INTRODUCING THE "JUG"
The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was the biggest and heaviest fighter plane to serve with the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) during World War II. It entered active service in 1942, making it one of the few combat aircraft to have been designed, developed, manufactured and flown in action during the War itself (the United States officially entered World War II after the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941).
This single-seat escort fighter and fighter bomber, powered by a mighty, turbo-charged Pratt & Whitney radial piston engine, boasted a maximum speed of 467mph at 32,000 feet, a cruising speed of 300mph, and internal fuel tanks giving it a range of 800 miles.
Fully loaded, the "Jug" as it was known to its pilots (short for "juggernaut") weighed over 20,000lbs, carried six to eight machine guns, plus up to 2,000 lbs of bombs or 10 rockets under the wing. An external fuel tank could be added on the centre-line under the fuselage to extend its operating range.
Designed primarily as an interceptor fighter, it found its true role during the War as an accomplished, low-flying, devastatingly hard-hitting ground attack aircraft which inflicted mayhem and destruction on Japanese and German ground installations and transport - bombing, rocketing and machine-gunning anything that looked remotely unfriendly.
More than 12,000 of the P-47D variant (the most extensively built version and the subject of this model) saw action during the war, mainly with the US 8th, 9th and 15th Air Force units in Europe, and later with the 348th Fighter Group in Australia.
Revell Inc., an American company founded in Illinois 60 years ago, is one of the stalwarts of the modelling industry. It has undergone a fair degree of change over the years, most notably in 1956, when the company set up a European subsidiary in Germany. In the beginning, the subsidiary only marketed and sold kits produced by the US parent, but in the 1970's, it started to produce kits in its own right, finally setting up its own development and production facilities in the 1980's.
The most important bit of equipment for any model manufacturer is the mould from which the plastic model is made, and when model companies are acquired, sold or go under, it's the rights to these moulds that command the most attention.
Often you will find that the same kit will be re-badged and re-packaged by a different manufacturer, leading consumers to believe that it is a new version, but usually, it will be the same mould being passed from company to company with, possibly, a few new decals (markings) and inserts.
However, the subject kit (Revell Kit No. 01455) is what is known as a "new tooling", engineered from scratch by Revell GmbH in early 2000.
THE KIT - OUTER PACKAGING
This 1:72 scale kit comes in a blue Revell-badged, side opening box with some very attractive artwork on the front, featuring an artists impression of one of the two finishes provided for in the kit. The picture shows the USAAF P-47D-30 flown by Captain Milt Thompson of the 509th Fighter Squadron, 405th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force in France during 1945, but you can also build a French Armée de L'Air version based on a P-47D based at Amerien, France in 1944.
The kit is rated three (3) on a difficulty scale of one (1 - easy) to five (5 - hard) which makes it unsuitable for an absolute novice. The bottom of the box gives a little more detail on the criteria used to determine the skill rating, and indicates the kit is suitable for modellers ten (10) years and older.
A very brief history of the aircraft is provided in several languages (German, English, French, Dutch, Swedish, Italian and Spanish). The finished model will come in at 15.6cm (about 6 inches) long and 17.2cm (about 6.5 inches) wingtip to wingtip.
THE KIT - INFORMATION ON PAINTS
For the uninitiated, paints, brushes and glue are not included. Basic information on the paints needed to dress the kit is provided on a side panel. These are given as Revell colours codes No.36 (Carmine Red) and No.46 (NATO Olive). Again, this is for the version shown on the box. You won't find any further details on painting until you open the box after purchase (annoying, as, if possible, you would ideally like to buy them at the same time as the kit).
If you are looking to build the alternative Armée de L'Air version (as I am) you will need Revell No. 76 (Light Grey) for the under surfaces and No. 39 (Dark Green) for the top surfaces. These are the basic matt enamel paints for the camouflage scheme only.
The kit instructions inside the box provide a very detailed list of the other paint colours which are needed for things such as tyres, engine parts, cockpit interior, propeller, and landing gear. If you are unable to find Revell paints, you can use a conversion chart to find their Humbrol or Tamiya equivalents here: http://www.paint4models.com/
THE KIT - WHAT YOU GET IN THE BOX
Inside the box you get three sprues of light grey plastic in a sealed plastic bag, which hold the majority of the 50 plus parts that make up the kit. The "bubble" canopy is separately packaged - a thoughtful touch and a definite bonus, as it can otherwise easily get scratched knocking about with the other parts. There is an extensive and very detailed decal (slide transfer) sheet, protected by a sheet of tissue paper, which includes comprehensive markings for both P-47 versions.
Three fold-out pictorial instruction sheets precisely detail each build stage, providing appropriate paint call-outs where required. These sheets also contain overall painting and decal placement instructions, a kit inventory, and a key to the symbols used throughout the instructions (glue, don't glue, detach with knife, remove etc.) in over a dozen languages - adding Cyrillic, Greek and Turkish to the European languages appearing on the box - and reflecting the multilingual nature of the kits' target audience.
I am over halfway through building this kit and the build quality is exceptional. The engine parts are very finely detailed, as are the cockpit, wheel wells, landing gear and control surfaces. You can actually make out the individual dials and instruments on the tiny instrument panel, and there is raised detail on the cockpit seat to represent seat belt, harness and buckle.
Panel lines (i.e. the parts of the kit that represent where the real-life parts come together - join lines if you would) are finely recessed and accurate based on the reference material I had available. I tested the way the parts fit together by "dry-fitting" them (i.e. holding them in place without glue) and it looks like this kit will go together exceptionally well without the need for filling and sanding (as is typical in older kits).
As with supermarkets, fairly or unfairly, kit makers have a certain reputation based on their perceived standing within the industry - think Marks & Spencer Foods (expensive, posh but quality food) vs. Aldi (cheap and cheerful, budget with lower standards). At the top end you have Japanese giants Tamiya and Hasegawa, whose kits are top of the range and can go for between £10 and £40 each (although each have a budget range with predicted drop in standards).
If you are curious, Airfix would probably be Sainsbury (an old favourite living on past glories) and Revell usually ranks as Tesco (an ever present industry giant with proven quality). It has been said about "Tami-gawa" kits, that all you have to do is shake the box, and they will pop out already assembled - such is their perceived quality. Why am I telling you this? Because I think this beauty of a Revell kit ranks up amongst the best, and at a fraction of the price of its Japanese competition.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
This is the part that blows me away. As an avid collector (as well as builder) of models in this scale, I also own a Tamiya P-47 "Bubbletop" which I have yet to build. On close inspection of the two kits, the Tamiya kit has a few more parts, but the quality difference between the two is negligible. The Tamiya kit typically retails for £12.50. On the other hand, the Revell kit weighs in (on average) at an astonishing £4.50.
That's almost a third of the price of its much vaunted "superior". That's what makes this kit such great value. Its exceptional quality makes this a no-brainer for the serious modeller, yet its value for money means it can be bashed together by a 10 year old - and if he/she messes up? Who cares? It's only £4.50!? On top of all that, it is widely available (currently in stock for £4.99 at Amazon.co.uk).
I am seriously impressed. I would have easily - and very happily - parted with £10 to buy this kit, so to have this kind of quality available at half that price is a notable achievement for Revell, an achievement for which they should be roundly applauded.
It's honestly quite difficult to find anything negative to say about it (it should be more expensive probably doesn't count), but if I had to pick one thing, it would be to have a fuller list of the paints required to finish the model on the exterior of the box, so I can buy my paint at the same time as the model (most of the box back panel is taken up advertising other kits).
That sound you just heard is my front door slamming, as I head off to my local hobby shop to nab another one...
FOOTNOTE ON SOURCES
For the benefit of dedicated enthusiasts, the main sources I used for background reading, information about the aircraft, its pilots and operating history, and its various markings and colour schemes were:
(a) David Mondey's "Concise Guide to American Aircraft of World War II" published in 1994 by Chancellor Press - an excellent volume in a series of three (the others focus on Axis and British aircraft) providing pen pics of almost all combatant aircraft (currently out of print);
(b) Jerry Scutts' "Aircraft of the Aces: P-47 Thunderbolt Aces of the Eighth Air Force" published by Osprey Aviation in 2000 (No. 37 in the Aircraft of the Aces series). This is a very good reference not only on the aircraft, but as the name implies, about the pilots who flew them as well. It is available from Amazon for £12.00; and
(c) the now, out of print, Profile Publications "The Republic P-47D Thunderbolt" - a handy twelve page pamphlet (Number 7 in the series of approximately 220) authored by the delightfully named Edward Shacklady and published in 1965. You can sometimes find these knocking about for a few quid on eBay.
Information on Revell GmbH & Co. (the German company) and Revell Inc (the US company) is from their respective corporate websites.
© Hishyeness 2009 - previously published on ciao.co.uk under the same user name.
Summary: A superbly engineered plastic model kit of a classic WWII warbird.
1/72 P-47 D-30 Thunderbolt