On the Bench: 1/48 Tamiya P-47D-25 Thunderbolt in French Livery


On October 1, Scale Plastic & Rail kicked off its second group build, “In Foreign Colours”. I’m still full bore on my two stealth builds, but I also need something I can swing over to when I need a lighter night at the bench.

I’d first aimed for Trumpeter’s 1/48 MiG-15bis, until I found it wasn’t going to be anything like a walk in the park. Back into the box it went.

Casting about, I kept coming back to the idea of a French Jug. Tamiya’s 1/48 P-47 is pretty much my favorite kit (I’ve built two of them now), and it doesn’t take much to convince me to pull another out of the stash. I know it, I love it, and after  “Magic Carpet” took first place in 1/48 Allied Small Props at both ModelFiesta and the Austin contest this year, I have to say the kit’s been good to me.

The more I thought about it, the more inevitable it became.

The Jug in French Service

After the Battle of France in 1940, several French pilots refused to surrender and stole out to Britain or French North Africa to carry on the fight. While a few, such as the famous Pierre Clostermann, were incorporated into the national air forces of the allies, many continued to serve in the Free French Air Force, which was equipped with Allied aircraft and which served more or less throughout Europe. Several FAFL (Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres) units participated in D-Day, while the famed Normandie-Niemen regiment flew Yak fighters alongside the Soviets on the Eastern Front. A bulk of the French units, however, operated in the Mediterranean and southern Europe, flying sorties against German ground targets in northern Italy and southern France.

The P-47 I’m planning to build was a member of Groupe de Chasse I/5 “Champagne”, which formed in September 1943 flying P-39 Airacobras before transitioning to the Jug. They were one of the many groups operating in southern Europe, with missions taking them into Italy, France and Germany before the end of the war.

I wish I could say that C9-I did something amazingly noteworthy, but to be honest I’ve been unable to track down anything on the plane apart from its existence. Still…the striking yellow bands on the wings, tail and cowl flaps was more than enough to sell me on the machine.

Aftermarket Bonanza

In past P-47s, I’ve used a small but potent selection of aftermarket bits. Ultracast seats and tires, Eduard’s P-47 placards set, and Master blast tubes. This time around, I’m blowing it out a bit more:

  • Ultracast seat – still an amazing seat. This time I’ll be using one without the harness molded in, so I can use…
  • HGW microtextile harness – these things are the business. Seriously. Having used them once, I’m smitten. They put photo-etch belts to absolute shame.
  • Eduard interior photo-etch – in the past I’ve used the basic placard set. This time I’m going deeper with the interior PE, which will included a replacement instrument panel.
  • Ultracast block-tread tires – Because the diamond tread gets boring after awhile.
  • Quickboost R-2800 engine – Supposedly a drop-in replacement for the already solid Tamiya kit engine.
  • Marking masks – So far as I know, no one makes markings for C9-I, so I’m going to have some custom masks done up.

Right now I’m still waiting for everything to come in…but stay tuned for updates!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Tom Murphy says:


    I,m building the tamiya p47d paperback. I am planning on adding rivets to the unpainted airframe with a riveting wheel then priming with guns black Mr surfacer. I,m concerned with losing the rivet depressions as I apply multiple coats of marbling and topcoat. How can I avoid this situation? Can you give me any ideas?

    Thanks for your time!


    1. Doogs says:

      Paint thin and paint small. I’ve literally never had a problem with paint obscuring detail.

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