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Built for a hero: Tamiya’s 1/48 P-47D

A few weeks ago, Parker Ewing posted this on the forums, asking for prayer to guide his hands in a build that was a unique opportunity:

I’ve been given the opportunity to build for a WWII vet. His name is Elmer Kovacs, and he flew P-47’s in Europe, claiming one FW-190. I got to spend time with him, which was a blast. Mr. Kovacs is 86 years old and sharp as a tack. He told some awesome stories. I was taking notes about his aircraft and he said he was embarrassed he had only one victory, so he had no “kill marks” painted on his aircraft.

Anyway… church has been emphasizing “getting off our island of isolation” and build bridges in the community so I’m doubly fired up.

Last week, Parker send this update and some great pics of his completed build for Mr. Kovacs. God bless you Parker for your generosity and work to honor this hero!

What you’re looking at is the business end of my prayer requests a few weeks ago. I was given the opportunity to build this fighter for the man who flew it. His name is Alex Kovacs and he flew this P-47 when he shot down a FW-190 on August 19th, 1944 on a bombing mission. Meeting him was a great experience. 86 years young, He got out of his car with his 365th Fighter Group jacket and told me all about his four missions over Normandy on D-day, plus other great stories. While we were driving, he took me to our local airport and showed me an FW-190 that’s being restored to original condition. What a day. Driving around with a P-47 pilot looking at Focke Wulfs….it gets no better than that.

Well, I promised him I’d build his aircraft so I took notes on his descriptions and set to work. I chose the Tamiya 48th scale over the big Trumpeter kit because I worried the rivets would look odd to him. Further, he had mentioned he wanted to take it around and show people, so the 48th scale one would be easy to carry.

I’ve built this kit 4 or 5 times, so I wasn’t too enthused about the build, and I was on a bit of a modelling break, but opportunities like this are few and far between, so I worked through it. With three small boys and a SWMBO, long modelling sessions are rare, but God blessed me with a family-at-her-mom’s-and-out-of-the-house bachelor night. I fired up LSU’s baseball game on the radio, broke out the vanilla wafers, and I was in heaven. In a record setting frenetic session for me, I built, painted and weathered the cockpit and landing gears/bays, got the cockpit installed, and the fuselage glued and seamed up. The build was straight forward until I got to the painting. Mr. Kovacs knew exactly what his a/c codes were and I could tell they were important to him.

I painted the letter codes on the side using masks, but the serial numbers were more problematic. I sifted through spare decal sheets and cut out the numbers individually. I didn’t have a 5, so I used a 6 and carefully painted it…turning it into a 5! It turned out great. I kid you not when I tell you the Lord inspired that solution. He’s awesome. (Amen…. :). Ed.)

Anyway, the hardest part of the build was not weathering it. Mr. Kovacs told me emphatically his plane was clean…and I’m a serial weatherer. I did a light oil wash and some minor dusting, but more than once I had to literally walk away before I went too far. I am weak, and weathering is strong. He never put a kill marking on his plane because he said he was embarrassed for only having one, but I told him he’s waited long enough and I should add it. He agreed…so 65 years later, he got his victory flag. By the way, the pic showing the tank dragging the ground was actually the paper the plane was sitting on rising upwards. I’m not that bad!

To see “the rest of the story”, also see “Built for a hero, pt. II“.

My name is Parker Ewing, and I’m 39 years old and blessed with a wonderful wife and three wild little boys. I became a Christian at 21 but didn’t discover modeling until around seven or years ago. For me, the hobby is the perfect storm of history, patience and skill. My biggest challenge is prioritizing modelling time and not going overboard with it. I’ll admit I’ve sat through a few sermons thinking about the seams on that B-17. That said, it keeps me home, occupied, and has even made me a little money. Any questions or advice is more than welcomed. I can be reached anytime