Growing up in Tallahassee, FL, I built quite a few models. It was the late 70’s/early 80’s, and I spent many hours in my little workshop in our carport painting, gluing and building. And most of what I built had the name “Monogram” up the box.
I had a friend up the street who built models too. And his favorite label was Revell. Somehow we got a bit of a rivalry going about which maker was better. It was friendly enough, but we were seriously committed to our repsective brands.
And no matter how much he tried to convince me otherwise, I always thought Monogram was King of the Models.
More than a few years have passed since then- I now have a son in college, in fact- and now that I’ve re-entered the hobby after a 20-plus year break, I’ve found there are many makers out there that run circles around Monogram in terms of detail, molding, and such things. Still- the fondness I have for Monogram has simply never gone away or diminished. Even though those old kits now have Revell slapped on them.
So when I saw a Monogram P-47D at the Atlanta IPMS show in June for $5- I didn’t hesitate to grab Mr. Lincoln’s bill from my pocket and swap it for that wonderful Monogram plastic.
The kit was exactly as I’d remembered it. I was amazed how the sprues and parts felt so familiar in my hands. Though I can rarely remember what I even had for breakfast, I could practically do an entire inventory just by glance. It just felt good to hold the parts in my hand, and fondly remember those days so many years ago building the kit.
Thankfully, I have grown in my modeling skills since those days, and one of the first things I decided to do was get rid of the raised panel lines and rescribe some new recessed ones. I actually don’t have any particular beef with raised panel lines. I think too many modelers miss out on a great build experience simply because they won’t touch a kit that has them. To each his own I guess. Still, the practical, budget conscious modeler in me doesn’t overlook the fact that Revell/Monogram kits often cost one-quarter what their more modern, well-engineered (over-engineered?) brethren cost.
Anyway…. where was I? Scribing panel lines. I spent a few hours scribing the lines. I personally like panel lines to be a bit deeper than most people seem to prefer. Since I like a dark panel wash, having lines that are a little more prominent makes that a little easier to do. You can see a more detailed description of how I rescribe panel lines in a previous article I wrote, working on this P-47.
Once I completed the rescribe job, I moved on to painting the interior. Most of the references I’ve seen show the cockpit of the P-47 was a darker green, and the wheel wells were a zinc chromate yellow. I chose a…. well, dark green from Pollyscale, for the interior. I’m not sure exactly what color, because Testors, maker of Pollyscale, prints the identifying information on the Pollyscale labels with a specially formulated ink that rubs off the instant you bring the bottle home. I’ve since started adding a small strip of clear tape to the labels to preserve the printing. So anyway…. throwing accuracy out the window…. the cockpit was painted a dark green. I think it was US Meduim Green.
The cockpit itself is fairly basic- a simple “tub”, with seat already molded in. The casting, by today’s standards, is a bit simplistic. Still, given how little you can see in a cockpit once a kit is complete, it’s reasonable enough. The instrument panel is typical of Monogram kits- very defined raised detail that makes drybrushing very simple. And the belts were already cast into the seat- a feature I actually like. Sure, PE belts look awesome, but it sure is simple to just paint them right on the seat. A wash with ModelersWarehouse.com Warpigs Washes drew the detail out nicely.
Closing the cockpit inside the fuselage, I spent a little bit of time smoothing out the seams. The gaps were not bad, but it did take some filling and sanding to get things smoothed out.
The wings fit together well, and the fit to the fuselage was not too bad. With some test fitting and sanding, the gap that was left was small enough that some Mr. Surfacer 1000 closed things up nicely. After adding the horizontal stabilizers, and with a final sanding and surface prep, the model was ready for painting.
The kit came with markings for a NMF bird, but I’d seen some P-47s in SEAC colors, and thought I’d give that a shot. I couldn’t find any decals for that type of aircraft, but decided that with some generic roundels and fin flashes from the spares box, I could paint on the aircraft codes.
I started by painting some white where the wing and tail stripes would go, as well as the code letters. Once that was dry, I masked the stripes. For the code letters, I found a font online for RAF lettering. I printed out the codes I wanted in about the right size, and overlaying the paper over masking tape, I cut out the masks for the code letters. I applied those to the fuselage sides, and proceeded to the camo.
For camo colors, I used Pollyscale colors- Medium Sea Gray for the undersides, and Dark Earth/Dark Green for the uppers. I stole a page from Greg Cooper’s playbook, starting first with a darkened shade of the base color for each of the respective colors, then filling in panels with a lightened shade. Finally, a highly thinned, semi-transparent layer of the base color blended everything together.
What I love about this method is you end up with a very randomly shaded, rather beat-up looking paint job that is not overdone looking. It’s also very easy to do multi-color camo jobs this way. When you finish one layer, you simply mask off one color, and add the next one on top.
It was a pretty exciting moment to pull the26 yards, give or take, of blue masking tape off. it all came out just like I wanted. The lettering came out good, the stripes worked, the camo was just like I’d hoped for, and there were only a coupleof small places that had some “bleed”. I was so happy with it, in fact, that I contemplated stopping at that point, for fear that further work would mess things up. 🙂
Having decided to press on, I adding some chipping with a silver pencil, then a coat of Future was airbrushed on. The decals were simple- six roundels, a fin flash, and an aircraft serial number from the spares box. Another quick coat of Future sealed that in. Again, using the Warpigs Washes, I ran a wash through the panel lines, and added some Tamiya smoke for some exhaust staining.
I added the final bits- landing gear, propellor, and tail wheel. The gun barrels had been molded on the wings, but due to their thickness, seam lines and simply being in the way, I’d cut them off and drilled holes where they were. I added some .020 plastic rod to get those back in place.
Finally, a coat of Pollyscale flat, and removing the canopy masks, and it was finished!
I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s certainly not rivet counter proof- the panel lines depth would drive some folks crazy. And I’m sure the accuracy of colors and markings are doubtful.
But I say phooey! Who cares? I had a ton of fun with this kit, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. More and more I’m finding that building kits in the same spirit I did as a kid- to have fun- but applying the skills and techniques I’ve learned as an adult is the right mix for me. It’s about the fun, first and foremost.
And every time I build an old Monogram kit, I enjoy it. A lot.
So much so, I’m eyeballing the stash for the next build. For some reason, I keep eyeballing those boxes that have “Monogram” printed on the side…..