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Conversion, the Easy Way

Academy 1/72 P-47D backdated to C model

n by Darrell Thompson


This is my 1/72 scale Academy P-47D Thunderbolt converted to a P-47C. My model depicts a P-47C-5-RE of the 62nd Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group flown by Captain Eugene O'Neil.

An easy conversion

The conversion to a C model was very simple and only involved removing the two lower cowling gills either side. P-47C's had a flatter keel than the later D's but many P-47C's were retrofitted with the 'bulged' keel, so depending on the aircraft being modelled more surgery maybe required, but the aircraft I was modelling had the bulged keel which made life easier.

I didn't bother improving the cockpit too much as I was going to have the canopy closed. A seat frame added from plastic rod, some etched seatbelts, a scratchbuilt gun sight and the armoured glass in front of the gun sight was all that was added to the kit cockpit.

Accurizing the Academy kit

The Academy Thunderbolt is a good kit, but some items require modification for that correct look. I started with the prominent splitter plate between the engine and the oil coolers in the lower cowling. The plate was beefed up with some plasticard and some rod was added to the front lip to give it a more accurate appearance. 

The next modification was to the gun barrels. Academy has moulded them in too large a diameter giving them totally the wrong look. Also not as bad is the fact that in front view, they are placed in line parallel to the wing and not the ground . So after removing the kit guns I carefully drilled holes in the correct place then inserted 30 thou plastic rod of the correct length. 

The undercarriage was improved by removing approximately 3mm from the top of the legs to give the aircraft a better sit, of course the wheel covers had to be shortened as well. Actuators for the inboard covers were produced from two different diameters of plastic rod. 

The solid wheel hubs provided with the kit looked odd, so new covers were added to the wheels made from 10 thou plasticard discs. 

Academy have included the panel lines for the gun camera access hatch just under the front of the wing, in fact they have included it on both wings - it should only be on the right wing, but they haven't included the gun camera window on the leading edge of the wing! So they extra panel was filled and a window was drilled and carefully filed to the correct shape in the leading edge of the starboard wing.

Further details

The solid wingtip navigation lights were cut out and replaced with clear sprue and sanded to shape. The identification lights on the bottom of the right wing tip were sanded off then a drill was used to make shallow holes to represent the lights. After the aircraft was painted these were given a coat of Humbrol silver, filled with a little bit of Future to make them flush, then painted with the correct colour Tamyia clear paints. 

Since my aircraft was not to have wing pylons I filled the holes on the bottom of the wings and added a thin strip of plasticard to represent the fences that are fitted when the pylons aren't. The whip aerial and gunsight bead where added using bristles from an old toothbrush.

I made my own sway braces for the belly tank from thin plastic rod and improved the tank by added a plastic disc for the filler cap and the fuel and vent lines connecting the tank to the aircraft.

Applying the paint scheme

The aircraft was painted using Humbol Enamels. The white bands and cowl were painted first with Humbrol 34 then masked off and the underside was given a coat of Humbrol 126 followed by 155 for the top. The tight 'soft' line between the olive drab and neutral grey was obtained using Blu Tack 'worms'. 

The gear legs and propeller hub where painted with Alclad II shade A. Red paint was used to add the blast tube covers. 

Weathering was done with an all over wash of Raw Umber oil paint heavily thinned with turpentine. Pastels were then used to highlight the panel lines further and provide the belly staining. 

A gloss coat for the decals was then achieved with a few coats of Future after which the Superscale decals where applied. The stencils on this sheet (72-666) aren't printed very well so I used a few of the stencils from the kit decal sheet.

Finishing touches

Once the decals were dry they where weathered slightly with some pastels and then a coat of 50:50 Humbrol Matt Cote and Satin Coat was sprayed to seal everything. I scratchbuilt a Spitfire type rear view mirror to sit on top the canopy. The belly tank, undercarriage and propeller were then attached and Testors clear part cement was used as the final touch to provide the window for the gun camera.

Additional images, click to enlarge

thompson_p47c_03.jpg (33007 bytes) thompson_p47c_06.jpg (29965 bytes)

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