P-47D Thunderbolt – “Magic Carpet”

Vital Stats

  • Manufacturer: Tamiya
  • Scale: 1:48
  • Aircraft: Republic P-47D-20 Thunderbolt
  • Markings: “Magic Carpet” | Lt. Col. Harold Holt | 390th FS | 366th FG | 9th Air Force | January 1945
  • Aftermarket: Ultracast seat | Ultracast wheels | Eduard PE placard set | Master brass blast tubes | Zotz decals


I’ve been keen to build Holt’s “Magic Carpet” ever since seeing it in an episode of Dogfights several years ago. The unique livery and the Jug’s participation in the low-altitude dogfight over Y-29 during Operation Bodenplatte lent the plane both a distinctive look and historical import, either of which can sucker me in.

Overall, the build experience was a delight. Tamiya’s Razorback – alongside their -D Bubbletop and -M – is easily one of the best kits ever offered in 1/48 scale. Well-detailed, well-engineered, and it goes together like a dream. In my opinion, if you’re keen to build a Jug, there are two choices. The old Revellogram kits – which are inexpensive and build up nicely – or Tamiya’s offerings, which blow the flying sledgehammer out of the water. Everything else – particularly the Hasegawa and Academy kits – plays in a muddled middle ground, not as cheap as the Revellograms, and not as good as the Tamiya. So it ultimately comes down to your priorities – affordability or superiority (though the Tamiya Razorback can easily be had for $30 if you hunt around).

All in all, “Magic Carpet” has been one of my favorite builds to date, and is apparently well-liked by others, as well, taking 1st place in 1/48th Allied Single-Engine Props at ModelFiesta 31 in February 2012!

UPDATE: “Magic Carpet” also snagged 1st in 1/48 Allied Small Props at the Austin contest in October 2012!

Detail – 5

It’s hard to imagine where this kit could be improved. The seat, perhaps, but it’s already very good as far as injection plastic goes. Separate control surfaces maybe, but the Jug’s controls were spring-loaded and wouldn’t be seen out of neutral. Even the bomb racks and sway braces are top notch. One detail I’d love to see that is just flat omitted would be cluster bombs to go alongside the bazooka rockets and 500-lb bombs included in the kit.

Engineering – 5 

The thought that went into how this kit builds up is rather impressive, from the wing spar that ensures proper dihedral, locates the fuselage halves, and supports the cockpit to the way the engine, intake scoop and other go-bits slot into the cowl, allowing for greater detail and for painting elements separately. Another nice touch – the control surfaces are molded to the tops of the wings and elevators, omitting the need to thin trailing edges and deal with gluing and cleanup.

Fit – 5

Where engineering meets buildability. The Tamiya kit shines here as well. Things just fit. The cockpit can literally go together without glue, and stay together. The fuselage is just about perfect, and the wings fit so tight that I didn’t have to use any glue along the top of the wing roots. The only issue I encountered was with the canopy. The sliding portion sits funny when posed open, but must be placed first if being posed closed. This makes installing the windscreen a challenge, since it has to angle in. Ultimately, I had to thin the armored glass mounting plate and mount it to the top of the instrument panel rather than the windscreen. Even then it took some shoving, but the result is about as tight a fit as I’ve ever seen between windscreen and canopy.

Instructions – 5

Typical Tamiya instructions – well laid out, informative, and accurate. My only quibble, as with all instructions, would be providing the paint codes on a separate little sheet. I’ve come to recognize some Tamiya paints by their codes alone – XF-4 = yellow green, for example – but having the reference on-hand instead of having to navigate back to the front would be a nice touch.

Markings – 5

I used Zotz decals for the majority of the markings, and was actually disappointed in them. They are better than the Tamiya decals I used on my Fw 190A-3, and the colors are great, but they were thicker than I’d thought they would be and  gave some headaches in terms of sucking down into details. Additionally, some of the  stencil data was incorrect. I’ve since heard that some Zotz sheets are better than others, so we’ll see.






8 Comments Add yours

  1. BCZ says:

    Awesome model Doog. Would/Could you provide a list of references that you suggest for the P-47?

    1. Doogs says:

      My favorite reference is the Mushroom Models Publications P-47 Bubbletop book. Excellent reference photos and it comes with scale plans in 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32 scale.

      If you want to get into specific units and whatnot, it gets hairier. There’s tons out there. I actually just ordered a book on French Jugs for my next build…but the P-47 was the most-produced American fighter of the war, and probably the most photographed, so there’s just tons of material out there to be had and picked through.

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