Trumpeter | TBF-1C Avenger
Reviewed by Francis Gallemi
Upon opening the box, I was overwhelmed at the number of parts inside the box and the size of the beast. The kit includes 392 medium gray parts molded in their usual plastic, 31 clear plastic parts, 10 black vinyl like parts, 3 rubber tires and 2 photo-etched frets are also included. One is for the working surfaces and the second is for additional details. The transparent film for the instrument panel is also present. The decal sheet includes markings for two aircraft as well as servicing stencils.The instruction booklet is comprised of 28 pages describing the assembly in 59 steps. A large color sheet, printed separately, describes the different markings and color call-outs.
It has been mentioned on different forums that this kit is an up-scaled version of the Accurate Miniatures Avengers. I see no evidence of this. At first glance the resemblance seems to indicate just that. The comparison of both kits however proves this is not the case.
Back in 1996, I printed a set of plans on the Avenger which some considered quite accurate at the time. I used these to check for outline accuracy of the kit. Much to my surprise, my plans where wrong on some small issues. The kit however, is correct.
The entire airframe is engraved in Trumpeter's usual style, meaning there are some panels that stick out considerably and recessed rivets throughout. The real aircraft had most of it's rivets raised. For the most part they are placed correctly. I noticed some protruding rivets, this adds to the level of realism. They are however only present on the fuselage/wing joint. It would have been nice if they would have included them throughout the aircraft.
I compared the published dimension of the real aircraft to the model, and the Trumpeters kit comes quite close. The small differences would come out to a couple of scale inches in some area. In other words, even for a self admitted rivet counter like myself, there is nothing to worry about.
There are some areas that when compared to published photos, one can see small outline errors. Most of these are located in the tail section. The rudder and elevators shape where not quite captured in the kit. These can easily be fixed by sanding them to the right contour. Another area that needs attention is a specific panel just ahead and below the cockpit. There is supposed to be an opening between the panels.
This opening should be widened a tad and hollowed out to correctly represent this important detail.
The wing tips are also misshapen, they are to square and should be rounded a bit more. This will require the addition of plastic stock and some sanding to bring back to it's proper shape.
These are the only shape errors that I've found with this kit. The rest is as per Trumpeter's usual molding.
Starting with the cockpit, the interior area has quite a large number of parts, some details are either missing or simply wrong. Judging from the parts layout, I assume Trumpeter included the same cockpit on both kits. The TBF-1C has the correctly shaped instrument panel but the number of instruments seem to be wrong. The information I have show the instrument panel has 15 dials, the kit has 18 (?) The seat does not have the arm rests, these will need to be added by the modeler. The side walls seem correct but the level of detail is somewhat simplified and seems out of place with a kit of this scale. Considering the size of the kit and the greenhouse canopy, some extra detailing will add a lot to the overall look of the model. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the radio installation behind the pilot but it would seem correct. The bombardier's compartment is also in need of extra detailing and corrections if you leave the access door open. The bomber's electrical panel does not protrude enough. The radio equipment looks odd and does not match the period photos. The Norden bombsight is not included. There is a lot of cables and the heating duct that can be included to further enhance this area. The gunner's turret is very nicely detailed but again, some of the more subtle details are missing. The oval frames on the side of the turret are to big when compared to photos. This will be difficult to correct unless the modeler has good dexterity with clear parts. Trumpeter forgot to include the curved "N" shaped frame forward of the turret. This will need to built from scratch using the photos provided.
The engine is the real gem in this kit. It is nicely detailed and complete needing only the wiring harness to be added. The cylinders are nicely detailed and the exhaust stacks have a good diameter unlike their earlier Corsair kit. The area behind the engine is also detailed showing the engine mount and oil tank. If one wishes to open the hatches to reveal this area, then extra detail will need to be added as it will look somewhat empty if left as is. The cowling flaps are molded separately but unfortunately they are quite thick and best replaced with plastic sheet.
The bomb bay is pretty accurate as is but the more adventurous modeler may want to include the various cables and wiring that run through here to add realism. Photo etched parts are included to detail the bomb bay doors, a nice feature!
Another nice feature of the kit is the inclusion of a nice selection of payloads the plane could carry: 500lbs bombs, torpedo or auxiliary fuel tank! They can be installed with their own separate pylons. Also included is 8 rockets to be fitted under the wings as well as auxiliary fuel tanks or extra bombs.
The landing gear seams to be quite nice needing only the brake lines to be added. Trumpeter has included rubber tires as usual. The rims really look good as offered. The wheel wells are as they should be, quite sparse in detail but the modeler can add a little extra plumbing to bring it up a tad. The tail wheel is also very nice.
The wings, as shown in the instructions, are movable to their folding position. Someone on a discussion forum mentioned they are quite sturdy and will tolerate manipulation back and forth. Personally, I do not like these types of features and prefer to display my models with the wings fixed in either position. The wing fold details are nicely represented needing only the hydraulic lines to be added. Parts for the wing folds are included in photo-etched. Another feature on the kit is the possibility to display the model with lowered flaps. The fabric covered areas on the rudder and ailerons are better represented than on their earlier efforts but may still require some attention.
The photo-etched frets include parts for the now famous Trumpeter hinge system for the movable parts such as ailerons and rudder. A second larger fret etched in brass includes other items such as seat belts, intake grilles for the cowling, interior of bomb bay doors and flaps.
Decals include markings for two aircraft. The first, a North Atlantic scheme for aircraft 21 of VC-42 aboard the USS Bogue during spring 1944. The second is for an aircraft of VT 2 aboard the USS Hornet carrying number 95 during the summer of 1944. Many servicing stencils are also included. They are thin and in register and the colors look good.
It may seem as though I have many negative observations on this kit, but I don't. They are only observations to help you better understand what you are getting ready to buy. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best Trumpeter kit in this scale. Even though this kit is not yet up yet to standards with Tamiya or Hasegawa, they have shown us that they can deliver the goods and play with the big boys. It is clearly an improvement over all their others kits. The shapes are correct and the details acceptable for the majority. For those wishing to add extra details, you can add them yourself with minimal effort or you can wait for resin replacements if you wish. The only thing I would replace are the wheels, the rest I can do myself. With a little effort and time, this kit can be a real show stopper. Do yourself a favor and buy this kit, you will not regret it. The final verdict: Highly recommended!
- Koku Fan: Famous Airplanes of the World, number 42. TBF/TBM Avenger
- Squadron Publications: TBM/TBF Avenger in action
- Squadron Publications: Aerodata International, U.S. Navy Carrier Bombers of World War II
- Squadron Publications: Walkaround no. 25, TBF/TBM Avenger
- Detail and Scale, vol. 53. TBF & TBM Avenger
- Aries Publications, Warbird Profile no. 2. TBF/TBM Avenger
- Also used photos and parts of the Technical Manuals as well as various magazine articles collected over the years.
Kit is courtesy of Stevens International.
© Francis Gallemi 2005
This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016