Accurate Miniatures' 1/48 TBF-1 & TBM-3
Accurate Miniatures' Avenger has been credited as the best 1/48
kit ever in many forums for good reasons. And, considerable material
has been published on the topic to match its class. So, why do I
bother to raise the issue again? For a very simple reason. Many of
my childhood memories evolved around aviation. Amongst them was
frequent visits to scrapped crop-dusting Avengers in a then small
airfield. I could sit for hours in the sun-baked cockpits while my father
was giving flying lessons in airworthy aircraft. I have
memories of feeling the controls,
flying over treacherous seas and meticulously avoiding the red
undercarriage retracting handle.
For a subject such as this, I'd rather build more than one model as it allows me for better exploration of the aircraft and to present it in a manner that feels complete.
Cutting the plastic
The first Avenger I built matches my current impression of old memories. I used the superb KMC wingfold kit and a Verlinden engine. The model was first coated with a metal aluminum paint followed by acrylic paints, which are easy to scratch and weather. Then came along the revelation that what is important about this kit is not what comes out but actually building it. AM's engineering leaves very little room for improvement in terms of filling, twisting and modifying the components. The following came along albeit the poor variety of optional colour schemes.
The blue navy TBM has a matt coat although these aircraft were originally painted in Specular Blue. After consulting the references, I had the impression that although the weathering of these aircraft was minimal, the salty conditions probably reduced the glossiness of the fresh paint in no time.
In all the Avengers that I built, I modified the exhaust openings and reduced the thickness of the pipe. I also opened oleo struts in the main and rear undercarriages. The instrument panel did not match the quality of the rest of the components, but could be barely seen when installed, so I did not use aftermarket accessories and settled only for scratchbuilt seatbelts.
Bottom line, for $15-20 at EBay, you get a bargain model that gives you hours of pleasure without needing to elaborate with additional products.
The TBF of USS Bouge is a class of its own sporting the attractive Atlantic camouflage scheme. White goes well with dark grey and deceives the eye from any apparent blemishes.
Going along the same concept, I completed two Royal Navy Tarpons. Since TBF kits are much harder to get, I allowed myself to utilize the ubiquous TBM type kit thinking that maybe the references are wrong and those two models that I completed were in fact Tarpon III type. In any case, the differences are minimal and center around the engine cowling shape. I gave the HMS Queen aircraft additional weathering treatment that consisted of diluted black oil paint washes on the bottom parts of the model.
The other Tarpon of late 1945 Coastal Command 711 Squadron received Aeromaster decals. (Oops, I had to spend some money above the kit price.)
In all, although the displayed Avenger may not have the attraction and presence of some other models (say a Swordfish), it lets your fingers walk along a sophisticated and enchanted process of model building.