Kit: No. 2155
Manufacturer: Academy/Minicraft, P.O. Box 3577, Torrance, CA 90510, 310-325-8383
Comments: Injection molded, 126 parts, decals.
AUTOMATED power-setting controls and an autopilot made the "N" version of the Thunderbolt the perfect machine to escort B-29s to Japan beginning in May 1945.
Aside from a markings glitch, Academy/Minicraft's new quarter-inch scale P-47N is a honey. The parts feature beautifully recessed panel lines, good detail in the wheel wells and cockpit, and an outstanding selection of underwing stores. These include three styles of drop tanks, 500- and 1,000-pound bombs, "bazooka" rocket tubes, and 5-inch rockets. Other options are standard and flattened main gear wheels, open or closed intercooler vents on the rear fuselage, openable gun bays, and a two-piece canopy. The kit comes with the wide "paddle-blade" propeller, along with sway braces (and even decals) for the ordnance. I like the treatment of the machine guns; a separate panel fits into the leading edge of the wing to produce the proper horizontal position of the gun muzzles.
Mold marks in my sample were nearly invisible, and everything fit exactly as indicated in the nine-step instructions. It's rare to find a perfectly fitting windscreen and canopy, but this kit has them. With the full load of fuel tanks and ordnance, the finished model is spectacular.
One of the last units to be assigned to the airfield on Iwo Jima was the 414th Fighter Group, and the airframe represented by this kit's decal sheet, "Gerry," belonged to this group's 456th Fighter Squadron. However, the kit's instructions and box top show yellow trim, the color applied to the T-Bolts of the 413th FS. According to my references, Gerry should have medium blue trim, not yellow.
Much of the 18 hours devoted to this model went into masking the color scheme. I sprayed SnJ Spray Metal aluminum overall with AeroMaster olive drab antiglare panels and Floquil Military medium blue trim.
The kit's decals fit well, are satisfactorily opaque, and respond to both Solvaset and Micro Sol. My sample's propeller logo decals were slightly off-register.
My prime reference was Gene B. Stafford's P-47 Thunderbolt in Action (Squadron/Signal), and color confirmation came from a conversation with Dana Bell of the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum.
Anyone used to handling small parts will find this kit a breeze to build. With aftermarket decals already available, I expect to see many "Ns" at contests.