McGreig's Quick Builds 2 & 3 - Soviet P-47 Thunderbolts

Started by McGreig, June 28, 2014, 02:54:39 PM

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Just sneaking in under the wire - two more quick builds (well, they were meant to be - - - )

From early 1944, the USSR received 196 P-47D Thunderbolts, split evenly between razorback and bubble canopy versions.

Sadly, the Russians were distinctly underwhelmed by P-47. The fighter ace and test pilot Mark Gallai commented: "The P-47 Thunderbolt is not a fighter. It is bigger and heavier than our standard frontal bomber (Pe-2) and has a longer range. It carries more bombs and is more heavily armed. - - -  From the very first minute of flight in the P-47, I recall, I felt the overwhelming sensation; this was not a fighter! A stable, comfortable machine with a rationally appointed spacious cockpit - but not a fighter! It proved to be rather reluctant in manoeuvres even in the horizontal plane, to say nothing of the vertical plane. Acceleration was slow. The sluggishness inherent in the design manifested itself clearly. In short, this was a machine in which straight-line flight was comfortable and pleasant. Too little for a fighter."

The main reason for this was that the P-47's high altitude performance and strength in power dives, valued by the USAAF, was of little use in an air war that was rarely conducted above 5,000 metres and a low altitudes the P-47 was simply out-performed by its Russian and German contemporaries. Because of its good high altitude performance it was tried as an interceptor by PVO regiments but its poor rate rate of climb led to its withdrawal.

Most of the P-47s eventually found a home with Naval Aviation units of the Northern Fleet, where its long range and endurance were seen as assets. However, even then, most P-47's were stored with reserve units and did not enter service until after the end of the war.

However, what if things had been slightly different?

The first model assumes that Thunderbolts were sent to the USSR in early 1943 and pressed into service with ground attack units of the Northern Front, such as the 17 Guards Ground Attack Regiment, replacing their Hurricanes prior to the arrival of Il-2s as production of the latter built up. And just in time to receive one of the last uses of winter camouflage.

This is the new Hobby Boss 1/72 kit, which is a completely different moulding to their earlier bubble canopy P-47D. It's a great little kit – you may only get the front bank of engine cylinders moulded in half relief, the cockpit may be simplified and the pitot is omitted entirely but these flaws are either not very noticeable or easily fixed and it's pleasure to build (I've bought another five since building this!).

The second model may, just possibly, not be a whiff (well, actually, the probability is 99.99% that it is a whiff).

It was normal practice to leave lend-lease aircraft in their American or British delivery scheme, repainting only the national markings and codes. However, repainting into Soviet colours was occasionally seen and one example of this is a (probably) post-war photograph of a line of La-5/7 fighters (said to be of the Northern Fleet's 255 IAP) which includes two P-47s. The nearest is clearly a razorback version. It has a dark cowling and appears to have been repainted into the two greys scheme. The angle of the wing hides any evidence of a code number. The second P-47 is too far away to see clearly whether it is a razorback or not.

On the basis of this flimsy evidence, I decided to finish this bubble canopy P-47 in the two greys scheme with a red cowling and a hypothetical (OK, completely fictitious) fuselage code.

This is the Revell kit and it really should come with a health warning – as a building experience it's the exact opposite of the Hobby Boss kit. For a kit originally released in (I think) 1997, the wear on the mould is unexpectedly severe – the cowling has short moulded flaps, the engine mouldings are poor and there is generally a lot of flash. I came very close to binning this more than once during the build, especially after several engine cylinders broke off (under very little pressure) when I was trying to align the engine parts

As a comparison, I recently bought the RAF Combo boxing of the much older Hasegawa kit from the early Eighties (if I recall correctly, it was one of their first kits with engraved detail) and the mouldings appear to be just as sharp as they were when the kit was first issued.


Decals my @r$e!