Alex Whittaker revisits a superb model which debuted at LMA Cosford 2015.
The P-47 Thunderbolt needs no introduction to scale modellers. She is easily the most modelled scale subject on the UK warbird circuit and always has a good showing at club scale meetings.
The growth in the availability of large modern composite scale kits and the runaway success of the Moki 250 five-cylinder scale radial petrol engine has seen a further explosion in Thunderbolt numbers. Thunderbolts look impressive and fly well, and those big radial engines and eye-catching yankee schemes confer a certain ‘Pacific Theatre’ glamour. Mind you, imposing ‘European Theatre’ Jugs, with bold Invasion Stripes have a certain comeliness all of their own!
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No WWII fighter powered by a single petrol engine weighed more than the Republic Thunderbolt. Her big sassy looks gained her the British nickname ‘Jug’. Her armoured cockpit, 2000hp Pratt & Whitney engine and devastating eight-cannon firepower made her a potent fighter, as well as a formidable ground attack platform.
Her highly innovative plastic impregnated paper composite drop tanks were a very clever tactical accessory. Although they were leaky after only a short time, they lasted long enough to get the Thunderbolt up to operational height. These cost a fraction of metal tanks to make, increased the Thunderbolt’s range and they disintegrated on impact. Thus, they were useless once dropped, could not be recycled and thereby offered no advantage to a scavenging enemy.
What many military commentators overlook is that the Thunderbolt was appointed with a very comfortable pilot’s seat and was even fitted with air-conditioning!
Despite her weight and bulk, she was an extremely potent weapon. On front line service in Europe, later mark Thunderbolts accounted for 20 enemy Me 262 jets and four Arado Ar 234 jet bombers. The Jug had a reputation for toughness, plus the uncanny ability to get her pilot home safely, even when badly shot up. Over fifteen thousand Thunderbolts were built. Examples remained in service with the US National Guard well into the 1950s. Some overseas variants sold to Peru remained in service until 1963.
The model was built by Tim Simmonds and owned by David Pearson. She is built from the celebrated Composite ARF P-47 Razorback kit and plan. She is designed to 1:4.5 scale, delivering a mighty span of 112”. She weighs 52 lbs and is powered by the now legendary Moki 250cc five- cylinder radial. In fact, the model is designed around the Moki powerplant, delivering a very accurate look to the cowling. The kit takes account of the weight of this prime mover and it has an optional radio equipment tray to move the CG aft.
Construction is of the modern ‘composite GRP and carbon fibre’ formula, with additional ply formers and hard points. The fuselage is supplied ready-built, with the wing mounts, firewall and all mounting provisions in place for the designated Moki radial. The rear rudder servo mount, the fuel tank mount and the radio equipment tray are either built in, or ready-prepped to just bolt in.
There is also provision for the cockpit canopy lines, sliding canopy rails and a full vacuum-formed cockpit kit. The wings are all-moulded and accommodate the landing-gear hard points, and the scale Fowler flap and hinge system.
Flap servo mounts are built in, too. All control horns are hidden. The bolt-on all-moulded tail has provision for hidden controls, retractable tail gear and scale hinges. The supplied all-moulded cowl completes the airframe.
PROP & EXHAUST
Up front is a carbon fibre four-blader of 30” or 32” diameter with ground-adjustable pitch.
The Moki is fitted with a collector ring connected to each of the five cylinders. It exits in the correct scale position.
These were from Sierra Precision, made in the USA. This undercarriage is a bespoke extra for this model and the struts compress on retracting. The clever partial air retract system allows the aircraft to settle low onto its wheels, as would the full-size on losing pressure, when the engine is turned off.
COVERING & PAINTING
The model is painted in cellulose matt paint and depicts The Fighter Collection’s P-47, decorated to represent ‘Snafu’. This was the aircraft flown by Lieutenant Severino B Calderon of the 78th Fighter Group in late 1944, to take on Luftwaffe fighters and escort Allied heavy bombers.
Tailor Made Decals in Germany supplied the stencils, paint masks and decals.
The model has scale operating Fowler flaps, a sliding canopy and pneumatic air damping on the undercarriage legs.
David reported that, as with nearly all P-47s, she flies very well:
“In truth she would be grossly overpowered with the Moki engine if pushed too hard. Better to fly her in a scale fashion. She is very stable and strong winds do not seem to bother her. Having flown both this model, and also the Composite ARF F4U Corsair, I would say the P-47 Razorback flies better”.
Model name: Republic P47 Thunderbolt
Kit details: carf-models.com/en/products/p-47-razorback
Wingspan: 112″ (2845 mm)
Weight: 52 lbs (23.6 kg)
Engine: Moki 250cc five-cylinder radial
Exhaust: Moki collector ring
Prop: Carbon fibre, ground-adjustable pitch, four blader, 30” or 32” diameter
Retracts: Sierra Giant Scale
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