The Grumman TBF Avenger (designated TBM for aircraft manufactured by General Motors) was a torpedo bomber developed initially for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, and eventually used by several air or naval arms around the world. The Avenger had a large bomb bay, allowing for one Bliss-Leavitt Mark 13 torpedo, a single 2,000 pound (907 kg) bomb, or up to four 500 pound (227 kg) bombs. The aircraft had overall ruggedness and stability, and pilots say it flew like a truck, for better or worse. With its good radio facilities, docile handling, and long range, the Grumman Avenger also made an ideal command aircraft for Commanders, Air Group (CAGs).
With a 30,000 ft (10,000 m) ceiling and a fully loaded range of 1,000 mi (1,610 km), it was better than any previous American torpedo bomber, and better than its Japanese counterpart, the obsolete Nakajima B5N “Kate”. Later Avenger models carried radar equipment for the ASW and AEW roles.
Although improvements in new types of aviation radar were soon forthcoming from the engineers at MIT and the electronic industry, the available radars in 1943 were very bulky, because they contained vacuum tube technology. Because of this, radar was at first carried only on the roomy TBF Avengers, but not on the smaller and faster fighters.
The Kit: There is not much to say about this kit that we don’t know already. This kit is everything you’ve read about it and a little bit more. The details is so crisp in some areas, that I dare to say that it rivals resin after market parts. The rivets and panel lines have the proper depth to receive the 3 color scheme layers, gloss coat, decals and sludge wash with oils and last but not least, the final flat coat.
In the process of painting this Avenger, I got distracted and painted the top of the wings in the wrong shade of blue taking another coat of the rightful Vallejo 70898 Dark Sea Blue (Non Specular Blue FS-35042).
This Accurate Miniatures 1/48 TBF/M Avenger is a great detailed kit, I know, I already said that. The neat thing is that it does builds into a nice model without a unnecessarily high parts count. You’ll be amazed at the amount of details in just 4 sprues.
The worst part: OK, there has to be an achilles heel on this model kit and here I go. Every single part on this kit fits like it should, the problem? The TBF/M Avenger has one of the worst instructions I ever worked with. Accurate Miniatures is no longer in business, so you better dry test fit as much as you need before committing some parts to glue. For the moment, there is no place to go for spare parts.
As far as I know, Italeri Models now owns the molds from this kit. Frankly, I do hope they do something about the instructions, they do need to be revised. I’m sharing here some close-up pictures of the assembled Avenger turret so you can have a reference to work with. Also, there is a screen grab from the Accurate Miniatures site (no longer available) with instructions to install the ball turret to the fuselage.
Painting and Weathering: The paint scheme for the TBF Avenger that George H. W. Bush flew and was shot down back on September 2nd, 1944 calls for the following colors:
-Non-Specular Sea Blue (FS 35042)
-Intermediate Blue (FS 35164)
-Flat White (FS 37875)
Now here is a thing, as most of you know, I only use acrylics. There is no acrylic equivalent (that I know) from Model Master in their Acryl color line for the Non-Specular Blue FS-35042. In that case, I had to use Vallejo 70898 Dark Sea Blue listed as the equivalent for the FS-35042.
Weathering was achieved using Silver and White Prismacolor pencils. For the oil stains running from the cowling and fuselage, I placed a dot of black artist oil with a toothpick. Then, I used a soft dry brush brushing in the airflow direction. If you’re not happy with the result, you can always clean up and start again.
It’s been a while since I don’t build a model kit that goes together so well like this one. I would definitely build another, the only thing weak about this kit is the instructions. Other than that, you will end with a very good model out of the box.
This kit had the mask set included for the clear parts. If you have a TBF Avenger in your stash and it doesn’t have the mask included, I really encourage you to get a set from Eduard Models. It will save you plenty of time, honest, you are going to need it.
Your comments and questions are always encouraging and welcome. Feel free to leave your comments below.