Kagero’s 17th title in the series but the first time I have opened the cover on one of their volumes. Written in both Polish and English, including the photo captions. The English is very well translated with none of the quirky sentences that you sometimes find in these multi-lingual books. Or is it translated into Polish? Included in the price is a sheet of decals in both 1/72 and 1/48 scales, more about them later.
The story of the Thunderbolt is begun with an account of how rugged an aircraft the P-47 was by recounting an incident, which occurred on the 26th June 1943. Involving Lt. Robert S. Johnson, a pilot with the 61st Fighter Squadron who brought back a battered Thunderbolt from an escort mission, over France. I’ll quote from the final paragraph to give you the flavour of the encounter:
“With his face covered in blood and hydraulic fluid, he patiently waited for the ambulance as it rushed across the airfield towards him. Before the medics could rush him off to the sickbay, he was able to count 21 large holes torn by cannon shells in his aircraft; the holes made by machine gun bullets were so numerous he lost count after reaching one hundred. One of the bullets had shot his wristwatch off; two others had gone clean through his right thigh. Nevertheless, the rugged Thunderbolt had brought him home, and most probably saved his life.”
The narrative continues with the development of the “Jug”, from the issue of the initial specification and Alexander Kartveli’s project for an aircraft designated AP-10. An Allison water-cooled inline engine powered this prototype. Through the development of the massive aircraft, with radial engine, that we know and love as the Thunderbolt. The development stops at the P-47-D-23 (essentially the “razor back” versions), I guess Vol. 2 will carry on from there, doing the “Bubble tops”.
P-47 Thunderbolt in combat – Europe 1943-1945.The majority of this book is taken up with accounts of the “Jugs” combat record during 1943-1945. This is very well done, beginning with the formation of the various Fighter Squadrons (FS), giving their individual codes (very useful). When combat is joined the narrative gives you a real sense of what it was like for the pilots involved. Whether they were already combat hardened or new to the game of kill or be killed. There are plenty of first hand accounts from the pilots involved, usually taken from their own biographies/autobiographies, reference to which are given as notes. Included are details of victories, on both sides, giving Pilots, where possible, and units. It is a great read and highly recommended.
Scale Drawings and Profiles
Throughout the first two parts of the book are plenty of photographs of Thunderbolts. All very interesting and some, according to the authors, never published before. Any photograph is useful to the modeller but there are no real “walk-around” type detail shots. There are quite a few showing pilots with their aircraft, which, in most cases, show the nose art as well. There are also quite a few pictures of damaged Thunderbolts, which will be good for you modellers who like to show battle damage on your models.
The chapter ends with a Bibliography, including some Internet sites, which I will list here:
1. “Little Friends”: www.littlefriends.co.uk
2. “Aces of the Luftwaffe”: www.luftwaffe.cz
3. “Web-Birds.com”: www.web-birds.com
4. “American Aces of WWII”: www.acepilots.com
5. 4 Fighter Group: www.fourthfightergroup.com
6. 78 Fighter Group: www.78thfightergroup.com
7. 352 Fighter Group: www.352ndfightergroup.com
8. 353 Fighter Group: www.worldwar2pilots.com/01skybirdhomepagenew.htm
Scale Drawings and Profiles
We now get to what, some, might consider worth the cover price alone, scale drawings. If you like scale drawings you will love these, as they are particularly well done. Not only that but included are scale drawings of “things under wings”, bombs; rockets; cluster bombs and drop tanks. There is even an instrument panel. The aircraft are drawn to 1/48 scale while the ordnance is to 1/24th. Following on from these are more 1/72 scale drawings showing the development of the P-47, by highlighting the changes through the series. Very well done and very useful if you are doing a conversion. These development drawings go as far as the P-47D-40 “bubble Top”.
The volume finishes with 3 pages of full colour profiles, 2 pages of 2 aircraft showing port and starboard profiles and top views. There are 3 more pages, including the back cover with large full colour side profiles. The final page has 2 and the inside back cover 3 colour photographs of T-Bolts. One of the 2 is a close up of Maj. Francis “Gabby” Gabreski of the 61st FS/56th FG (one of the greatest exponents of the type), in the cockpit of his P47D-11-RE, HV-A. The profile of which can be found on the inside front cover along with HV-V, in similar markings but with an Indian chief’s head on the cowling. This is the subject of Tamiya’s “Razor Back”
A very nice and welcome touch is the inclusion of a sheet of decals, in both 1/72 and 1/48 scales. They are not the most inspiring of markings but they are for machines whose profiles are included in the book. However if you want a subject that probably isn’t included on any other sheet then these are great. The bonus is that the sheet includes serial numbers, 4 of each number (1-0) in both black and yellow, of the stencil verity, very useful. The sheet does not include national insignia and is printed by Techmod. I’ve never used their decals but they are thin and in perfect register. For free decals what more could you ask.
I have passed up books in this series in the past because when, flicking through the pages, I haven’t been enticed by drawings of interiors and systems. This is what I usually like to see in a monograph. Although this book and, I assume, others in the series, don’t have these types of drawings, the content is worth the asking price and is very well presented. Recommended.
Thank you to MMD-Squadron for kindly supplying the review sample.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on ARMORAMA