Tamiya’s 1/48th P-47D Bubbletop version first came out in 1999 and I have no reason at all for why I haven't built the kit already. It’s a sad state of affairs that I’ve recently managed to remedy. I was supplied the Lifelike Decals sheet 48-049 ‘Republic P-47D Thunderbolt Part 9’ that contains three schemes to chose from. The first was a Razorback in the olive drab scheme that appeared in the original Razorback box, the second is a Bubbltop although the it has the fuselage fin extension and the final one was a rather plain natural metal scheme that at first glance looked unobtrusive. However on closer inspection it’s name ‘The Reamer’ and it’s glamorous art works had me hooked. And considering the pilot Jack Ream and my son share their first names, I couldn’t go past it.
As with most World War II single engine kits, construction usually starts in the cockpit which is exactly where I began. The plastic components that Tamiya sculpted back in 1999(ish) are more than appropriate for an open cockpit which this kit has. With some suitable painting and detail work the cockpit comes to like. The Zinc Chromate interior is Mr Color lacquer while the detail painting was completed using Vallejo acrylics. The only downfall is the decal seat belt that is provided. I initially purchased a HGW seatbelt set to enhance the cockpit but I was less than impressed with the quality of the HGW components. Undersized buckles that didn't fit oversized belts quickly found there way into the bin. A local hobby supplier had some of the Eduard Super Fabric seatbelt sets for WW2 USAAF aircraft in stock so I grabbed a set of them. The pack contained two items so the other has made its way into a Mustang which will be presented at a later time.
The chipping you can see on the seats is a fairly simple and well know technique using your favourite silver paint, in this case Games Workshop Mithril Silver, and a small piece of sponge clamped in a set of locking tweezers. A tiny amount of paint is applied to the sponge with most of it being removed, then with a simple dabbing motion on the part it's just a case of applying small amount of the silver paint. This was all done prior to the belts being installed. The same method was used for the floor of the cockpit. The key here is to use an almost empty sponge.
One of the parts that can make or break an interior for a 48th scale aircraft (well that’s what I think) is how well the instrument panel is dressed. The kit provides a decal to sit over the instrument panel that features raised but quite petite detail. After a lick of black paint and some gloss clear to seal it I set about applying the decal and copious amount of setting solution. Initially I used Mr Mark Softer however it wasn’t softening the decal enough to conform to the underlying detail. I dragged out the MicroSol (red top) to help settle the decal even further. I spent two days applying this solution to the part while working on other components. Three days later I was happy with the result. I sealed it again with gloss and then flat coated it. A dry brush with some dark grey to enhance the bezels and some gloss on the instrument faces gave me a result I was happy with. When I test fitted the part to the fuselage I realised that the rear of the instrument panel would be visible so I decided to drill and wire each of the instrument backs. This was about ten minutes work from drilling the holes until applying the black paint.
You’ll note that I haven't installed the gun site yet. Once I’ve cleaned up all of the fuselage seams I’ll then install it to prevent any knocks or damage to the part.
I’ve also got some Mr Color Yellow Chromate into the gear wells, I love this stuff as it sprays so nicely and provides excellent coverage too.
The Super charger exhaust is painted with a base coat of Alclad II Exhaust Manifold followed by Mr Color Metallic chrome silver dry brushed onto the part and then ground up black artists chalk applied to their I think it looks good and although small it won't have the same sheen as the kit. The fairing will be an olive drab colour.
Assembly of the main wing and fuselage components is the other work that I've carried out. The wings are simple to do and the gun inserts are almost a drop fit. The join of the fuselage halves is a positive but tight fit. I did find some flex in the parts at the seam so caution needed to be taken to ensure the step was minimal. Of note here is a tip, albeit old, that I recently picked up from a UK modeller. Tamiya Extra Thin glue is a favourite of many modellers around the globe. One problem it does have, and this modeller wouldn't be the first one I’ve heard it from, is that weeks and sometimes months after the seam has been addressed a ghost seam appears sometimes appears.
The best interpretation of the problem that I've heard is because Tamiya Extra Thin is a hot glue it welds the plastic together. This in turn means that the fumes or ‘fluid’ for want of a better term can take a while to evaporate from the glued seam. As the glue dries it shrinks which in turn leaves the ghost seam. This builder had recently turned to the good old Humbrol Liquid Poly. Apparently this stuff doesn’t leave any type of ghosting at all, and considering this is going to be an NMF scheme I wanted to ensure I had not ghosting seams at all.
So what you see so far is the kit cockpit built with Tamiya Extra Thin glue plus a wee drop of Revell Contacta for the some of the cockpit components and then the Humbrol Liquid Poly along all of the fuselage seams. The proof of course will be six months after the model is completed and all the seams are still invisible...or not.
So the lesson here…there’s a glue for every situation!