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Hobby Boss 1/48 Avenger Mk.I Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2009 Manufacturer Hobby Boss
Subject Avenger Mk.I Scale 1/48
Kit Number 80331 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Folding wings, great detail, lots of options Cons  
Skill Level Novice MSRP (USD) $74.99

First Look


The TBF was a Grumman design that was the answer to a Naval requirement for an aircraft that could operate from aircraft carriers, fly over 300 mph with a range over 1,000 miles, perform a variety of missions from torpedo, bombing, scouting, and more. The TBF entered production a year before Pearl Harbor and as deliveries began in the beginning of 1942, the name 'Avenger' was applied in response to that attack.

The Avenger was the largest aircraft operated off of an aircraft carrier in World War 2. Due to its exceptional low-speed handling and rearward folding wings, the Avenger would operate off of more escort carriers than full-sized fleet carriers.

Grumman was producing the TBF at 60 aircraft per month by mid-1942, but the Navy wanted greater production capacity. The Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors was tapped to co-produce the Avenger initially, with the TBF-1 and TBM-1 being identical aircraft. The Navy ultimately shifted all production of the Avenger as well as the Grumman F4F Wildcat to GM so that Grumman could focus its resources on the next generation fighter - the F6F Hellcat.

Until recently, the only definitive choice for building the TBF/TBM Avenger has been the Accurate Miniatures kits which have been on the market for nearly 15 years. Of course there are also the Monogram and Lindberg Avengers which have been around for much longer. So what's changed? Trumpeter released their magnificent 1/32 TBF/TBM Avenger kit providing the first styrene offering of this subject in that scale.

More recently, Hobby Boss released the first of their Avenger kits and like many of their releases, this Avenger tooling is based upon the Trumpeter 1/32 CAD drawings that have been scaled down to 1/48 and tweaked to optimize the model for this scale. Among those tweaks in the tooling, Hobby Boss retained (and improved) the wing folds, retained the separate flaps, but left the ailerons, elevators and rudder molded in place. The mainspar design through the fuselage and into the inboard wing sections remains identical to its larger cousin.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on eight parts trees, plus two trees of clear parts and a separately packaged ball turret dome. As with the Trumpeter kit, the surface detailing is sharp and there is no sign of the mad riveter at work on this set of tooling.

So is this kit worth the additional $30 over the current retail price of the Accurate Miniatures kit? Let's take a look:

While the AM tooling is holding up for its age, you can only build the aircraft with the wings extended. With the huge wings that the Avenger had, this takes up space on the shelf or display case. An aftermarket company called Dangerboy came on the scene a number of years ago with a series of stunning resin wingfold sets for several different aircraft, most notably the AM Avenger. You could finally build the Avenger with its huge wings stowed. Even though the Essex-class carriers were the largest in World War II, there still wasn't enough room to have an Avenger maneuver safely on deck with its wings extended. Like the other Grummans on deck, the wings came out when the aircraft was positioned and it was time to fly.

While the Dangerboy wingfold set was beautifully done, it was more expensive than the kit itself. So on this basis alone, the wingfold feature in this kit makes this model cheaper than the combination of AM kit and the Dangerboy wingfold that is now produced by Lonestar Models. But that isn't the only difference in the box. The scoreboard looks like this:

  • Positionable wings: AM - no; Hobby Boss - yes
  • Positionable flaps: AM - no; Hobby Boss - yes
  • Positionable front canopy: AM - yes; Hobby Boss - yes
  • Positionable rear canopy: AM - no; Hobby Boss - yes
  • Positionable bomb bay doors: AM - two doors you glue together to close; Hobby Boss - one part you cut in half to open
  • Positionable cowl flaps: AM - no; Hobby Boss - yes
  • One piece turret dome: AM - no; Hobby Boss - yes

There are other subtle differences, but you can see that the Hobby Boss kit does get an edge from more advanced tooling and injection molding technologies.

Like the 1/32 scale Trumpeter release, this kit comes with a wealth of external stores:

  • Bomb bay fuel tank
  • 2 x drop tanks
  • 8 x underwing rockets
  • 1 x torpedo
  • 4 x 250lb bombs
  • 2 x 500lb bombs

Markings are provided for three Avenger Mk.Is:

  • Avenger Mk.I, JZ165, 852 Sqn, RN, 1944
  • Avenger Mk.I, unknown, 711 Sqn, RN, 1945
  • Avenger Mk.I, JZ114, 848 Sqn, RN, 1945

This is a great kit of the Avenger and don't worry about buying this kit if you're wanting to build a USN example. The Avenger Mk.I is the TBF-1/TBF-1C, Avenger Mk.II is the TBM-1/TBM-1C, and Avenger Mk.III is the TBM-3. If you don't want to do a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm subject, all you need to do is grab one of the numerous aftermarket decal sets available for the AM or Hobby Boss kits and press on. How many folks use the decals that come in the box anyway?

So is this kit worth the extra $30 USD over the AM kit? That really depends on what you want to do with the model. If having the wings deployed is fine for you, then you need to balance the other features listed above. If you do want to fold the wings, this is the best buy.

My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample!