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Accurate Miniatures 1/48 TBM-3 Avenger Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2005 (Updated July 2011) Manufacturer Accurate Miniatures
Subject TBM-3 Avenger Scale 1/48
Kit Number 480121 Primary Media Styrene
Pros The best Avenger in 1/48 scale Cons No wing fold option (except aftermarket)
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production

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.

Accurate Miniatures released the first Avenger kit many years ago and until recently, was the nicest Avenger kit in any scale. Trumpeter did a great job on their 1/32 scale Avenger, but Accurate Miniatures is still top of the heap for the Avenger in 1/48 scale. Prior to this release, they had two basic Avengers on the market - the TBF-1C/TBM-1C and the TBM-3. The original TBF-1C/TBM-1C has been replaced by the TBF-1C/TBM-1C 'George H.W. Bush' Avenger, and the original TBM-3 kit is superseded by this TBM-3D.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on eight parts trees, plus a tree with all of the clear parts. What's different about this kit and the previous TBM-3 release is the new set of parts for the radar fairing that is mounted on the outboard section of the starboard wing. If you don't want to build the night fighter version, simply omit these parts and you can apply any of the multitudes of TBM-3 aftermarket decals to get whichever aircraft you do want to replicate.

The kit has one of the nicest out-of-the box interiors produced to date. The cockpit is very detailed and in the hands of an skilled detail painter, looks outstanding on display. The wheel wells, engine and weapons bay are nothing to sneeze at either. Despite all of the detail, the kit is still a simple build.

The one option worth finding would be an aftermarket wingfold. There was a company called Dangerboy Hobbies that produced THE NICEST wingfold conversions I've seen and one of those conversions was for the Accurate Miniatures' Avenger (either version). The molds were sold to Lone Star Models and were in production for a while, but unfortunately, Lone Star has shut down its operations.

Markings are provided for two examples:

  • TBM-3D, VT(N)-90 'Batmen'
  • TBM-3D, Squadron 79M, NAS Ft Lauderdale, FL, Flight 19, 5 Dec 1945

While this kit has been on the market long enough now to be reissued by Accurate Miniatures and Italeri, this is still the only real choice for a quality rendition of the Grumman Avenger. There are lots of aftermarket decals available for this kit in case you want a different aircraft than what is included in the kit.

This kit is highly recommended!

Thanks to Accurate Miniatures for this review sample!