Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

Fighters all over England, even from the strategic Eighth Air Force were prepared to do close support work for the period just before, during and after D-Day.


Join me for a look at one such escort fighter all dressed up for earth moving.

The P-47 Thunderbolt was first designed as a high altitude interceptor.  The apparent bulk is a combination of a huge R-2800 radial engine and a sophisticated high altitude supercharger in the lower fuselage. That combined with a good overall design meant the Thunderbolt was fast and powerful, and especially capable at altitude.


This is a two name plane; “Stalag Luft III” on the nose and “Button Nose” closer to the cockpit. This is not uncommon as a single plane may pass through several pilots, or carry one name for its regular pilot and another for its crew chief.


The large patches of Olive Drab are where the top side invasion stripes have been painted over.

Early versions were less capable at low altitude, but a new “paddle blade” propeller and water injection (to improve engine cooling) corrected much of this deficiency and later model Thunderbolts would be even better known for their close support work.  So after D-Day the type would be best known as a terror to German ground forces.

image image

War time color photo of the subject aircraft.

But the well known 56th Fighter Group only did close support missions as part-time work. This example is the Tamiya kit with Aeromaster decals.  This plane was delivered in natural metal, but it had a British style disruptive scheme applied during the run up to D-Day.  The black and white invasion stripes where meant as a visual aid, mainly to anti-aircraft gunners to reduce friendly fire accidents.  Two weeks after the invasion they were ordered removed from upper surfaces, and result we see here is just Olive Drab painted over the upper stripes.  This plane’s name “Stalag Luft III, I wanted wings…” is odd, and fortunately the pilot, Lt Albert Knafelz never experienced the suggested outcome.


I like how this angle really shows the plane’s bulk. A well known nickname for the P-47 was “Jug”, which interestingly has different origins depending on who you ask. Most American crew will tell you the plane looked like a milk jug. But the British always claim it is short for “Juggernaut”. Which of course, just sounds awesome…


The progression of Thunderbolts. The early P-47D at left has a skinny propeller; the mid-production P-47D in the middle has a “paddle blade” propeller and other internal improvements; and the P-47M at right has a bubble canopy and lots of extra power!



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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16 Responses to Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

  1. Pierre Lagacé says:

    I hope you won’t mind the reblog…

  2. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Reblogged this on My Forgotten Hobby and commented:
    Another gem

  3. A fabulous model there and an awesome aircraft.

  4. Terrific build Dave. That scheme is truly outstanding, you have really captured the true essence of the iconic ‘Jug’. All I can say is ‘Wow!’. Great work.

  5. jfwknifton says:

    A beautiful job!! Well done!!

  6. Haha! A burden that I must bear Dave!

  7. Scott says:

    so did you do the camo pattern on the wing first, then black & white invasion stripes, then the OD over top?

    • atcDave says:

      It’s been a while! If I were to do it now, I would do exactly as you suggest. Layer things up just like the real bird.
      But looking at these pictures, I’m not sure I actually did the stripes on the top surface. The OD looks too tidy, and I see no trace of the stripes underneath.

      • Scott says:

        Thanks! I’m an irredeemable jughead, and have been building up to a Gabreski scheme. I think I have a set of Kits World decals for Stalg Luft III in addition to the Gabreski set somewhere. It seems like an intimidating pattern. Kind of a PITA, TBH.

      • atcDave says:

        Yes it is! I used a lot of Blu-Tac on this. I think this is one of the more complicated schemes I’ve done that actually came out okay.
        I also plan on doing Gabreski’s last T-Bolt. I seem to recall him saying his camo was applied “Luftwaffe style”, I’ll have to do some more research when the time comes to figure out what exactly that means!
        I may do one of his earlier planes too, that should be easier.

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