56th Fighter Group) and rudder (indicating the 61st Fighter Squadron) are both in Tamiya XF7 Flat Red. All colors were dressed with a darkened version at the panel lines, then lightened versions of the base colors were sprayed on the panel interiors. A highly thinned mix of Tamiya Flat Black and red Brown was sprayed for additional weathering & grime effect afterwards. Fuel staining on the drop tank was achieved by a streaked Grumbacher Burnt Umber water paint; I waited for this to dry, then dragged a slightly wet brush over this to wash away the excess, following the slipstream pattern I found in photographs of P-47 belly tanks, including Gabreski’s.

This was followed up with several light coats of Future in preparation for decals.


Decals came primarily from Techmod sheet 72-103, which offer an accurately detailed representation of Gabreski’s markings. There is also a beautiful full color drawing of the plane in the decal instructions, but unfortunately my research led me to think the paint pattern is only partially correct.

I really like Techmod decals. They are of a high standard in accuracy and register, but they are very thin and somewhat brittle to use. One of the national insignia actually became stuck and fractured, but I was able to piece it back together before the final Micro Sol was applied. With care and good decaling skills, they can be made to look very convincing. All decals were applied over Future, using Micro Set and Micro Sol solutions. Lesson learned: when using Techmod decals, be generous with your Micro Set, to keep them from sticking before you are ready. I sealed them with another coat of future before applying a light Turpenoid oil wash of Lamp Black & Burnt Umber oils. One more note on Techmod: The decals are so thin, that the undercoat of white in the invasion stripes showed through the wing National Insignia Star & Bar decal. This was apparent on close inspection of the model and in earlier photographs. Later photographs show that I went back and carefully masked these areas off with Post-it notes for another coat of thinned Tamiya XF-2. Like Roy Sutherland says, it is never too late to find and fix a problem.


From the decal sheet I used the national insignia, unit codes & serial numbers, fuselage stripes, kill flags (I cut off the 28th kill, to show the model dated to 5 July with a score of 27 per photographic references) and the data block.

The final flat coat is Future, mixed with Tamiya Flat Base. I appreciate the uniform smoothness that can be achieved to the final finish this way. I like it better than any other commercially produced model Flat coat.

After assembly, the canopy transparency was brush pained by hand with Future acrylic floor polish and left to dry. The kit transparency then takes on a very clear appearance, owing to the ability of Future to perform it’s self leveling trick as it dries, not necessarily to my skills as a brush painter.

To my never ending amazement, the model won a 1st Place in the 1/72 scale single engine propeller category, Allied radial engine split, at the IPMS USA 2007 Nationals in Anaheim, California.

I hope you enjoy this look into the history of one of the great aircraft and pilots of World War II.



Additional Images


Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2007 by Marty Sanford
Page Created 13 December, 2007
Last Updated 24 December, 2007

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