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TBD-1 Devastator Kit

Great Wall Hobby 1/48 TBD-1 Devastator Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2012 Manufacturer Great Wall Hobby
Subject TBD-1 Devastator Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4807 Primary Media Styrene/Photo-Etch
Pros Beautifully done model of this distinctive aircraft Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $66.95

First Look

TBD-1 Devastator Kit
TBD-1 Devastator Kit
TBD-1 Devastator Kit
TBD-1 Devastator Kit
TBD-1 Devastator Kit
TBD-1 Devastator Kit

When Douglas introduced the Devastator into the US Navy's carrier air groups in 1937, they had created the blueprint for future naval aviation. The aircraft was the first monoplane to go to sea. With the exception of the flight control surfaces, the aircraft was all-metal in construction. Most importantly, the wings could be folded to facilitate dense parking on the limited real estate of the flight deck or in the hangar deck.

By the time war erupted a few years later, the TBD-1 was on the other end of the technology spectrum - virtually obsolete. As Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once said: "You don't go to war with the forces you want, you go with the forces you have." Such was the case with the TBD-1, and its crews fought hard. In the Battle of Coral Sea, TBD-1s helped to sink the carrier Shoho, but in the Battle of Midway, the Devastators experienced devastating losses and were soon replaced with the TBF Avenger.

Great Wall Hobby is a kit manufacturer from China that recently started producing model kits initially focused on armor subjects. This kit is their latest aviation subject and once again the 'wow' factor is there. If you're an armor builder, you should know Great Wall Hobby's sister company, Lion Roar, which produces outstanding aftermarket detail sets for the armor and ship modeling markets. Let's take a look at this latest subject:

I remember several months ago when Great Wall Hobbies first announced the TBD-1 Devastator. Up to that point, they had been focused on producing variants of two other long-overdue subjects, the Focke Wulf Fw 189 and the Northrop P-61 Black Widow. In both cases these kits are the best of their respective subjects in any scale (to date). With the TBD Devastator, our only option has been the venerable Monogram kit and that release is still very nice (for its age).

With this release, Great Wall Hobbies has produced the first new-tool TBD Devastator kit in literally decades. How did they do? I think you're going to be as impressed as I am. The kit is moded in light gray styrene and presented on four parts treees plus one tree of clear parts and two frets of photo-etched details.

Some of the features/options in this kit:

  • Three very detailed cockpits
  • Seat belts/shoulder harnesses provided as photo-etched parts
  • Radio equipment nicely done
  • Detailed bombardier/torpedoman positions
  • Dual .50 caliber rear gun ring installation
  • Canopies can be positioned open or closed
  • One-piece canopy provided for completely closed option
  • Observation/aiming doors are positionable
  • Detailed Twin Wasp engine
  • Choice of open or closed cowl flaps
  • Wings can be posed folded or extended
  • Flaps can be posed extended or closed
  • Landing gear can be posed raised or down
  • Ventral belly pan options for plain or recessed torpedo cradle
  • Optional bomb shackles provided for plain belly pan version
  • Two types of torpedoes provided, one with standard fins, the other with the special box fin
  • Canopy paint masks are included

Most of the detailing is finely scribed with exception of the raised ribbing on the wing surfaces. With aircraft of this generation, this is where raised rivets would be the norm. The fabric-covered flight control surfaces are nicely done.

With all of the nice details and options in the box, the kit isn't over-engineered and should be a straightforward build. The inclusion of the canopy paint masks is a major plus as I'd lose my will to live if I had to mask each of those windows individually (the old-fashioned way).

Markings are provided for two examples from Commander John Waldron's Torpedo Eight Squadron at the Battle of Midway:

  • TBD-1, 8-T-14, VT-8, USS Hornet, June 1942, as flown by Ensign George Gay
  • TBD-1, 8-T-16, VT-8, USS Hornet, June 1942

The decal sheet provides propeller tip markings, walkways, national markings, and stenciling. Aircraft number 14 was flown by Ensign George Gay, the only survivor of Waldron's Devastator attack. What sometimes gets overlooked is the fact that VT-8 was in the process of transitioning to the TBF Avenger at the time and that group of pilots ferried their Avengers to Midway to take part in that battle, and most of those were destroyed by the Japanese air defenders as well.

This is a very nice looking kit and it has all of the right features that modelers expect from new-tooled subjects. While the markings in this first release are focused on the Battle of Midway, you can grab some Yellow-Wings Decals and backdate the kit to a pre-war yellow-winged example with ease. Whatever your interest, this is a very nice addition to your scale flight deck!

My sincere thanks to Great Wall Hobbies for this review sample!