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My 1/12 scale P-47 thunderbolt


Junior Member
I was prompted to post my own work (by someone on youtube!)that has been sitting around for 2 or 3 years at this point. it's, as the title implies, a 1/12 scale p-47 thunderbolt made from balsa wood. this was very much a learning experience for me because i have never done any kind of serious model building but this project ended up getting me into this kind of thing.
this was all very slow, working almost completely blind with little to no help and zero experience cutting out, sanding, and re doing every piece by hand with an exacto knife and sand paper.
I did end up picking up some tricks that i scraped from the few youtube videos i could find on just general balsa construction like pinning stuff to a cutting surface, but the schematics were way too big for the table i was using, also these plans are pretty old and were already beginning to rip by the time i got them.
Here's the wings starting to come together in a test fit to give myself a boost to keep going, at this point things really started to look like something that resembled an airplane. Around this time I started to get excited because it starts to set in that I got this box of just flat wood from my grandpa's estate and now it's this three dimensional real thing that I've built with my own wits and hands.
this is where it really starts to come together and i have to make a few tough choices on my build, i couldnt figure out how to get the landing gear to attach to the wings, i had to figure out how to get the control surfaces to at least move and most importantly i had to decide if i wanted to attempt actual controls or inner workings the model isnt actually RC but its much older and cheaper brother, control liner! so it came with a few bent control wires and bushings but no real instructions on how to set it up or how it worked (there's a real trend here about how uninformed i was and how vague the instructions were) so i opted to not attempt the workings and leave out the landing gear, though i did mount a laughably small engine and equally hilarious prop that was also found.
This is where i left my plane for a very long time, maybe close to a year. I thought it looked pretty cool and it really showcased the effort and time i put into making it. also I was very unsure of how i was going to cover or skin it (not sure about that phrasing).
But eventually i decided on a plan of action and after a few stops at the Hobby lobby i had what i needed and just started slapping this thing together again. One piece at a time.
Different strategy from the wings to the the fuselage. big thin sheets for the wings and lots of thick planks for the body, pretty simple. lots of glue and sanding on the nose here ended up making it look almost like a basket ball court.
Fast forward about a month and voila! this is what it looked like when i was done adding some elmer's wood filler into some of the gaps and going through several sheets of coarse to fine grit sand paper to get it smooth. So at this point the thing is probably too heavy to really fly even if i had done the guts up correctly. But that's more or less where it sits to this day, only i added a few layers of acrylic paint, some grey to prime and then olive drab. still no canopy, the instructions were extremely breif in how to shape this out of the tiny piece of clear plastic that it came with and the one attmept i had with doing it was a failure. Also I never was able to find a prop that was the correct size, but i have intentions of maybe carving my own but its a very complex set of curves!
There's a lot I would do differently about this if i were to do it again, for example if you look at this from the tail you can easily tell the tail isn't straight on any kind of axis, the ailerons don't make any sense they're only on one side of the wing (that's how they work right?) The canopy/ cockpit that the schematics call for are from a very early model of the p-47, i would have rather done a bubble canopy. Alas the thing is a labor of love.
There it is as it sits currently as of 5/14/15 snapped the tail off as i was picking it up to take a pic, so that's new. nothing glue wont fix though!
there's also a time-lapse of most the build on youtube somewhere, i'm not going to post a link because this is my first post, and i'm not sure if posting links to other sites is cool or not but if you search long enough you might find it!
Good for you for digging into a vintage kit and making something to be proud of forever. I'm a balsa newbie also and I have found that in most cases, there is a bunch of building instruction that is left implied or assumed by the manufacturer about the builder, both in old kits and in modern kits made in China. But I also find the "figuring it out" to be great mental exercise and the actual building to be fulfilling and challenging at the same time. My first balsa project was a vintage rubber powered free flight kit but I'm going to keep it as a static display based upon the errors I made the first time around but I have 3 more old kits on my shelf that when I get to them will be electric powered.

But, good on ya! You did good!