TF 1/8th Scale P-47 Build; Going For Detail - RC Groups
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Jan 15, 2012, 06:37 PM
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TF 1/8th Scale P-47 Build; Going For Detail

I've learned so much from the build logs on this forum and others, I decided to start my own. Hopefully the thread will give me motivation to keep this project moving along! This is my winter project, and I'm already well in to it. I spent a portion of the Xmas break mentally planning what I wanted to do, and have been assembling the materials. Actually started to cut and glue this weekend. The kit is the TF Gold edition, and will be powered by a Saito 100 4 stroke. I'm relatively new to RC, but am a fairly handy builder w/ a background in scale plastic models. This is my first RC warbird. My goal is a scale flying model w/ as much accurate detail as I can get. Truth be told...I think I'm the builder in the family, and my son is the flier!

Anyway, I've decided to model the P-47D "bubbletop" of 1LT Howard Barton. Barton flew in Italy w/ the 346th FS, and had one victory over a Reggia Aeronautica BF-109, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and numerous Air Medals. After the war he went home to Wisconsin and became a dentist. He also attended my Alma Mater, Marquette University.

"Sam" Barton also happens to be the Father of my wife's Uncle. He just celebrated his 90th Birthday over the holidays, and I was lucky enough to discuss his WWII career w/ him. The planes in this squadron had very standardized art work applied that is easier to recreate w/ paint and vinyl stencils, thus keeping the cost down. "Puddin-Head" will require a natural metal finish though, which will take some thought on my part.

Tail taking shape....really impressed w/ this kit. Very well thought out and cut. Very nice quality wood as well.

The tail is often glossed over in these threads, but along w/ the wing/landing gear, it is the most complex area from a scale perspective. Many things not "right" w/ it that will need correcting.
Last edited by LuftM40; Aug 18, 2013 at 06:18 AM.
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Jan 16, 2012, 09:50 AM
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After some careful assembly w/ CA, light sanding and advanced geometry calculations (), the horizontal stab sheeting ready to install. I've always hated sheeting w/ balsa, but the wood quality in this kit made it pretty painless. I sorted the balsa to put the best looking sheets on the exterior. As usual, the right tools make all the difference in the world. In this case I used an 18 inch steel ruler w/ a non slip cork backing from Michaels (indispensable), a Zona razor saw and a very sharp exacto w/ curved blade. The Zona saws are great. Their blades are sharp enough to use almost like an Exacto knife, but the handle gives you more control. Also can't say enough for the EZ-touch sanding bars. I had a few that I got free from my LHS incentive program, and this is the first time I've used them. The sheets are cut oversized, and I think I'll join the triangular halves at the center prior to installing. This will ensure a nice seam in the center. I know this won't be visible when the vertical tail assembly is installed, but I'm anal that way....

Also shown are the reinforcing blocks for the scale hinge assemblies. Still pondering how to best do this. The P-47 had rectangular hinge covers that protruded in to the control surfaces. I've noticed that some guys have installed small ply extensions on the TE to cover the gap. But looking at detailed pics of the P-47, this isn't completely accurate. The "jug" had more of a butt-type joint here. The tail hinge mechanics are difficult to recreate, and I need to play around w/ it a bit...
Jan 16, 2012, 04:22 PM
Grumpy Gorilla
Very interested in following this thread. I'm in the process of the same build, just starting to sheet the top of the wing today. Keep us posted on the progress
Jan 16, 2012, 10:11 PM
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Ms. Santa brought me the same kit for Christmas! I'm signed on for the build and taking notes.

Jan 19, 2012, 05:13 PM
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LuftM40's Avatar
Had a few hours to work on the tail today, and have also received the power plant (Saito 100). The sheeting pattern for the elevator skins is on the plans. Simply cut it out and trace on 1/16th balsa sheet. I cut most of the excess away w/ an exacto knife, but sanded the final curved shape. Ensure that you make tops and bottoms for TWO sides . I had to tinker with the elevator leading edge/rib join to get a good fit w/ the skin. Make sure the LE is square and parallel w/ the stab TE, and also ensure that the elevator skin will slope flatly and evenly back to the TE.

Also pictured is the small tool included in the kit to mark the sanding limits for the elevator TE (slick). Once marked, I put the skin on a flat hard surface and ran the EZ touch around the TE until the proper slope was achieved. The plans say each TE side should be ~1/ retrospect, I think this might be a bit thin and fragile...I shall see! These EZ touch sanding bars are the bomb! The best sanding tools I've ever used.

I love when people share tips, or tools. Here is my discovery. They are small scale woodworking gouges. Razor sharp, they cut through balsa and basswood like butter. Very handy for removing material in tight places, or cleaning up joints.

ALSO, if you intend to do scale hinge covers and cutouts, don't forget to add balsa reinforcing blocks at the appropriate places inside the elevator structures before applying the top sheeting
Last edited by LuftM40; Jan 19, 2012 at 05:20 PM.
Jan 21, 2012, 07:32 AM
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I thought these pics would be helpful to others building a P-47. The battle damaged "jug" (which somehow made it home) provides a unique profile view of the tail area. The color drawing also provides a good profile shot of the tail. Note the "bulge" on the bottom of the rudder is actually an extension of the fuselage profile. The upside down shot provides a view of the P-47 landing gear doors in the uncompressed position. The drawings show where all of the P-47 stencils go, and also gives a good plan view for panel lines etc.
Jan 21, 2012, 09:32 AM
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What about that whole "Zinc Chromate" Thing? Any scale WWII US project will eventually require the application of zinc chromate primer in cockpits, wheel wells etc. There has always been confusion about the exact color of zinc chromate primer...was it, green?...was it yellow?...or was it some other shade? The answer is all of the above! This link gives a great explanation of how primers were applied in the US aircraft industry during WWII:

Early P-47s typically had YELLOW zinc chromate applied to the inner surfaces, wheel wells, doors etc.

Because they were high use areas, cockpits were typically a much darker mixture of green primer. An almost forest or dark emerald green shade.
Last edited by LuftM40; Jan 21, 2012 at 12:19 PM.
Jan 21, 2012, 10:08 AM
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...of course we all strive for perfect assembly

But for those of us that make the occasional boo boo, I've found this stuff. I have a conspiracy theory that most products marketed to model builders can also be found in less sexy packaging at Home Depot or Lowes for half the price....anyway, this stuff matches the color of balsa almost perfectly, is quite sandable and is also water soluble. You can use it in paste form right out of the can, or thin it w/ water to make it more liquidy.
Jan 21, 2012, 11:36 AM
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The elevators are progressing along. This is the fun part! Carving the large balsa blocks to recreate the inner rounded portions of the elevator surfaces. It is VERY easy to become overzealous w/ this step. Once the blocks are glued in place, SLOWLY remove the material toward the TE to create the slope on each side of the elevator surface. Check constantly, and be careful not to remove too much. Also, be careful not to alter the top view outline of the elevator surface. You can always take more wood away, but can never put it back.

Here I'm using the small woodworking tools to rough out the shape. I think they work better than the balsa plane recommended in the plans, because I can see what I'm cutting and have more control. Rounding everything off w/ sand paper will be the last step.
Last edited by LuftM40; Jan 22, 2012 at 09:57 AM.
Jan 22, 2012, 09:47 AM
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Lower stabilizer and elevators coming along. All of the sheeting is on now. I used thick CA and weight bags filled w/ lead shot to apply the bottom skin on the stab. It worked great, and no pins required. All of the flat edges were trued up w/ the ez touch. The leading edge skins were sanded flat to the leading edge, then faired in using a piece of sand paper and the "shoe shin" method, ie holding the stab between your legs and pulling the sand paper back and forth on the leading edge to form an airfoil shape. I stopped 2/3 of the way through to reinforce the leading edges w/ thick CA. This is only my second wooden model. On the first, I screwed the leading edges up something fierce. I was able to fix it like new, but it really slowed me down. The method I used this time seemed to work well.


I am getting ready to order the Rx gear and retracts. I want the best possible scale appearance, plus reliability.

The Robart retracts seem to be a tried and true product, there are several threads detailing scale installation, and the kit was designed for them. The Robarts are an approximation of scale for the P-47, but far from accurate.

Century Jet offers a version that is right on the money scale-wise, but I have heard some not so good things about them and I'm also not sure if they can be installed in a scale position on the model, ie w/ 4 inch wheels, fully retractable and in the right location on the wing.

Any thoughts from those of you who have built one of these?
Last edited by LuftM40; Jan 22, 2012 at 11:44 AM.
Jan 22, 2012, 02:53 PM
Scale Builder
There are no retracts available for the P-47 in this scale that will accurately reproduce the retraction geometry of the full size airplane I'm afraid. My luck with CJM products has been less than stellar in the past and, until convinced that product quality has improved, I will continue to avoid them. Were it me I would probably choose a suitable Robart retract unit and then have custom struts made. Or, possibly, find a set of struts that are relatively close and have them modified for better scale appearance. However, due to the fact that the full size has a mechanism that collapses the oleo upon retraction, you will have to choose to make the gear struts shorter in order to fit the scale wheel wells or you will have to move the gear further outboard than scale in order to make them the scale length. (Or find some happy medium between the two!)
Jan 23, 2012, 07:23 AM
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I'm with Chad on the Century Jet retracts. I gave my last set away, as I wasn't happy with the quality, and didn't feel right about charging money for them.

I have a few sets of Robarts. No complaints, there.
Jan 24, 2012, 03:14 PM
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Tom/Chad...thanks. I'll go w/ the Robarts using the method for scale installation outlined in another thread
Jan 25, 2012, 12:53 PM
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I wonder if the Eflite electric retracts or the new Robart Electrics would work. That's what I'm tending towards once I start on my plane. I've got to get the workbench completed first. Perhaps you would care to expirement for us all?

Jan 25, 2012, 07:01 PM
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al, funny you should say that...I was just at the hobby shop today looking at the eflite electrics. The new Robarts are interesting too. The problem is that I have the instructions and patterns for a scale install of the Robart pneumatics, and I'm not sure it would be the same w/ the electric version. Electric would be a whole lot easier to work w/ though.

I had laser eye surgery a few days ago, so haven't been in the shop much. I did receive the aftermarket cowling from Fiberglass Specialties. Nicely made product, and all one piece, although not much more detailed than the version in the kit. It will definitely save a few steps in construction and seems a bit lighter.

Also did some gluing and rough shaping on the horizontal stab tips, per the kit instructions. Elevators tack glued in place, and the end blocks glued on both the stab and elevator tips w/ CA. BE CAREFUL here, I almost screwed this up. At first glance, the rounded balsa blocks for the two tips appear symmetrical. They are NOT. They have to be installed correctly to get the shape right. Check the blocks against the outline on the plans before gluing. As with the elevators, I rough shaped the blocks w/ the woodworking tools and will finish w/ sanding.
Last edited by LuftM40; Jan 26, 2012 at 11:43 AM.

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