While thumbing through the December 2014 issue of Scale Aviation Modeler International, Hangar 47’s webmaster discovered the unimaginable… a major Chinese company (Trumpeter/Easy Model) had copied the original hand-painted nose art featured on this site’s 2007 full build review of the P-47D Thunderbolt.  Read the full story of this notorious knock off here…

Testors’ P-47D Thunderbolt, the “Rat Hunter” Knocked Off by Chinese Model Manufacturer

The original Rat Hunter, the Hawk/Testors P-47D Thunderbolt, first posted to Hangar 47 in November 2007 and featuring hand-painted nose art. As of December 2014, Easy Model of China is releasing a 1/48 scale die-cast knock-off, right down to the dead Nazi rat on the cowling….

Trumpeter Copies a Hangar 47 Exclusive:
The “Rat Hunter” Catches on in China

Well, it’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. To put it another way, you know your work must be good if someone is trying to copy it. Your Webmaster was nonetheless shocked when I recently opened the December 2014 issue of Scale Aviation Modeler International, and as I often do, started scouring the ads on the first few pages. There on the bottom half of the first page (Page 1103) for all the world to see, was an ad featuring photos of Easy Model kits in 1/48 scale, including a P-47D Thunderbolt painted in the colors of the 332nd Fighter Group, the Tuskegee Airmen, recognizable by its overall natural metal finish with a red cowl ring and distinctive red tail.

But the paint scheme itself is not the source of what may be a copyright violation committed by Trumpeter, which owns Easy Model. It’s the fact that the Easy Model kit’s nose art is an identical replica of the hand-painted work on the Hawk/Testors P-47D Thunderbolt that was one of the very first completed kits posted here on Hangar 47 back in November 2007, one month after this site was launched. The nose art markings include the name “Rat Hunter” appearing in red letters on the port side of the fuselage outlined in black, and feature a dead rat with a Nazi banner across its mid-section on the cowl. These nose art markings are an exact copy of the artwork that I hand-painted on the P-47 posted here, and at the time, I never dreamed the artwork would be deemed good enough to warrant copying. Note to every modeler reading this: Don’t be so quick to underestimate your handiwork.

But apparently, some enterprising folks in China (where copyright and trademark laws do not exist) hit upon the idea to use modern technology to convert scanned images of the hand-painted nose art on Hangar 47’s Rat Hunter into markings that appear on the diecast version they are now — Presto! — mass marketing as an actual Tuskegee Airmen aircraft. A close examination revealed that both the lettering and the frankly less than perfect image of the rat to be exact copies of my original work.

Having done my homework, I can share the interesting tidbit that while the Tuskegee Airmen did briefly operate in P-47’s, even in overall natural metal finish with red tails, none of them ever flew a plane called Rat Hunter. That was solely a product of my imagination, right down to the image of the dead rat. See the original Rat Hunter webpage.

The Easy Model die-cast knock-off, released in December 2014, copying precisely the nose art of the original — which was unveiled to the world for the first time here on Hangar 47 in October 2007.

But apparently, some enterprising folks in China (where copyright and trademark laws do not exist) hit upon the idea to use modern technology to convert scanned images of the hand-painted nose art on Hangar 47’s Rat Hunter into markings that appear on the diecast version they are now — Presto! — mass marketing as an actual Tuskegee Airmen aircraft. A close examination revealed that both the lettering and the frankly less than perfect image of the rat to be exact copies of my original work.

Having done my homework, I can share the interesting tidbit that while the Tuskegee Airmen did briefly operate in P-47’s, even in overall natural metal finish with red tails, none of them ever flew a plane called Rat Hunter. That was solely a product of my imagination, right down to the image of the dead rat. See the original Rat Hunter webpage.

Hangar 47’s original Rat Hunter in all its Alclad glory. While the artwork was anything but award-winning, it was good enough that Easy Model believed they could turn a profit from it.

As if all this weren’t enough, I did some digging and discovered that this is not the first Rat Hunter knock-off. A 1/72 scale version has been available from Easy Model since 2012. From Day One here at Hangar 47, I have striven to model interesting subjects, and where possible, to do original work. It’s gratifying to know that somebody out there likes it well enough to copy it…

 

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