Republic P-47M Thunderbolt

I always love the 56th Fighter Group.  They were the most successful Fighter Group of the 8th Air Force in air to air combat, and they were the only Fighter Group that hadn’t converted to Mustangs by war’s end; they kept their beloved Thunderbolts in spite of pressure from 8th Fighter Command and Washington to give them up.  The advantages of being the best…


After the jump, we’ll look at a late war 56th Fighter Group Thunderbolt.

Starting in early 1944 most new aircraft delivered to the US Army Air Force came in a bare aluminum finish. But in the weeks leading up to D-Day an order went out for “tactical” aircraft, especially those that might relocate to the continent, to be given camouflage.  56th Fighter Group surely knew they weren’t really considered tactical, they were attached to the 8th Air Force whose mission was strategic bombardment.  But I think someone at Group HQ didn’t like silver much.  All three of the group’s squadrons were given unique camouflage colors.  62nd Fighter Squadron took an almost British looking Green/Grey scheme.  63rd Squadron took on a more garish light blue/dark blue scheme.  While the 61st Squadron, the subject here, painted their upper surfaces black.  Maybe.  They were known as the “black-bolts” and they sure look black in period photos.  But a few veterans have said (at least some of) the paint was sourced from a local auto body shop and had a distinct red/burgundy cast to it.  So that’s what I recreated here.  I think its a very fun look.



Also of interest, the 56th Fighter Group was uniquely equipped with the ultra high performance P-47M model.  Due to the German jet threat, and delays in getting an American jet into combat, the P-47M was sort of an emergency stop-gap.  It used the high output version of the R-2800 engine being developed for the long range (and much heavier) P-47N Thunderbolt, on the earlier, and smaller, P-47D airframe.  There were serious teething problems with the engine, and horror of horrors, the 56th had to fly a few missions with Mustangs before their P-47Ms were fully combat ready.  But with 2800 hp and a top speed of 473 mph it may have been worth the wait.  The 56th would be the only operator of the P-47M.

IMG_8043 IMG_8042

I also like its comparatively clean lines.  While most Thunderbolts had racks and hard points for extra ordnance or fuel under the wings, the M model did not.  The original designer of the T-Bolt, Alexander Kartveli, had always opposed hanging “Christmas ornaments” under his airplane.  But the realities of combat dictated otherwise. Kartveli was undoubtedly pleased that the M model left the factory clean except for the belly rack.


This is the Tamiya P-47M kit with PYN-up Decals.

“Lorene” was flown by Lt. Russell Kyler, and was named for his girlfriend.

About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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14 Responses to Republic P-47M Thunderbolt

  1. Costas says:

    Very interesting subjects you’ve chosen to present here, Dave.
    I suppose they are mostly 1/48 scale, right? Although I dabble exclusively in 1/72 and 1/76 scales, I feel I must say that they all look amazing. I like the subtle weathering you do and I would very much like to do more planes instead of the armor I’ve been modeling lately, but this can be attributed to lack of room to put the completed models. As for the P-47M, I really dig the 63rd’s two-tone blue camo, but the black scheme isn’t half bad, IMHO.

    P.S.: NAA actually had a project for a carrier capable Mustang, called NA-133, based on the H airframe, which would have incorporated a tail hook (of course), catapult spools (naturally), folding wings (duh) and tip tanks (that was unexpected). 😉

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah this is all 1/48th, well except for the museum’s P-38. Display space sure is easier for the armor! Knowing what to do with all my built aircraft is a chronic problem, and it’s the main reason I build mostly fighters!

      Thanks for the kind words, it’s always great to be appreciated by another modeler! Although, you might not want to look at my armor too closely…

      I did do “Fireball” from the 63rd FS a few years ago, but I’m not happy with the result. So I think I’ll take another stab at it before I post one.

      I’ve seen the hooked Mustang, definitely had possibilities! But it was mostly a post-war project, which puts it a little outside my wheel house.

      You may motivate me to start my PZL P.24 in Greek markings…

      • Costas says:

        P.24F or G? Silver or camo? 😉

      • atcDave says:

        I know I’ve got both my stash (the Mirage kit). I don’t remember right off which was which for sure; but I think the plan was to do a Turkish one in silver and a Greek one in camo. Funny those two countries using the same fighter!

      • atcDave says:

        Okay, some quick research, looks like I’ll be building a silver Turkish “G” and camo Greek “F”. Eventually.

  2. Pingback: North American P-51B Mustang | Plane Dave

  3. Terry Brodin says:

    On the topside view, the natural metal wing leading edge, at first glance, gives it the look of an “N”. An “Aggressor Squadron” type scheme in 1944!
    Any “blackish” scheme is hard to pull off realisticly — you have! Nice work..

  4. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Reblogged this on My Forgotten Hobby II and commented:
    Intermission – P-47 M Thunderbolt

  5. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Just wanted to say hello from Quebec, Canada…
    I am now using my 30 year-old Badger 350 airbrush.

    • atcDave says:

      Hey great to hear that! Enough of brush painting?
      Not to jinx anything, but I expect to have a B-29 up in a couple weeks. It’s finally, nearly, done.

      • Pierre Lagacé says:

        I love brush painting Dave, but I know I will enjoy experimenting with my airbrush. About the B-29… what scale and which manufacturer?

      • atcDave says:

        The Monogram B-29 in 1/48.
        It’s a huge, demon-spawn piece of… well, something that’s almost as done as it’s going to get. Not a favorite…

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