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Academy 1/72 scale P-47D Thunderbolt Razorback

Kit: No. 2175
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Academy, distributed by MRC, P.O. Box 6312, Edison, NJ 08818-6312, phone 732-225-2100
Price: $9
Comments: Injection molded, 54 parts, decals.

Academy continues to fill out its 1/72 scale line of World War II single-engined fighters. Its new P-47 family (a bubble-top version is also available) is similar to the 20-year-old Hasegawa kits, but there are noticeable improvements. Along with sharp recessed panel lines, Academy's Jug provides cockpit interior with details molded on the side walls and adequate wheel-well detail. Options in the kit include underwing bombs and bazooka-style rocket launchers, under-belly paper or P-51-style metal drop tank, and both Curtiss Electric and Hamilton Standard propellers.

A crystal-clear, two-piece canopy is provided, but if you want to pose it open, you'll have to shave a section of the razorback's spine. Well-printed decals provide marking for two camouflaged P-47Ds.

The parts fit almost perfectly. Positioning the engine and the baffle in the bottom of the cowl leaves room for some play, and my engine ended up canted to the right a bit. The curvatures of the top wing panels don't quite match the wing roots, so there are tiny steps in the centers of the wing-fuselage joints. Otherwise, there were no assembly problems.

After painting the model with Testor and Floquil enamels and glossing with Future, I applied the decals. Academy provides black and yellow checkerboards for the 325th Fighter Group bird. At first glance, I thought there was a mistake because the decals gave me checkers for the fin but only for the tops of the horizontal stabilizers. However, Ernest R. McDowell's Checkertails, The 325th Fighter Group in the Second World War (Squadron/Signal) mentions that some aircraft had the decoration only on the tops due to a paint shortage. The decals fit fine and went down well with a little Micro Sol, but the white and red markings were translucent.

The finished model includes some inaccuracies. The machine-gun barrels are too short, too fat, and are molded parallel with the center line of the wing. I cut them off and inserted stainless-steel tubing in holes drilled parallel with the ground. The pointed hub of the Curtiss Electric prop is too long, as are the main landing-gear struts. The main wheels have exposed spokes, but P-47s of this vintage usually had wheel covers. The pitot tube is on the right wing; it should be on the left. The canopy is too narrow, and the windshield is not long enough.

I decided to leave off the center-mounted drop tank, as photos in my references of this squadron's birds show pairs of P-38 teardrop tanks on the wing pylons. The elevator hinge lines are too far aft, and panel scribing on the fuselage is identical on both sides; access panels on the real P-47, particularly ahead of the cockpit, differed from side to side.

References on the Thunderbolt abound, but I referred to the drawings in Aerodata International Fighters of World War II (Squadron/Signal).

While not perfect, Academy's kit is the best detailed T-bolt in this scale. I recommend it to modelers of all skill levels. Beginners will appreciate the ease of assembly, and experts will enjoy the challenge of fixing the minor errors. I devoted 20 hours to my razorback.

- Paul Boyer

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