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Dora Wings 1/48 scale Republic P-47B Thunderbolt plastic model kit review

Top-notch detail makes up for minor fit issues
Kit:DW 48051 // Scale:1/48 // Price:$41
Dora Wings (Sample courtesy of manufacturer)
Well-detailed, especially the cockpit and landing gear; straightforward general construction; great fit
Incredibly small plastic and PE parts; brittle photo-etched metal parts
Injection-molded plastic (gray); 179 parts (44 photo-etched metal); decals
For the past few years, Dora Wings has been exploring lesser-known subjects, giving us kits of civilian aircraft, trainers, and types sent overseas under Lend-Lease. The next step on their journey brings us closer to the mainstream with the Dora Wings 1/48 scale Republic P-47B Thunderbolt plastic model kit.

The P-47B, or RP-47B (R for restricted use), was the first production variant of the famous Thunderbolt. Fabric-covered control surfaces, fewer cowl flaps, and a forward-canted antenna mast are the main identifying features of the “B” model, which was also 8 inches shorter between the cockpit and the engine than its successors.

The parts have excellent surface detail, and the clear canopy has well-defined frames. Be sure to anneal the photo-etched brass. I didn’t, and the parts proved brittle; the shoulder belts snapped while I bent them around the seat. Pay close attention to the instructions because several pieces are numbered incorrectly, primarily switching numbers for the port and starboard sides.

While the instructions start with the cockpit, I was warned the landing-gear legs plugged into receptacles similar to those used on Dora Wings’ Vultee Vanguard, which proved troublesome and weak. So, I built the landing gear wells to check their fit and stability. Be sure to check that the slots on parts G37 and G33 face the correct way for G24 and G17 to slide into. Although the gear is better than the Vanguard’s, with a post fitting into a notch in the rear wall of the well, I left some of the sprue attached to the base of the legs to brace on the front wall and provide additional support.

With that done, I returned to the beautifully detailed cockpit. With all the tiny brass and plastic parts, it’s a shame Dora Wings did not provide an open canopy to see it all. I sanded the outer sides of the built-up tub to bring the fuselage halves together easily.
Careful painting and enamel washes bring out the engine detail, and I appreciate that Dora Wings did not use separate, brass cowl flaps. However, it did use the standard trailing-edge split for upper and lower flight surfaces.

The firewall was wider and shorter than the fuselage, so I wedged a piece of sprue inside the fuselage as a spreader for a perfect fit. While Part H1 provided the correct wing dihedral, it interfered with other wheel-well other parts. After each perfect test fit, the next would result in a 1-2 mm gap. Eventually, I got it close enough that the liquid cement softened the plastic, and the wings clicked into place without requiring filler.

The ring and reflector sights complete the cockpit before closing it up. The canopy fit after a light sanding, and the provided masks fit well. I do wish Dora Wings had provided optional parts for the canopy. Not just an open option so all of the incredible cockpit detail could be seen, but also pieces with and without the quarter windows, because few aircraft left the factory with them.

Initially, I painted the fuselage stripes for Col. Zemke’s aircraft. However, subsequent colors bled under the masks, so I used the provided decal stripes anyway. The decal colors match the suggested Mr. Color lacquers but require patience. They will go down well if you leave them alone. Play with them, and they may tear.

Separate wheels and hubs make painting easy. I lost several photo-etched metal (PE) parts for the landing gear, so be careful. Take care installing the legs and let the glue cure. They are much better than the Vanguard’s. I prefer a deeper plug-and-socket arrangement for strength and alignment.

The cowl matched the fuselage profile before I added the spreader for the firewall. This makes it a tight fit over the engine, so tight that I just pressed it into place. I did not glue the prop to the engine. I can pull both the prop and the cowl to display the finely detailed R2800.

I believe Dora is done exploring with this excellent kit of a mainstream fighter. The Dora Wings 1/48 scale Republic P-47B Thunderbolt plastic model kit scales out well and looks the part. The minor fit issues I experienced are easy to resolve, while the detail the kit provides is top-notch — no resin is needed here. I spent about 35 hours building and painting my Thunderbolt, slightly more than I would expect. Additional kits for the P-47C and early Razorback D-10 have been announced. I can’t wait to build a C model with that crazy ferry tank!
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