Kagero | Republic P-47 Thunderbolt Vol. 1

Reviewed by Matt Gannon

Monograph Series No 17 Author: Tomasz Szlagor and Krzysztof Janowicz
ISBN : 83-89088-67-3


With the imminent release of a new tool P-47 Thunderbolt ('Jug') in 1/32 it seems sensible to check some of the reference sources available out there and report back. This book is only one of four released by Kagero on this mighty plane. After reading all four books and beginning to understand how everything about the 'Jug' was huge I can see why four volumes were required.

The first in this series of four books, Monograph Number 17 is introduced by the authors. They clearly state their intention to allow readers to 're-discover the rugged Thunder Monster'. In many ways the book is planned to present more than just information pertinent to modelers for detailing kits and researching data. It's also meant to be a window into the world that witnessed and flew the Thunderbolt. This little section of text is likely to be missed but it's a perfect summary to explain the structure of this series of books.

Kagero books excel at captivating the reader from the beginning. The opening paragraphs of this book are no exception. It describes the hapless fate of an American pilot being bounced by a Fw 190. The P-47's legendary ruggedness is evident when the Fw 190 pilot after plugging the P-47 full of 20mm and MG bullets saunters up level with the P-47, shakes his head in disbelief at why it could still be flying, rocks the wings and goes home empty handed. It's a great reading story and soon has you wanting to read more about this amazing plane. At the very least it helps you understand the passion some of your friends may have with this plane. :)

Following this, the reader is immersed in the complexity that is the genesis and various models of P-47. The information is quite detailed from the aircraft designated AP-10 right through to model P-47-D-23. I found though, that there is such a myriad of variants and sub-variants that it becomes quite confusing. It doesn't help that during the period of construction, the different manufacturing plants in the USA applied their own alternative designations to what was sometimes essentially the same variant of plane. I personally think that the complexity of the information would have been more effectively communicated with the aid of some diagrams. This would be a departure from the format that Kagero use. Even though all of the information seems to be there, I think it would have been something relatively simple to have helped digest the text. Especially, if you're just beginning to get to know the P-47.

Alternatively, even though I'm jumping ahead, it's worth noting the last few excellent pages of line drawings in the book. They authors have used clever shading on the modified parts draw the readers attention to external differences in the various models and sub-variants of P-47s. Perhaps the authors could have augmented these line drawings with a list of internal modifications specific to each type of P-47 to aid clarity to the text at the beginning of the book.

Following this section one is drawn into the ETO combat world of the P-47. The narrative covers the period of combat from 1942 -1945 and focuses essentially on air-air combat. It describes the build up of various units, the charismatic leaders and various enemy actions. It does this particularly well with a mix of descriptions of events from both a personal and historical perspective.

The personal perspectives are offered by both allied and Luftwaffe pilots alike. Sometimes in the form of combat action reports and often in the form of a third person. The third person perspective is like someone was circling over Europe watching individual events across the continent unfold and putting them into a cohesive picture. Interspersed throughout are also paragraphs which describe various WWII events, how they were unfolding and affected the use of the Thunderbolts. These little paragraphs really help position and contextualize the tactical efforts of both adversaries. Throughout the narrative, one begins to understand why the P-47 was so well respected by its adversaries and so generally loved by its pilots.

In this volume there isn't a wide range of walkaround type shots applicable to superdetailing. However, there are plenty of amazing black and white photos. Many details of the P-47 are clearly visible, as well as close-up shots of battle damage. This is perfect for modelers should anyone wish to replicate this kind of detail. Some of the pictures would allow simply superb detail for a modeler to make the most amazing dioramas.

Following the main narrative the book has 24 sheets of simply amazing line drawings. For those interested in the P-47 from model XP-47 through to P-47 D-40 you'll love those pages. The line drawings vary in scale from 1/48 profiles with fuselage cross-sections, top, rear, and belly views. Amongst the 1/48 line drawings are interspersed 1/24 scale drawings of ordnance, external racks, B version instrument panel. Lots of great reference material for any modeler.

The last pages of the book are made of six pages of colour profiles and some great colour photos. The colour profiles are great. Hopefully it may be the basis of some fantastic alternative schemes if the Redux Razorback ever hits the shelves or someone wants to backdate one of the new releases. Whilst the colour photos at the back of the book are nice I'm not sure if they will hold more than interest value. The variations in colour that are possible with reproduction in both film and printing would lead to me to counsel care in relying on them as absolute fact.

Included in the book are some lovely Techmod printed decals. They are scanned here for you to peruse but unfortunately only printed in1/72 and 1/48.

Overall, the book presented is a fine read. Many of the combat accounts sparked my enthusiasm to read the other three volumes as quickly as possible. There certainly is plenty of information that will greatly assist any T-Bolt model builder or give those with an interest in aviation history a great and entertaining read. The line drawings supplied are simply outstanding. Those with the penchant and ability to scratch-build, will obtain some great info to allow them to depart from the typical ordnance loads manufactures supply. There is something for everybody in this book so I'm sure you won't be disappointed if you purchase a copy.

Many thanks to Ian McPherson of Janterpol books for the chance to review this sample.


© Matt Gannon

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This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016