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P-47-D-25-RE - workshop

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P-47-D-25-RE, Lt. Col. Francis Gabreski, CO 61 FS, 56 FG, Boxted , July 1944.
This is quite strange model. I have built it as  a correction of my first model production.

 

P-47-D-25-RE,

Lt. Col. Francis Gabreski,

CO 61 FS, 56 FG,

Boxted , July 1944.

 

This is quite strange model. I have built it as  a correction of my first model production. It had looked like that:

 

 

P-47 was a pain in the donkey looking at me from a shelf, especially with it’s silly interpretation  of  the camouflage . I have decided to repaint it finally. Nothing special – simple paint job, two weeks at the most. When I’d taken the craft with my hand, I saw there is this little stupid item so easy to correct. Then another one and another, and another… In the end the work took ‘most two years and resulted with this:

 

(photo: Wojtek Fajga)

The gallery of the finished model

While the built lasted, I’ve walked away from any idea resulting in total disassembly of the kit.  In that case I’d just buy me  a new model. This led me to leaving  few outstanding mistakes untouched. The things quite easy to overcome during the normal building process.

 

DESIGN

I have not taken my time to prepare the right design of my work. The former decision about simple repainting the kit, never looked like anything that would need it. The lack of plan had led to many difficult situations , where I have had to  repair my model. Fitted too soon  elements broken many times, wrong sequence of  painting with terrible result – things like that. Some of the building phases forced me to prepare a specific plan for them only, of course, and I have not forgotten to pile up and use few pounds of documentation books and articles.

 

CONSTRUCTION

After pulling off everything I was able to grab with my hand , or some tool , I saw such a view.

 

 

This was the moment, when I found out that all those little items were of no good or they were not existing at all. I wanted to correct that. There you are, having two ways of choice. You may plan precisely and stick to your plan producing excellent detail, or you may improvise with any materials and ideas you can have. The second option is much closer to my heart. There is a price of course. It actually happens very seldom to get your target at the first try so usually you go over the procedure once and again.  There is also no excuse for the modeler. He can explain  no errors in his model with lack of tools or material, for writing  about them I mean all that rubbish every modeler treats as the greatest treasure. Most of my wrong tries finished their lives in the basket  but few of them You’ll have a chance to see below.

 

Cockpit & Neighborhood

Unfortunately  cockpit  was very  correction proof. Never succeeded in tearing off the instrument panel. I have faced the total destruction of the frame. Fearing this, I went for one and only Bubble Top with typical for Razorback  fabric cover of the panel. Plastic stick was used for a core, bent, glued into cut out roots and polished. Tamiya tape, soaked with CA glue  made the cover. I was also able to tear out the seat. The new one came out as PE part found in the spare box. The frame and fittings were scratch build with use of  hypodermic syringe needles and  some plastic.

 

The new rails for sliding Canopy were made and  the jack moving in those rails as well. The first try was wrong and fit was impossible to achieve. The new one got leading lines going around rolls formed in the shape of red mushrooms. Fixing the canopy I have cheated a little. The hood is not fitted to the leading jack and there is probably  no contact at all between those parts. Probably, as the touching  point is hidden deeply in the shadow and it is impossible to see how it went.

The armoured plate behind the seat needed to be risen. This gave me some troubles, as the joining spaces were small and thin . I had to cheat here too, adding  thin plastic stick as a kind of support where the headrest part joined the rest of the plate. I had to fill and file the place of course. Very thin wire goes for joining rib.

 

There were moulding restovers  left on the control stick handle. I had to tear of the stick. Using  tamiya tape I have made handle lining and  leather cover of the root of the stick. Thus needed a special construction, as tearing the stick had left the pyramid shaped base of the column glued to the floor, just as invented by Academy. My irregular cover had to cope with it, still fitting to the floor on the sides.

 

The canopy is Squadron product. Yet it lacked the bright, tin frames at the base of the windscreen. I have given those the right shape by careful filling and sanding. The mirror is what I was able to get from  a peanut tin. Nothing special really, but when You place Your lighting right it shines just like a real thing. The aiming point on the hood in front of the windscreen closed this area operations.

 

Finished model:

 

Engine

There is not much you can see behind bright blades of Hamilton Standard screw. This I have borrowed from Tamiya kit. Do not intend to give it back anyway. The original Academy engine asked for replacement . I used cylinder stars left over after Hasegawa’s Hellcat and Tamiya’s Corsair  builds. I added rough imitation of exhaust system  found in the F4U kit. Had to fix such a puzzle together  because of the difference in diameter of the stars and the need of filling the empty space which surly would have shown up under opened cooling flaps.

I had to lower down the ceiling of the oil coolers so the new, bigger P&W could fit in. I have also made some corrections and replacements  to the cylindrical block of the engine to get right fit and positioning of the propeller too.

 

The engine itself has got  some little additions, tappet pipes and ignition cords fixed with wire clasps.

First try with C- shaped clasps was a failure just as the idea of  plastic cords.

 

Final try with fishing line cords and 0-shaped  clasps.

 

Finished model:

 

Steering surfaces

Well, I never wanted to recycle the filed off ailerons and rudders so I have helped myself using Aires resin for them. The sockets had to be filled  and shaped. It was also necessary to make the horizontal stabilizers longer, which I have received by adding some plastic plates (blue on the pictures). The trouble of  right fit and angles I have overcame by fitting them first more or less correctly and then braking them gently enough not to let them fall apart and filling the crack line with CA glue . This time in final position. I have also produced the sockets for horizontals axis and  covers for the hinges out of  PE leftovers. The thinnest wires imitate the actuators of the trimming flaps. To manipulate such a tiny items I use plastic stick stretched over the fire with flat tip about half of the mm in diameter. Saliva is the transporting glue. The smallest drops of  CA glue transported with the thinnest plastic rods make the parts stay fixed. Sometimes CA is replaced by clear lacquer as it was with trimmer actuators fitted on already painted areas.

 

Finished model:

 

Undercarriage

The main legs have been supplemented with new  metal  pipes and the scissors system (that’s how we call in Poland the hinges holding the wheel straight and preventing its horizontal rotation – no idea how it goes in English) scratch built from plastic. It always pays off to have a long good look on the hydraulic braking lines. Often it turns out they are a combined rubber – metal system. The covers are Aires resin but the actuators of the inside covers I have made of  syringe needles with Tamiya tape bands. Those I soaked with CA.

The tail wheel I have recovered from the kit part, cutting and filing as it goes. The new strut  has been sculptured from plastic and fitted with metal pipe axis system. The tyre has been flattened by  pressing it against hot tin plate. It was important to choose the pressing point rightly as I wanted to hide the scratches left by rough recovering of  the wheel  under the new strut.

The back wheel covers have been made of various plastic scratches. The well has been covered with typical for Jugs fabric apron, shaped  after few tries with tamiya tape. There is skeleton  construction under the apron made out of plastic rods. It is supposed to give it the suitable basic shape. I have not  forgotten  the overlap with poppers.

 

Finished model:

 

The airframe equipment

This is the space, where  modeler can step away from the standard look of his work. Every model has a cockpit and undercarriage. But all those little details piling up to make the airframe work are not a common thing and as a rule are not a part of  the kit moulding. Although very tiny and often almost impossible to see, these are the things that make a difference. The admirers probably wouldn’t even notice most of them, yet with no trouble at all they will see the model as better then the one lacking those items. To make it rightly you have to learn why had they been placed in the plane and how they operated. This will be necessary when a modeler hits the wall, and sooner or later he will. Simplifying the construction in scale it is important not to put it in contrary to its operational and functional rules. In that case the simplification will stand up as dreadful mistake. But if  modeler  makes no functional bollocks, everybody will see only unbelievable precision.

Hardpoints

The main  P-47 hardpoint is:

 

-Construction beam

Of  filed  PE restovers.

 

-Stabilizers  with ‘mushrooms’ on the ends of stabilizing screws.

Of  the flattened injecton needles and plastic sticks. It is enough  to put the stick close to the candle flame and the ‘mushroom’ head will form itself. To get four stabilizers I needed to produce some ‘teen mushroomed sticks so I could choose most similar to each other. There is no need to have the heads pointing in the same direction. The stabilizing ‘mushrooms’ were assembled loose so they could adjust to bombs or tanks.

-Fuel and bleeding lines.

Wires, plastic lines, injection needles shaped and fixed as necessary. It is always better to get the right shape and preassemble the items so you could operate them as the whole element later on. Makes fit and painting much easier.

Unfortunately I have been unable to establish the precise picture of  the system. It is as close to original as I could get.

 

Finished model:

 

Armament

There are no 0’5” Browning barrels sticking out of  the P-47 wings. Those are blast tubes of course as many modelers happen to forget. I made them with help of immortal injection needles choosing suitable diameters so they could fit one into another and still look realistic. More fun I have hade making the sealing plates. I have punched them of the self-adhesive flat silver foil. The specially prepared tool made of filed hex key and… syringe needle (what else?) .I  had no trust in foil glue and was afraid  it may ‘stand up’ after spraying, so I  have had helped it with very small CA drops. It is just a must to use fresh glue. It runs into the gap by itself. Before opening the glue I pressed my sealing plates rolling over them hard cylindrical objects like file handles and, guess -  hypodermic syringe needles.

 

Finished model:

 

Lighting

All the lighting of the underside of the craft has been left as it was after the first assembly of the model just as the cockpit lamps.

The wing position lights has been made out of the clear plastic pieces. Could not find thick enough clear plastic in my house, but following the rule: ‘there must be a way’ I  formed a composite of two thinner parts. Then filing and polishing as usual. Little holes have been drilled from the back. In I’ve poured a bit of paint – red and green as it is to get me the bulbs. The same process went for tail light less the bulbs. It was silly of me not to cover the root part of this light with some silver or white paint. After spraying the rudder red the clear end of the light looks as red as everything around.

 

Sockets and lines

The sockets I have made, were armored with syringe needles pieces rightly cut. This goes for construction pipe in the tail of the plane used to heave it up while correcting the guns mount for example.

 

Finished model:

 

Sockets were made for antenna line too. The receiving antenna out of few nylon threads pulled out of my wife’s stocking has got itself  the straining spring, isolator and mounting rings. Very thin wire and plastic lollypop holder, stretched over the flame were used. The only real trouble here  was the fact I could not reach the fixing point of the line from inside of the fuselage. So I had to stretch the nylon  line and predict its length before assembly. I never new  how strong my spring could be so I had to take some risk here. The spring happened to be quite strong and the whole system is beautifully stretched.

In addition to whip antenna socket I have built the tail spur protecting the frame and used to heave up the back of the craft. The tin collar of the spur has been made the same way the sealing plates of the guns were prepared. The outer shape of the collar has been cut out freehand with the Olfa knife. It is possible to cut  almost invisible pieces of the foil having it pasted on something flat and hard as glass plate for example.

 

Finished model:

 

 

The draining system of the airframe had its outlet just behind the wing root at the starboard side. The ever ready needles and plastic sticks did the job of reproducing pipes and taps..

In the cockpit there is the other end of  one of the lines. It helped the pilot in case he was silly enough to drink too much tea before the long mission.  For the production of the funnel I have stretched over the fire a piece of the sprue . I have used the part where the stretched line starts to get thicker, forming the funnel naturally.

 

Finished model:

 

The gun camera socket and the cockpit air inlet were placed close to each other at the root of the star wing. They have been made in similar way. The camera has got its space by drilling  a hole and trimming the space around it. I have placed the optics represented by needles  into the hole. A drop of glossy clear went for the lenses. The trimmed step worked as the socket for a window cut of  from some clear foil. The spaces have been sealed, filed and polished. A little rectangle of Tamiya  tape established the shape of the window. Tearing off this piece of  tape was the last thing I have done while building this model, I belive.

 

The air inlet has been assembled from plastic sheets taken from some package. The kitchen cloth made by Vileda was very helpful while polishing the inside of the duct. The cloth is similar to micromesh material. Not as good but comes handy here and there.

 

I have cheated a bit  making the shape of the duct not strictly oval.  I hoped it will not be obvious in such a small and hidden element. OK, I’ve checked it shooting with a flash into the inlet before I closed the gaps with putty.

 

Finished model:

 

Exhaust

The exhaust system of P-47  shows up at the Airframe in few places. There is  straight outlet at the bottom of the nose part behind the engine (here are also  outlets of the oil cooling air with  regulation flaps and  deflectors preserving the interference of this air  and  fumes) and the supercharger exhaust down at the tail. Just in front of the latter there are characteristic ventilation gills. None of those elements looked decent in the kit.

Friendly syringe needles, filed PE tins and plastic were helpful by solving the problem.

I’ve been coming back to sanding the edges of the supercharger cover many times, although every time I’ve been deciding they were thin enough. Few days pass and a man looks at things from a different point of view.

 

 

 

Finished model:

 

PAINT JOB

Reconstruction of the aircraft appearance.


I have decided to produce the last version of 4226418.  During her three month duty the craft has been repainted few times. Each operation has left its specific sign on the surface. The process of spraying  and the exact map of the colors needed a lot of search and conclusions before the plan of  paint job could be written. This is one of those parts of the building process where careful planning has been absolutely necessary. The exploitation signs have been included too. The camouflage painting and  weathering very often come together  interfering and it is impossible to treat them separately.

To establish the looks of this Jug I have studied probably all existing shots of the plane, read few articles and once again read the pilot’s memoirs, looking for those very rare fragments according to the appearance  of the craft. All that additional information may come very handy when it comes to interpret the photographs and color profiles. You have to be careful with the latter as authors are only people too, and capable of making mistakes or interpretations of their own. The older profiles are handicapped by lower standards obtaining  the days of yore.

 

As it is well known, the camouflage of Gabreski’s T,Bolt  is documented only partially, although the craft has been photographed quite often. Propaganda rules were in force of course and there are pictures of Gabby in cockpit with ground kills added to his  board tally. These were as good as any by Mighty Eight rules but the pilot never payed much attention to them, as Schacki never placed straffing kills  stickers on his boss’ Bolt.

 

The upper surfaces are mostly white splotches on the map. I have analyzed them as well as I could. You can go for it using three ways. The first, considering modeler may paint anything as there is no photo documentation,  I have discarded giving it no second thought. The second  one goes for reproducing  the camo with transferring the motives visible on the shots to the unknown parts. It is possible to defence  such an idea observing the  beginnings of the camouflage patterns on the front edge of the wing. I have seen models done this way and  never liked them. The looks were somehow strange and artificial.

The way I have chosen was based on pilot’s wish to have a plane painted in professional, functional way – the way German fighters were camouflaged and on the assumption the D-Day stripes were painted simultaneously to the colors and the patterns under  the zebra were never planned. Thus has led me to producing relatively large color patterns on the wings in the areas with no stripes, which in fact has ment  the tips of the wings, as the inside parts of them were covered by splotches coming down from the fuselage, even though  invasion stripes of this frame were painted a bit farther  outside  then standard placing. The camouflage painted on the stripes came out itself by joining the right color patterns planned on both sides of the stripes.

 

Writing all this  I want to press a point showing it is not enough to follow kit instructions to produce realistic looks of the aircraft. It is much more than just  photos of the real object to look for. Modeler needs to find out all those rules, habits, rituals and events that has been taking place when the ground crews grabbed the spray gun.

 

So I started to put all these conclusions on the paper. First of all I have prepared profiles showing the known camouflage pattern.

 

I have added my supposed color map then.

The drawing  below is just an instruction to move the aerograph rightly.  There are many things omitted  even when it comes to camouflage itself. This is a design and as that it will need some corrections in practice.

 

It is not known for sure what the underside of the plane looked like. The Jug has reached England in NMF and was painted  in 56th FG with British  Day Fighter scheme colors. It is almost sure the horizontal stabilizers and rudders have been left unpainted. There are pictures showing black ETO bands there. These were painted back in Farmingsdale and there was no sense in  repainting them in presence of D-Day stripes. They were not repainted on the upper surfaces anyway. The fuselage underside looks very  grey on the pictures. There are wing tips left. I have came to conclusion the time pressure forced the painters to leave the trouble gaining areas untouched. Wing tips with USAAF stars surely were not easy to mask.

I am conscious of the fact it is only one of the possible interpretations.

 

The wethearing plan has been made as separate investigation. It was necessary as none exploitation signs can be spied  on the A/C shots. I have looked through quantities of Thunderbolt pictures looking for scratches and dirt typical for this frame. I’ve paid most attention to the shots  of 56th FG Jugs. The result of my research has been placed on weathering plan with ‘links’ to the books pages and other editions containing the suitable pictures.

 

Now I only had to paint all that staff on my model with enough feeling to produce realistic looks of the aircraft after few correctional paint jobs and yet well kept and lacking  showing out damagies . I have not wanted the expression of clean airframe to shade the model with unrealistic looks and still not to make well-groomed fighter looking filthy.

 

Planning

I have started with making general schedule pointing places painted with dedicated colors and the order of work.

 

Planning my paint job I have been  wandering what am I against of. The complicated and chaotic drawing of the camouflage patterns  usually looks this way on the models – chaotic.  But whatever chaotic complication happened to be sprayed on the real thing, for modeler is only another task to fulfill. Basing on the photographs it is possible to follow the lines sprayed with a gun.  Those known from the shots need a special care as these are the spaces where observers will check in the first place. Then it is good to find places tending to focus admirers attention with their shape, placing or specific composition. You’d rather be careful there too. Then there is time for finding out all those small,  you’d think, elements typical for  the airframe we work on. Different  repair paint jobs, spraying mistakes or little camouflage details. In the end there come things like stickers. These could look different then the paint on the model too.

All these elements are supposed to work as contrasting accents and seduce the admirers and critics. The plan is also to throw , oh yes, some sand into their eyes so they would not start looking for  our  inevitable, unfortunately, mistakes.

Facing this it is really wise to spent some time analyzing and planning modelers operations, especially as it is  necessary to plot in the wheathering job. It is better not to think of  the work as a standard procedure. The plan of steps to be taken and workshop techniques will differ according to what we are against of. And we are usually against something completely different opening another kit box.

 

Workshop

The order of the paint Job is kind of individual decision and there is certainly no fixed sequence. I have started with underside area  following the rule of painting the lighter colors first. The rule kicked back on me when it came to paint the insignia stars. The operation ended with visible edges of white underlay and forced me into series of uncomfortable corrections. I have also coped with D-Day stripes. Unfortunately I have placed them in standard positions on the wings and had to correct that too.

 

 

 

Together with spraying  underside of the  plane I have started weathering job. Using the aerograph I have darkened the panel lines with colors chosen specifically for  camouflage paints. It was darker metaliser for NMF areas. The grey panels have been lightened step by step, with a drop of white added to aerograph tank and the sprayed areas  being made smaller with every passage. I have also sprayed the underlays for smoke stains from belly exhausts.

 

 

It is important to think of wheathering as a process of reproducing the actual looks of the real thing in scale. You’ve got to find out what is to achieve and how it can be achieved. There is no such thing as typical wheatherig process, as there are so many ways the aircrafts can show weariness on their surfaces, considering the material they are made of, the place and circumstances oft their duty and the moment of their lives we want to portrait.

 

The camouflage of the upper part was a real challenge. As I’ve never even imagined the masking idea in this case, I knew pretty well, there would be a lot of repeating and correction job necessary . And so it  was. After drawing the lines on the kit with a pencil I have handsprayed it many times, changing grey for green and back again. There was no other way to reach the deep transmissivity of the colors and stick to the shape at the same time. The camouflage has been becoming more detailed and precise with every session . The process has been based on the old artist’s rule: ‘from genarality to detail’ . Careful sanding and polishing followed every spraying.

 

 

The panel lines of the upper surfaces were underlined too with transparent paint in dark shadow chosen to fit both camouflage colors. The lines have been stressed by brushing some dry pastel powder into them. This time the shades fitted the paint only were visibly darker. I mixed in some black powder  here and there, when necessary. The operation has been repeated few times as a result of other work phases. Spraying the transparent colors and clears may affect the powders and corrections inevitably have to come. You can’t do it just once and control the result at the same time.

The surface has been patinated a little by subtle  lightening of the colors. As the next step I have sprayed the new paint areas with full intensive shades. The places where D-Day stripes were overpainted is what I mean. I have also prepared underlays for 0.5” Browning smoke stains using transparent  shade. These needed shape corrections with greys and greens as You can easily imagine.

 

 

 

All those operations, with additional effect of different measure of  shine achieved in specific places ( ‘fresh painted’ areas and polished with a wind front edges of the wings -  a bit more shiny and rather flat old paint) has helped me to get the effect of changing aircraft surfaces’ shine and deepness of the shadows considering the direction of the light source and point of watcher’s  view.

 

 

In the meantime I have started to reproduce all the details I talked about before. I have painted the out of line oversprays, which showed off as a result of hasty serial number and D-Day stripes spraying, added precise elements of the camouflage spied in the area of code letters and taken care of the white, little  splotch under the beam  of  the starboard side, fuselage insignia star so it would not be forgotten ( it came out as a result of  pulling off the masking tape with a bit of a paint, I suppose – just like it happens to us from time to time). I have also painted the white backgrounds for decals. These were: personnel card, which I had to design and print myself and kill marks. I t has been necessary as Techmod  decals for Gabreski’s Bubble Top are quite transparent and the drawing of the camouflage would be still traceable after sticking them on. And the personnel card was printed on clear decal sheet.

I have still been fighting with the camouflage at the time. The last corrections took place few months after first color spraying. Working on camouflage like this one,  it is inevitable to take what you have painted just as it is, with mistakes, simplifications  and all. Some of them may pass your attention unspotted. But then, succeeding steps of the work will bring them out to light and the passing of time helps you to get some distance to the necessity of  corrections and they are not such a pain in the donkey any more. Of course there is no place here for thick layers of  paint at all!

 

 

 

 

The exploitation marks I  planned as numbers of scratches, abrasions, and smoke/fluid stains have been produced on the model with the help of any tool and medium  I could think of. Brushes soft and hard, cut in different ways, toothpicks and plastic sticks to put enamels, metalisers and pastel powder on the model have been operated. I have also worked with grey and silver color pencils.

Producing  tiny points and scratches with thin plastic sticks, rubbing the powders into the surface, loosing luster with dry, hard, short cut brush, classic painting with  00 brushes and a toothpick, moistening the powders with them – all them techniques have been used. After the protective layer of clear laq and the next layers supposed to give the Jug some suitable, graded shiny – flat effect, the wheathering  job has been repeated and corrected in few places. I added some sanded pencil lead to  smoke stains to suggest their oily structure.  Then  I  chose areas to be polished or delicately sanded and have done it.

 

 

 

 

Finally I have placed the decals. Not all of them. Those representing the painted items (personnel panel and ‘No Step’ writings on the roots of the wings) have been taken care of before.  Now was the time to put on what was a sticker in real world too. I have cut of the kill flags one by one and placed them on the board on my white backgrounds.  Then I have cut black decal stripes to imitate the inch isolation tape used to correct uneven lines of D-Day decoration on Gabreski’s P-47. I have taken a lot of care to place them right leaving the white oversprays visible on black stripes. Took me lot of stress to paint them, so it would be really a shame to cover them.

The decals have been left unprotected. I wanted them to be in contrast to model surface and look what they really were – stickers.

 

 

In the end I would like to add one thing. All the operations I’ve been talking about were supported by many tries and tests, executed aside to find out what the tested  technique would bring as You can see by these examples. Don’t touch your model unless you’re pretty confident what you’ll get in the end.

 

 

This is a practice essential to eliminate the wrong ideas and those are, unfortunately, not so seldom as us, modelers, would wish to be.

 

What I have done can be seen below:

 

 

(photo: Wojtek Fajga)

And I invite You once again to the model’s gallery: P-47D-25-RE

Radosław Jurczyk (photo: Radosław Jurczyk)

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