1/48 P-47D Thunderbolt “Bubbletop”

This build is the Tamiya 1/48 scale P-47D Thunderbolt “Bubbletop”. It will be detailed with Eduard’s Big Edition photo etch set. For this scheme I will be using the brand new set of decals from Thunder Cals. This is their latest set featuring P-47D’s from the European Theater. I will be doing the “Ozark Queen” of the 84th FS/78th FG from the 8th Air Force. It was flown by Captain Alfred F. Eaton in the summer of 1944.

You can check out the details of their new set on their website at Thunder Cals Newest Decal Set

As typical with aircraft builds, it all starts with the cockpit. While the Tamiya cockpit is highly detailed out of the box, Eduard does add some placards and fine details that further enhance the cockpit. Once the cockpit was built up I started preparing the fuselage to install the cockpit. Eduard does provide an interesting add-on. Typically the inter-cooler on 1/48 scale P-47’s has an opening that just goes into the  fuselage and is typically open. Eduard actually includes all the duct work to the inter-cooler. It is difficult to photograph but I was able to just get a good angle to show it.


This week’s update on the Thunderbolt is for the detailing of the fuselage. The oil cooler vents just behind the cowl, like the inter-coolers, has nothing behind them and the detail kit does not provide anything as well. I searched thru my miscellaneous photo etch extras and found some oil cooler grates and used these along with some styrene stock and added details behind the vents. Then I started on the engine. For the firewall I drilled out the lower intakes and added photo etch details. I then added some photo etch details to the engine cylinders and painted them aluminum. The fuselage was then assembled and now I am working on the engine mountings and the wiring. Also I am checking out a new paint source. The interior of the fuselage was painted with yellow zinc chromate. In order to replicate this color I ended up purchasing paint from Mission Models. The color is very accurate and the paint goes on very well. For this being the first time using this brand I am very happy with the results. Will need to try other colors later. Now onto the photos.

This update covers the building and detailing of the engine and the detailing of the ammunition bays for the wing guns. The engine cylinders were painted aluminum, weathered with black and dark gray pastel chalk, then the photo etch wiring was added. The hub was painted neutral gray and detailed with silver and black. The wiring was panted canvas brown. I used some decals from Thunder Cal’s 48005 Thunderbolt Type 4 Insignia + Data 2 decal set for the ID plates. I opted to use the open cowl flaps so I added the cowl braces included with the photo etch set. The engine was mounted into the cowl and the assembly was mounted to the fuselage.

Next I cut open the panels in the wing (a tutorial on cutting open panels will be posted later this week) and assembled the photo etch ammunition bays. The ammo belts were then fed into them and mounted to the wing. A little detail painting and the bays are done. I am working on the landing gear bays now.

This week’s update covers the landing gear bays and the landing gear. The bays were detailed with the photo etch side panels and cables/lines. The tail wheel was then painted and installed. I used the photo etch doors for the tail wheel.  The main gear was then detailed and painted along with a couple of kit decals for the landing gear placards. Some photo etch details were added to the fuselage and I started the base coat of paint on the bottom and the ID stripes on the tail and stabilizers.

Working on painting the base coat of the invasion stripes on the lower fuselage and wings then I will be starting the decals.

For this week on the Thunderbolt I have most of the base coat painting done. I have the invasion stripes painted on. The main landing gear doors were then painted. For the insignias on the side of the fuselage I scanned the decals into the computer then printed them onto a sheet of paper. The insignias were then cut out and I taped them to a wide piece of blue painters tape on a piece of glass. A hobby knife was then used to trim around the paper leaving me with a mask for them. The mask was then removed from the glass and aligned into position. I did this so that the area under the insignias would not have the black and white stripes show thru the decals. The white area was painted then the black stripes.


The side insignias on the aircraft have a natural metal finish (NMF) outline just under the insignia. The decal set provides this. Once the insignia decal was placed I carefully slid the NMF stripes into place. There is also a couple of NMF decals for the intercooler doors. While it may look a little tricky to place the decals on the various surfaces it went very well. The decals conform well and fit into the areas perfectly.

Since I have the ammunition doors open, I once again used the paper insignia to mark where the decal goes and where I needed to make cuts for the ammo panel and the wing. I then scored the surface of the decal where the cuts were needed and slid the decal into place. While the decals are nice and thin, They are not difficult to maneuver into place.

The landing gear was attached and the center drop tank was detailed and installed. I still have some of the side decals to install and then the checkers for the nose. Then I can move on to the finer details and weathering.


The P-47D Thunderbolt “Bubbletop” is now complete. The decals went on extremely well. The checkers on the nose fit perfectly. I would recommend the Thunder Cal decals. They are very easy to work with and the instructions are very detailed showing exact placement. I used set 48006 but I also suggest using 48005 which covers the type 4 insignia’s and all the data placards for the aircraft including the engine. They also have 4 other sets for P-47’s, Check out their website at   Thunder Cals Decal sets

The Eduard detail set adds some very nice details to the cockpit and fuselage. The kit itself is very nice. No fit issues at all and goes together very well. I really enjoyed building this and will need to get the P-47M to complete the line of Tamiya P-47’s. Now on to the final photos.


7 thoughts on “1/48 P-47D Thunderbolt “Bubbletop”

  1. anthony dagostino July 29, 2019 — 1:19 am

    Looks like a nice set of decals. I personally would love to see what you could do with a bare metal foil paint scheme, but the only bird that matches is MA Cherie, probably not exactly kid friendly, but done right, would make a beautiful build.

    Look forward to another master class in modeling,


  2. Very nice P-47, well done, superb.

  3. Mike Linderman April 4, 2020 — 5:20 pm

    Hi, new here but I have a p-47 D that I found by testors at a thrift store and would you know which detail kits would fit it. Most importantly the cockpit.

    Thank you kindly if you would reply positive or negative

    1. Check out Scalemates. They list the kit and all the accessories for that kit. https://www.scalemates.com/kits/testors-500-p-47d-thunderbolt–972456

  4. Mike Linderman April 4, 2020 — 5:22 pm

    Above, that p-47D is 1/48 scale

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close