All right Gyrenes! I know! Your tried and true F4Fs just don’t have the range to reach up to Bougainville to go after Yamamoto. What we need for this mission is a bird with long legs. What we need for this mission is a bird that packs a punch. What we need for this mission is the Lockheed Lightning. Since neither the USN nor the USMC operates them, we’ll have to call in the USAAF pukes! Call in the Lightnings!
How do you get those USAAF Lightnings to Cactus Field? They have long range but their range sure isn’t long enough to get here from the West Coast. We’ll have to ship them in as deck cargo on the Liberty Ships. I hope those civies on the docks package them right. We just need to put them together and get them in the air. We don’t have the time for intensive repair work before they have gotten off of the ground.
Is your 1:350 scale Henderson Field facing a similar problem. Or how about your 1:350 scale 8th Air Force. It sure would be nice to have a passel of P-38s or a pile of P-47 Thunderbolts to put up against the Bf-109s and FW-190s of the Luftwaffe. As in the Pacific, the best way to get them into the ETO is as deck cargo on a Liberty. Well L’Arsenal and Trumpeter both produce a 1:350 scale Liberty Ship but where do you find the deck cargo fighters for them? The answer is Toms Modelworks. Toms set TMWD006 supplies four fighters as deck cargo for your 1:350 scale Liberty Ship.
The set supplies two P-38 Lightnings and two P-47 Thunderbolts in white metal, five strut/wheel parts, a brass photo-etch fret and instructions. These models depict the aircraft disassembled for shipment not as assembled for flight. In this guise the wings outboard of the twin booms of the Lightning are not attached and the Thunderbolts do not have their tails attached. Likewise propellers are not yet assembled onto the aircraft. But what about five wheels? What’s wrong with that picture? Shouldn’t there be at least ten as the tricycle gear of the P-38s requires three each plus two each for the tail-wheeled Jugs. Ah… if you look at the photographs of the two aircraft as deck cargo in the instructions, the answer for five and not ten wheels is obvious. The P-47 was shipped with the landing gear in the down position so the wheels are needed for them. However the P-38s were shipped with the landing gear retracted into the nose and booms. The aircraft rested on shipping supports. If you look at the parts on the brass photo-etch fret supplied in the set, you’ll find landing gear covers and shipping supports for the Thunderbolts and shipping supports for the Lightnings. The instructions also mention that aircraft were normally shipped in a "cocooned" state and further explain how to achieve this look on your 1:350 aircraft.
The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was the most advanced new generation USAAC (later USAAF) fighter in production at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Early models had very streamlined and attractive engine nacelles for their liquid cooled engines. Intercoolers were placed along the leading edge of the wings for cooling and that unique design decision proved to be a vulnerability. Battle damage to the wings would likely destroy or degrade the cooling system for the engines. Models P-38J through M had radiators added under the engines to fix this problem. As a consequence these models had very prominent chins to the twin engine booms. They were definitely better fighters but not as pretty as the earlier models. The two Lightnings included in this set are of the chin radiator equipped version.
The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, otherwise known as the Jug will never be described as pretty like the Lightning. However, it could absorb more damage than any other USAAF fighter and still fly and the eight .50 machine guns could certainly dish out the punishment. P-47B and C models were plagued with problems, which had been mostly ironed out by the time that the P-47D model was ordered in October 1941. Early models of the P-47 had a ribbed canopy and a "Razorback" fuselage that ran from the canopy to the tail. This fuselage greatly restricted visibility. As a result of examining RAF studies of the bubble canopy, later models of the P-47 dumped the razorback for a reduced fuselage with bubble canopy with 360-degree visibility. The change came with the P-47D model. Of all of the Thunderbolts produced, 80% were of the P-47D. In all 12,602 P-47D models were produced. The first 5,777 were razorbacks and then production was switched to the bubble canopy version. Razorback Thunderbolts in the UK were retrofitted with British produced bubbles. The two Thunderbolts included in the set are of the early razorback version.