Accurate Miniatures 1/48 TBM-1C Avenger Build Review
By Stephen Sutton
|Date of Review||March 2006 (Updated July 2011)||Manufacturer||Accurate Miniatures|
|Kit Number||480120||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Excellent exterior and interior detailing||Cons|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$44.98|
The Avenger was names in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941 “a day that will live in infamy”, but those pilots that flew her lovingly called her “turkey”. The Avenger was the largest single-engine aircraft to serve in World War Two. The Bureau of Aeronautics requirements called for an aircraft with a maximum speed of 300 MPH (482 km/h), a maximum range of over 1000 miles (1609 km), and a maximum ceiling of 30,000 feet (9144 m). Additionally requirements included a maximum carrier take-off distance of 325 feet (99 m), with wind across the bow), and an internal weapons bay.
The design was awarded to Grumman, whose prototype not only bristled with armament, but also carried the innovative “Stow-Wing,” which had been recently introduced on Grumman’s stubby little F4F-3 Wildcat. This design was the brainchild of Roy Grumman, who created the concept of wings folding backwards along the fuselage by using an eraser and two paperclips.
The Avenger was ordered into production in December 1940 with the first delivery being made in January 1942. Grumman was producing 60 Avengers a month by mid-1942 when the Navy required an increased production. The need was met by adding the Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors to the manufacturing program. These were identical to the Avengers produced by Grumman, but were designated “TBM.” By the end of 1943, the Eastern Aircraft was sole producer of Avengers. Over 7500 Avengers had been produced by VJ day, of which over 100 samples survive to this day.
President George H.W. Bush flew the Avenger and was shot down over the islands of Chichi Jima on September 2 1944; he was rescued a short time later by a near by submarine crew from the USS Finback. You can read more about Presidents Bush’s Avenger service in a national bestseller by James Bradley called Flyboys, I highly recommend this book.
I must say that I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on this kit, and it is the finest 1/48th scale TBM-1C kit available, the skies the limit to detail this beauty. My preview copy from Accurate Miniatures was free of sink marks, flash and warped plastic. The instruction booklet is packed full of paint color call outs and recommended building strategies for assembling the kit. First I acquired the recommended paints from my local hobby shop, one recommended color I had difficulty identifying in my paint charts was bronze green, I finally found this color in the Humbrol enamel line of paints number 75 thanks to Fotios Rouch.
Cockpit and Bombay assembly assembled very easy, I followed the instructions step by step and encountered no problems. The instrument panel is molded in clear plastic so the instrument faces were masked with white glue and the front of the panel was spray can painted matte black, do not paint the back of the instrument panel, the instrument dials are included with the kit decals, these were applied next to a back side of the instrument panel.
All the switches and knobs where painted with varying colors of silver, red and yellow with a toothpick. Very nice detail here, no need for aftermarket PE for those on a limited budget. Next I painted the side panel’s matte black and applied the same painting technique as the instrument panel. The cockpit floor and bulkhead was painted with Acryl interior green with my Aztec 470 airbrush.
The seat belts for the pilot seat are provided as decals, so I used these as suggested in the instructions, and they look very good behind the greenhouse canopies. Next the fuselage center was assembled with no problems, the rear bulkhead comes in clear plastic so you will need to mask the small window identified on the instruction sheet before you paint this part. Interior green was used to paint the interior fuselage halves and the fuselage center areas.
This is where the bronze-green comes into play, the fairing behind the pilot’s headrest should be painted bronze-green (Humbrol #75). Next the seatbelt was applied just the same as the pilots seat. The rear fuselage was assembled next, no problems was found here, I painted the arrestor hook white and black then I glued it as per the instructions during step 3, this was a mistake as I ended up breaking off the hook later on during the build process, so I would recommend installing this last with all the other small exterior bits during step 9 of the kit instructions. The fuselage halves where test fitted and then they where glued together carefully, working my way front to back. Tamiya thin liquid glue was used.
Very little filler if any was used on the fuselage halves. Step 4 engine and tail surfaces was assembled next the engine was carefully painted using the color call-outs in the instructions and using references found in my copy of Squadron Signal Avenger walk around book. I did not install the exhaust pipes during this step, as I wanted to paint the fuselage first then install them last during step 9. Extra care was taken to assemble the engine cowling halves and these where set aside to dry overnight.
Then I test fitted the engine cowling to the front of the fuselage and found that this was a tight squeeze, so a little bit of sanding around the fuselage mounting area made a better fit.
Next came step 5 the wings and landing gear, I opened up the holes for the Yagi Radar on the wings then I glued the wing halves together, wow once again no filler was needed. The instructions suggest you paint the wings first then attach them to the fuselage but I decided to attach them first then mask and paint later, the wings attached to the fuselage with absolutely no visible gaps.
The landing gear assembled very nicely, all I had to do was sand off the bottom of the tires to represent an 18,000-pound fully loaded “turkey.” Next I assembled the torpedo that came with my sample and I installed this before the bomb bay boors. Step 6 was trouble free, the bomb bay doors needed to be separated using an x-acto #11 blade, then these where attached to actuating arms, once again I test fitted the doors and I glued them with thin liquid glue. Step 7 clear canopy parts was saved for the last, I masked the main canopy and windshield with Tamiya tape and then I cut out the frames carefully with a new #11 blade.
After everything was carefully masked, I airbrushed the frames with interior green, then I over sprayed the frames with Testors enamel Non-Specular Sea Blue FS-35042. Step 8 was the only part I had some difficulty with, assembling the gun turret. I had a problem getting the gun turret trunion’s to line up with the notches on the turret halves. I ended up using a lot of gap filling super glue, clamps and patience so everything would stay together and still be functional.
You will need to use super glue on the clear turret halves so the bond with is strong enough for installation of the gun trunion’s. I would recommend you dip the turret in Johnson’s Future floor wax prior to using super glue on clear parts, if your not careful the fumes of the super glue with fog the clear plastic, using future with allow you to clean off the fogging by simply using alcohol based window cleaner or another coat of Future.
After three attempts of assembling the turret and gun mount, it finally worked. I then installed the turret into the fuselage by following the instructions highlighted on Accurate Miniatures web site (see link below). The side windows were installed and masked prior to painting the fuselage; these windows mount from the outside and do require some sanding on the edges so they fit flush with the fuselage.
All the canopies where installed after everything was painted. I used MV Products clear lens LS 23 for the left wing leading edge light, then I painted the navigations lights with Humbrol chrome and Tamiya clear red, green and blue acrylics. Yagi antenna, exhaust pipes, arresting hook and stretched sprue antenna was installed last.
Painting and Finishing
Three options for decals was provided with my sample, The VT-51 President George Bush White X3 and White X2. Royal New Zealand Air Force Number 30 Squadron “Plonky”.
I decided to use the President George Bush White X2 decals to represent the aircraft he flew on several missions, it was noted in the instructions that President Bush was shot down while flying the White X3. I also opted to use the “Barbara III” decal because I thought it looked nice, however this may have never been allowed on the real bird as the Commander for VT-51 did not allow personal markings.
I airbrushed the plane with the standard three-tone paint scheme, using flat white FS-37875 on the lower surfaces and then I airbrushed non-specular sea blue FS 35042 on the upper surfaces and upper wings, then I airbrushed intermediate blue FS-35164 on the mid-fuselage and on the leading edge top surfaces of the wings and horizontal stabilizers. I highlighted the panels with flat white added to the applicable colors and then I future coated the whole model for the decals.
After the future floor wax dried overnight I then applied all the decals, using Walthers Solvaset decal setting solution. The decals really wrinkled up, but they soon laid down very nicely. Warning, do not try to smooth out the decals after they wrinkle because of the solvaset, you could tear them. Then I highlighted all the recessed panel lines with a very sharp # 2 lead pencil. I let everything dry overnight, and then I airbrushed using Testors acryl clear flat finish. I weathered the exhaust area and panels with a model railroad product called the “Weather System” rust and weather system by Bragdon Enterprises, by using a small hard bristle brush. You can find a review of this right here on Cybermodeler. I was very pleased with the exhaust look of this weathering system
This was a very nice kit to build; it required very little filler as a matter of fact I can’t remember if I used any at all. I only had difficulty assembling the turret. Installation of the turret was a tight squeeze even though I followed the directions on Accurate Miniatures web site.
I would like to thank Accurate Miniature for the review sample.
- Weather System, Bragdon Enterprises http://www.bragdonent.com
- Flyboys – A True Story of Courage, By James Bradley