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TBD-1A Devastator Floatplane Kit

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

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2013 Manufacturer Great Wall Hobby
Subject TBD-1A Devastator Floatplane Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4812 Primary Media Styrene/Photo-Etch
Pros Beautifully done model of this distinctive aircraft Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $69.95

First Look

TBD-1A Devastator Floatplane Kit
TBD-1A Devastator Floatplane Kit
TBD-1A Devastator Floatplane Kit
TBD-1A Devastator Floatplane Kit
TBD-1A Devastator Floatplane Kit
TBD-1A Devastator Floatplane 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.

As war loomed on the horizon, the Navy was looking at options for deploying airpower into island regions with no airfields nor aircraft carriers for staging conventional aircraft. One TBD-1 was modified with a pair of Edo floats to test its ability to operate as a floatplane torpedo bomber in 1939. While test photos showed the aircraft in flight test, it was safe to say that the Navy didn't adopt the concept.

Great Wall Hobby has returned with another installment in the TBD Devastator series. This kit is their latest aviation subject and once again the 'wow' factor is there. I remember 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). Let's take a look at this latest subject:

The kit is moded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees 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
  • .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
  • One set of new-tooled Edo floats
  • Ventral belly pan options for plain torpedo cradle
  • Centerline torpedo armament
  • 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 one example:

  • TBD-1, 0268, 2X1

The decal sheet provides propeller tip markings, walkways, national markings, and stenciling.

This is a very nice looking kit and it has all of the right features that modelers expect from new-tooled subjects. Whatever your interest, this is a very nice addition to your scale flight deck!

My sincere thanks to DML for this review sample!