Author Topic: The Seversky Thundercloud - (Great Grand) Mother of the Thunderbolt  (Read 246 times)

Offline Brian da Basher

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The P-47 Thunderbolt is one of the truly iconic aircraft of W.W. II.



Less well remembered are the aircraft that preceded it and even more obscure is the prototype pursuit that started it all, the Seversky XPH-29.



It all began in late 1927 when Alexander Seversky was trying to get his start-up off the ground.



An acquaintance of his had become Director of Aircraft Development for the U.S. Army Air Corps and invited Seversky for drinks at the Army/Navy Club.



After a few toasts to Lucky Lindy, the topic turned to the new, larger engines that had been developed since the end of the Great War. Hoping to reap the benefits of such huge increases in power, the concept of the heavy pursuit was born.



This would be the first Army Air Corps or even government contract for the nascent firm and Seversky wanted to bring the latest, most cutting edge technology together for the new heavy pursuit.



Seversky spared no effort and 18 months later, he presented finished drawings for consideration. The Air Corps are very meticulous, especially when it comes to expensive, cutting-edge kit. Contract terms weren't finalized until after the stock market crash in 1929, leaving the Director of Aircraft Development chasing congressional funding to build the prototype.



Some creative accounting with the U.S. Army Balloon Corps budget would enable Seversky to deliver what the Air Corps officially called the XPH-29 but what would become almost known as the Thundercloud.



This nickname wasn't a nod to some Native American lore, but due to the loud exhaust from the enormous engine which would never be properly muffled. Fortunately, the XPH-29 performed acceptably, but unfortunately, it was incredibly expensive due to its size, power-plant, and perpex bubble canopy.



Only one Thundercloud would ever be built but the Air Corps never found a role for it, so it was warehoused. In 1933, the XPH-29 was briefly called back into service to help track down a notorious gang of bank robbers.



While it was un-armed and mainly performed reconnaissance, its loud, backfiring engine scared drivers into running off the road. The Thundercloud was put back into storage and scrapped shortly afterwards. Nothing remains of the XPH-29 today except this company 1/72 scale model, notable as one of the first uses of the Seversky logo.



Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: December 19, 2018, 05:42:18 AM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: The Seversky Thundercloud - (Great Grand) Mother of the Thunderbolt
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2018, 06:07:40 AM »
This all started with the classic Hawk 1/48 SPAD XIII a good friend sent me recently (thanks a million, hamsterman!). Isn't that box art something? It almost makes you feel like you're high over the western front.



While this is one of the oldest plastic model kits made, still it comes with everything you need, even if there's not a lot of parts.



I know it's all there though because mine was inspected twice!



The decals have made it through the past four decades or so in relatively good shape.



These will be squirreled away for future use.

And here's the instructions, starting with a nice history of the SPAD XIII and an exploded view.



They tie this all up with a marking guide. Hawk has left nothing out!



Of course, mine was going to end up a little different.



My spidey-sense was telling me some scale-o-rama from 1/48 to 1/72 was in order. I scrounged some lovely white-metal Aeroclub Gloster Gauntlet spats and added a drop-tank half for that pricey perspex bubble canopy.



My spidey-sense was indeed on the beam as it turns out the Thundercloud scales nicely with a P-47.



The idea was to come up with a P-47 progenitor built with the best 1929 tech.



In the spirit of this concept, I capped it off with an actual Thunderbolt prop and tail wheel.



The cabanes were swiped from a 1/72 Po-2 and luckily, I found four I-153 interplane struts which were beefed up by adding a thinner piece in back.



The rest of it, except for canopy and landing gear, was built OOB. Rigging was done with busted steel guitar strings and white glue.



The model was painted using the old hairy stick and acrylics, a custom OD mix for the fuselage and Insignia Yellow on the wings & tail planes.



The canopy was done in Polly Scale RLM-something Lichtblau and given a gloss coat to get it nice & shiny.



The exhaust and front grille were done with custom mixes and the rudder stripes in Model Masters Insignia Blue, White Primer and Model Color Flat Red.



The decals were all spares and that Seversky logo comes from a 1/48 Williams Bros. P-35A. It took me a week all told to build this model and I was astonished again by the fit of such a vintage kit. The fuselage and lower wing almost didn't need glue.

Before I forget, here's the "money shot" (U.S. penny for scale):



Many thanks to Bill for his kindness in sending me this classic! I couldn't have done it without you!

I hope you enjoyed the Seversky XPH-29 Thundercloud and reading a little more forgotten aircraft history even if it's a bit on the heavy side.



Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: December 19, 2018, 06:15:10 AM by Brian da Basher »

Offline finsrin

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Re: The Seversky Thundercloud - (Great Grand) Mother of the Thunderbolt
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2018, 09:56:00 AM »
True visionary to perceive Spad scale-o-rama to 1/72 Thundercloud.  Looks the part next to a P-47. :smiley:
Colors, rigging, prop clinch the build.

Offline The Big Gimper

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Re: The Seversky Thundercloud - (Great Grand) Mother of the Thunderbolt
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2018, 07:27:19 PM »
I am "thunder struck" by yet another one of your awesome builds Brian.
Work in progress ::

I am giving up listing them. They all end up on the shelf of procrastination anyways.

User and abuser of Bothans...

Offline kerick

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Re: The Seversky Thundercloud - (Great Grand) Mother of the Thunderbolt
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2018, 12:13:54 AM »
What they said!!!

Offline kitnut617

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Re: The Seversky Thundercloud - (Great Grand) Mother of the Thunderbolt
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2018, 12:19:24 AM »
Love it Brian  :-*

But wouldn't it come before the P-35   ???

Offline Dr. YoKai

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Re: The Seversky Thundercloud - (Great Grand) Mother of the Thunderbolt
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2018, 04:44:17 AM »
Mighty nifty, Brian!