A while ago at a swap meet I picked up a 1/72 Revell P-47M for only $8.00. P-47s are awesome aircraft and toward the end of the war some US squadrons adopted some pretty interesting camouflage schemes, so it was a bit of a no-brainer for me whether to buy it.
The decals in the box offered two black aircraft, but I preferred a scheme of two blues, used by the 63rd Fighter Squadron of the 56th Fighter Group. So I bought a set of after market decals from Hannants. After a bit of research I found a forum posting where a guy had spoken with a ground crew member who said that the colours were US insignia blue, and a mixture of insignia blue and white. Most colour side views of these aircraft show a medium blue rudder. I don’t think that’s correct. This picture of ‘Ole Miss Lib’ shows a lighter patch where the elevator would be, in the neutral position, but the rest of the rudder is the same shade as the rest of the rear fuselage. The decal set came with a white bu. number, and I have also seen light blue and the standard yellow. In the photo it’s clearly not white, and it’s a slightly different shade from the light blue, so I went with the yellow.
Just to get on my soapbox for a moment, poorly researched colour illustrations, which are copied by modellers and decal manufacturers alike, are a pain in the bottom. Look for photographs online. There are plenty out there. If you can’t find one then there’s a good chance are that the cool camo scheme you are looking at is the product of someone who doesn’t care, or someone who is looking for an excuse to make their model a little different.
Anyway, on to the build…
As a newish Revell kit, the model itself went together like a dream. You do need to do a bit of creative squeezing to make sure that the fuselage aligns correctly all the way around, but that’s it. Oh and don’t forget to open up whatever holes you need to. There’s not sufficient clearance under the kit for the belly fuel tank, but in the photos I’ve seen, it wasn’t carried anyway.
In the cockpit, I replaced the moulded on seatbelts with etched brass, and I made decals for the instrument panel using some photos of painted after market parts I found online. They look great but since I used white decal film you can see traces of that around the edges. I realised that a little late, and I wasn’t game to squeeze my brush in to dab a little paint on. The sliding canopy mechanism is over the top, and too large, so it looks more realistic with that left off. I used Tamiya Deep Green with a bit of white for the Dull Dark Green cockpit colour.
I mentioned the paint scheme above. The scheme was a little tricky to organise because I am the unfortunate owner of some Model Master Metalizer paint and it’s very fragile. I wish I’d bought Alclad. In order to avoid masking that paint I had to paint and mask in stages. First I painted the gloss red nose, then masked that, painted the light blue, more masking, then the dark blue, and then applied most of the upper surface decals, and blacklined the panel lines using oil paint. Then I masked off where decals would cross over between matt and gloss parts (on the nose), or from painted to natural metal surfaces (the wing insignia), and sprayed on matt varnish where I could. Next up was the natural metal on the wing leading edges and underside, more blacklining, then the remainder of the decals, and brush painted matt varnish on the patch on the wing. I used a tin of Xtracolour Insignia Blue, which I bought over a decade ago in London. In some places it crackled a little when I put the Tamiya matt varnish on – I guess I didn’t wait long enough for it to cure.
The decals, from Print Scale, were about 10 percent overscale, which is most evident with the ‘Ole Miss Lib’ markings on the nose, which are also missing their quotation marks. They are also horrifically fragile, and the white is not that solid. Also they only include one size of insignia, kind of an average between the wing and fuselage size. So four out of ten for them. To replace the fuselage insignia I used some old Micro Scale Decals, and apart from a slight tendency for some of them to explode (luckily there were lots of stars on the sheet) they were fine, even with the tricky slicing up I had to do around the intercoolers on the fuselage sides (the ground crew painted replacement ‘bars’ from the insignia inside the intercooler outlets so that when the doors were open the stars and bars would still look complete).