Mike's P-47D Thunderbolt 48" - RC Groups
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Jan 16, 2009, 03:05 PM
Mike Brinker
tr6world's Avatar
Build Log

Mike's P-47D Thunderbolt 48"

Here it is......

This is my best flying Aircraft! The picture here is after about 25 flights. The amazing thing is that this 2.5 pound plane flies amazingly smooth and on rails. I compare this plane to my others by saying this is a Cadillac compared to my other planes that are Pinto's. I LOVE THIS PLANE!

The Build
This build log will provide a lot of pictures and detail of the building process, techniques & methods. It will be presented by a novice builder so that both beginners & experienced modelers can understand and follow along.

Cheat Index:
For those who want the short story, I have began to compile quick links for this build log. Here are the highlights:

Hotwire Foam
The Keel
The Fuselage
Foam Sanding Techniques
The Firewall
The Tail Section
Making The Cowl
Wing Saddle
My Mentors Projects
Foam Wing Cores Cut
Top Hatch Cut
Vaccum Forming The Canopy
Wing Sheeting
Aileron & Wing Tips
Wing Fitting & The Fuselage
Fiberglas The Fuselage
Sanding & Priming
Covering with Ducolam
Putting It All Together! Paint
Maiden Flight Video
Slow Fly-By's Video & flight report
Free Rough Drawings Made Available
Open Canopy Installed
Good Video - Morning Sortie

The Aircraft:
The P-47 Thunderbolt was considered by many to be the most significant fighter aircraft of World War II. Built in greater quantities than any other US fighter, the P-47 was the heaviest single-engine WWII fighter to go into production and the first piston-powered fighter to exceed 500 mph. The multi-roll fighter was twice the weight of other WWII fighters of that era. Not only was it big, but it was lethal. With 8 wing mounted .50 caliber machine guns that could deliver 13 Lbs of lead each second the pilots finger was on the trigger, the Thunderbolt was a force to be reckoned. It had self-sealing fuel tanks and was the first to drop napalm bombs and the first to fire 5' rockets from the wings (according to aviation-history.com) When loaded with armor-piercing incendiary (API) rounds the .50 caliber did considerable damage to light armored vehicles, trains, and aircraft. Seven of the top 10 European Aces flew the P-47 Thunderbolt against the Luftwaffe. Thunderbolt’s knocked 3,752 enemy aircraft out of the air while destroying another 2,800+ on the ground. This aircraft was capable of taking direct enemy hits and still flying. The heavily armored plane sustained 824 combat losses, only .07% of the Jugs didn't return from a combat mission, the lowest total of any Allied fighter.

About my RC Plane/Modeling experience:
I have flown RC planes on and off for the past 20 years. I have built 3 or 4 kit planes over the years....
1. Carl Goldberg Eaglet 50 with a .25 k & B motor - My trainer plane that got me going into this hobby 20 years ago.
2. Generic P-51 stick & monokote plane (.25 - .40 motor). Of course I opted for the .40 motor and learned quickly that I was not good enough as a builder and pilot. Plane flew for all of 20 seconds before it became a flying lawn dart.
3. Carl Goldbert Piper Cub - slow flyer, semi-scale plane that was (and still is) a blast to fly. I converted this to electric power last april.
4. Stearman Bi-Plane - I don't even remember who made this kit but it was crap and I never finished it.

left the hobby and now I am back.
I have built flown several RTF foamies including the multiplex easy-star, multiplex twinstar, e-flite p-47, e-flite Corsair.

I am writing all the stuff about me because I consider myself a complete novice when it comes to scratch building and it is my hope that my perspective of this process will help encourage other "lurkers" to this forum to consider giving it a go. Whatever happens here, go easy on me guys. Not only am I a novice but I am not very creative or mechanically inclined.....

I plan to build this plane with the help of a experienced model builder. I will be using drawings made from 3 views. The size of the Thunderbolt will be a little smaller than 1/10th Scale. It will not be an exact scale replica, but a fun scale flyer. I have not figured out the color scheme or many of the little details, but will keep you posted.

Wingspan will be around 48" and fly on a Rimfire 42-40-800 Outrunner Brushless Motor. The Model should weigh in around 2.5 pounds. The plane will be foam & balsa.

More to follow.

Last edited by tr6world; Dec 09, 2009 at 05:18 PM. Reason: Updating Cheat Index
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Jan 17, 2009, 12:22 AM
Mike Brinker
tr6world's Avatar
I have included an image of a possible color scheme I am considering. I like the look of a unfinished p-47, but I think that might be to much work for my first project.

The templates for the fuselage were cut from the drawings and glued onto some very heavy card stock. I actually used Office Depot Brand Recycled Press board Report Binders as my card stock. It is heavy and will hold up to the hotwire and will not collapse, rather, keep its shape while cutting the foam. The templates were then cut and are ready to use.

The novice modelers, the templates shown here will be used to create pieces of the body. If we were using balsa or ply to make our fuselage, these would be called "formers" and in the plans, drawings or kit you would build from, the formers would make the skeleton of the body of the plane and then you would use wood or covering material to create the skin of the plane.

Many times, these "formers" are labeled by letters or numbers..... sometimes both.... for example, F1, F2, F3, etc.. The templates were are using are labeled using letters.... the front of the fuselage begins with the letter "A" and the last ends with "N".

To make the first piece of the fuselage, we would use template "A" on one side and "B" on the other. The material between these templates would be cut and that section would be done.
Last edited by tr6world; Feb 12, 2009 at 08:21 PM.
Jan 17, 2009, 11:17 AM
If it flies, I crash it!
dlazarus6660's Avatar

TWO Please?


Make two....I want one!

Jan 17, 2009, 01:01 PM
Mike Brinker
tr6world's Avatar

Hotwire Time (Cutting the Foam)

The Thunderbolt is my favorite WWII fighter. If this project works out (which I hope it will), I may be making another. Based on my piloting skills, I may be making another anyway! Honestly, If I crash, and it isn't to serious, I could simply use the templates I have to repair the damaged areas. Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part......

I have read many projects here in the scale area and some of the techniques used were not completely explained. I am sure this is because I have not built a plane from plans like this. I have not worked with foam (other than repairing my foam ARF planes. So, I figured that I would take the extra time to explain what some of the techniques are that will be used for this project. I will try and explain them as used during the building of this p-47.

The Foam
There is a lot of cutting to do. Just the main fuselage has 17 sections for each fuselage half. So, 34 parts to form the fuselage not including the stabilizer or elevator sections of the tail.

My P-47 will be using "pink" foam that is commonly used to insulate walls. Home Depot sells foam sheathing F150 Board 2 In. x 48 In. x 96 In. Model 270895. Is cost about $30 per sheet, but you could easily make two or more planes with this amount of foam.

Foam Cutting With A Hotwire
Trying to cut foam with a blade or saw is possible, but will be time consuming and messy. The hotwire technique makes for quick and clean process. The quality of the cut ( with practice ) is remarkable. A hotwire cutter is basically a wood handled tool with a wire stretched out like a cheese cutter or bow & arrow type shape. The wire is attached to a power source and the power is regulated with a transformer and dimmer dial so you can control the temperature of the wire. Yep, the electricity heats up the wire enough that you can slide the wire along the template and cut through the foam like a hot knife through butter. Here is a link to a great article on how to make your own hotwire device for around $30. Make Your Own Hotwire

Be sure to keep in mind that the design of your cutting tool should allow foam blocks to be manipulated around the wire. If the frame of the hotwire tool is to close to the wire, it might be difficult to move the foam around as you cut. The hotwire I used was placed in a vice so I could cut the foam as if I was standing at a large jigsaw table.

First Cut
I have 15 different templates labeled "A" through "N". I have 2 "E" templates. The nose section starts with template "A" and "B". I pin "A" to one side of the foam and "B" to the other. If these are laid out properly, you should be able to make a left side of the fuselage, then re-position the template 180 degrees and cut a right side of the fuselage. See the picture below:
Last edited by tr6world; May 12, 2011 at 09:47 PM.
Jan 17, 2009, 01:18 PM
Gravity sucks.
mrittinger's Avatar
Hey Mike, nice job on the thread Very good explanations for the beginner modeller to follow.
Jan 17, 2009, 04:12 PM
Res Ipsa Aviatur
Longhorne's Avatar
I'm signing on, Mike. I'm a big fan of the razorback.

Jan 17, 2009, 04:44 PM
Mike Brinker
tr6world's Avatar

Early glimpses of the fuselage

Thanks Mark, Paul & Daniel. It seems like all of the p-47's that are out there were either smaller 30-40 inch wingspan or larger 60+ sizes and much heavier. They go from parkflyer size to 5 pound + planes. This will be small enough to fit in a trunk and still be a light build. I know it will turn out nice since my mentor for this project is Mark Rittinger. Mark has built lot of super warbirds and his building style is to have a realistic scale looking plane with simplified building techniques.

I forgot to mention that when cutting the foam for the fuselage, it is critical to make sure one side of the foam square has a good 90 degree side. The ends of the template will need clean square ends when they are mated with the other matching side.

With about 6 sections cut for each side (right and left), we taped them together to have a look at fit and finish. There are some minor imperfections that we can't sand out at this point. This is due to my cutting job..... not perfect but getting better.

After the first 6 or 7 sections, we got to the razorback part of the plane. These cuts were much more complex and it took Mark's experience to get it right. With 11 sections held together, the form of the p-47 fuselage is beginning to be recognizable.
Jan 18, 2009, 05:16 PM
Gravity sucks.
mrittinger's Avatar
Mike, I have cut the final sections for you.

Here we see the fuselage taking the general shape. From here, the sections will be glued to a central keel of 3/16 balsa, then sanded smooth.
We will do one side on the board to maintain a nice, straight fuse, then do the opposite side when dry.
This method results in a very light, strong , straight assembly.

Once this is done, we'll move on to the 1/8 ply firewall/motor mount, then cutting out of the wing saddle and hatch. We'll more than likely glass this bird with 3/4 ounce cloth and finishing resin for durability.

Jan 18, 2009, 11:16 PM
Registered User
Super job!

Jan 19, 2009, 11:55 AM
Mike Brinker
tr6world's Avatar
Thanks Pete,
I noticed you have built a couple of foamie p-47 kits. What were they and where did you get them?

As for this project, I really love the fat look of this plane. No matter what size they are, they all seem big.
Jan 19, 2009, 12:14 PM
Registered User

Oh, my dad had a TR6, I had a GT-6 Spitfire & a 1970 Spitfire.

My P-47's were scratch 3mm Depron from paper model plans enlarged.

Jan 19, 2009, 12:52 PM
You make it look so effortless nice job,

How do you check for errors on the drawings before you start cutting?
most of the times I have found these scale drawings have incorrect shape on the fuse cross-sections now and there.

Jan 19, 2009, 01:40 PM
Registered User
What foam is this and where did you get it? Where did you get your templates from?
Jan 19, 2009, 01:59 PM
Gravity sucks.
mrittinger's Avatar
Ft Sill huh? Spent my basic and AIT there.....hope to not see that place again! 13B20R

Pink foam , either 1 or 2 lb cubic ft density, can usually be found in Home Depot or Lowes in the Midwest. Other parts of the country may be harder to find. OUrs is 2" x 4' x 8'. You could use blue foam as well. Both cut about the same, and the weight difference in minimal on a prject this size.
Jan 19, 2009, 02:04 PM
Originally Posted by xterarc
You make it look so effortless nice job,

How do you check for errors on the drawings before you start cutting?
most of the times I have found these scale drawings have incorrect shape on the fuse cross-sections now and there.

pardon me

looking back again at the photo, the templates are cut from plans and not from scale reference drawings ?


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