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TBD-1 Kit

Trumpeter 1/32 TBD-1 Devastator Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2023 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject TBD-1 Devastator Scale 1/32
Kit Number 2226 Primary Media Styrene/Photo-Etch
Pros Nice Detailing, Excellent Subject Possibilities Cons See text
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $124.95

First Look

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

The TBD-1 Devastator was one of the winners of a U.S. Navy competition in 1934 for a new bomber to operate from its aircraft carriers. As it entered service in 1935, the TBD-1 achieved a number of 'firsts': first widely used monoplane; first all-metal aircraft; first fully enclosed cockpit; and first hydraulically operated folding wing system. Despite these advantages, aircraft development was happening at break-neck speeds and by the time the U.S. entered World War II, the TBD-1 was obsolete. While the TBF Avenger was developed to replace the TBD, it was not yet ready in the early days of the war. While the TBD-1 performed well during the battles for the Marcus Island, Wake Island, Marshall Island, and Gilbert Island, the TBD-1 ran out of luck at Midway Island as the aircraft faced off against the A6M Zero. Most of the TBDs at Midway were lost in action and the remaining aircraft were reassigned to non-combat duties.

Here is a kit that folks have literally waited years for. Over 10 years ago, Trumpeter (and HobbyBoss) would publish their annual kit catalogs and in each edition, there would be upcoming releases on display. The problem was that over time, we'd see one or two new subjects, but we'd also see the same dozen or so subjects still awaiting release. The 1/32 TBD Devastator was one of those kits that appeared in the catalogs as a future release for years. Fast Forward to present day and Trumpeter has finally worked through its 'new kit' backlog and here we have the TBD-1.

The kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on seven parts trees plus two cowlings, and one tree of clear parts. Unlike Trumpeter kits of the past, this kit is not over-engineered. Assembly appears to be straightforward without the complicated subassemblies that would plague older kits. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of detail parts to dress up the three cockpits/interiors, but gone are the engine assemblies that provide separate cylinder heads or multi-part cowlings, etc.

Among the features and options included in this release:

  • Detailed pilot's cockpit
  • Detailed bombardier cockpit
  • Subfloor under the cockpit for bombardier's station
  • Detailed radio operator/gunner's station
  • Photo-etched seat belts on the crew seats
  • Ammo storage box at rear of gunner's station
  • Detailed Pratt & Whitney engine
  • Choice of cowlings: open or closed cowl flaps
  • Wings can be displayed folded or extended
  • Flaps can be positioned closed or extended
  • Bombardier station doors positioned open
  • Choice of one-piece (closed) canopy or multi-segment canopy for open cockpits
  • Gunner's gun storage doors can be positioned open or closed
  • Can be armed with torpedo or a pair of bombs

Decals are provided for the following two examples:

  • TBD-1, squadron commander, Torpedo 2, USS Lexington, pre-war
  • TBD-1, aircraft 3, very early war

In addition, this set provides a comprehensive sheet of window masks to keep you from losing your will to live during painting.

Overall, this is a beautiful kit of an advanced aircraft of its day that was unfortunately an obsolete aircraft at the start of World War II. While the early war paint scheme is interesting, it is the pre-war multi-colored example that interests me. I hope we'll see some aftermarket options available for this kit soon!