KIT: Monogram 1/48 TBD-1 Devastator
KIT #: 7575
PRICE: Around $10-15
DECALS: See review
REVIEWER: Wayne Hui
NOTES: S

HISTORY

None provided

THE KIT

The Monogram Devastator (Kit 7575) was first produced and released in the mid 1970s. This release was touted by Scale Modeler magazine as one of Monogram's finest offering at the time. The kit is molded in a light grey styrene and flash free. Panel lines are the raised type with raised rivet details. The kit is exacting in details such as the wing root detail and the corrugated wing areas. The cockpit interior is provided with the basic details, and if no additional details are added it basically captures the look of a Devastator cockpit. It is an outstanding model from the 70s. Details included are: foldable wings, rotatable rear gunner seat, opened access panels to gun bay and hand crank step platform, and bombardier sighting compartment located beneath the pilot's floor complete with sighting window. Armament options provided are a Bliss-Leavitt Mk XIII torpedo and some bombs.

 The kit used in building this model is an original release from 1979.  

CONSTRUCTION

 Dry fitting was performed on the parts prior to assembly to assess the challenge that was to come. The fit is generally good. The only exceptions are the wing to fuselage and stabilizer to fuselage joints. The wing joint is particularly bad as it needed shimming with styrene sheets.

 The kit is upgraded and brought up to today's standard by rescribing the panel lines.  On this model, I tried out a tool lend to me by my fellow GOMBs modeler to simulate rivets. I simulated the rivets on the fuselage with recessed detail by using a tanner's pin wheel. I first draw out the center lines of each roll of rivets. Then I roll the pin wheel along these lines. Any indentations that are not deep enough, I enhanced them with a #80 drill bit.

 Using the fine photos from Lynn Ritger's TBD site at http://tbd_devastator.tripod.com/, I scratch built the most noticeable details in the cockpit. Details such as: the throttle quadrant, pilot consol handles and levers, CO2 bottle, fire extinguisher, pilot seat height adjustment winch, canopy open/close cranks, torpedo sighting gears on top of the instrument panel dash, etc. were all scratch built. See photos above of the unpainted cockpit. A set of WWII US Navy resin seats from True Details was used to replace the kit seats.

 The perforated floor plates under the pilot were added using styrene sheets. The bombardier compartment under the cockpit floor is hard to see. Hence I only added detailed for the arm rests and adjacent ribbings. Sad to say, after the fuselage is assembled this area is just barely visible. Now, I understand why Monogram chooses not to detail this area.

 One of the major (and very noticeable) attractions of a navy bomber is the rear gunner compartment. The kit molded the chair and the ring type gun mount for the Browning 0.30 caliber machine gun as one piece. As such, the ring type gun mount is just a blob of plastic and do not show the beautiful lightening holes on the ring mount and no details for the sliding gun mount itself. I supplemented this by cutting off the ring "blob" and scratch built the ring and sliding gun mount using styrene sheet. See picture above.

 The wing folding gear and locking mechanisms are not provided by Monogram. Again, this is another area where it is very visible and required some attention to. Using photo references from the Squadron book, I scratch built the locking tabs, mounts, and locking pin assembly using styrene sheets. The locking pin mechanism was made from a styrene rod and wrapped with stretched styrene “thread”. The other weak area of the wing fold from the kit is the bad joint between the wing rib and the top and bottom wing panels. You can’t sand or use putty here because you will loose all the molded details there. The salvation is to use a strip of stretched styrene “thread” to simulate the rubber wing seal on the real aircraft. This worked out really well. 

The pitot tube that came with the kit is not an accurate depiction. I made a corrected three prong pitot tube assembly from stretched styrene rods (see lead photo). Later, I added the air temperature gauge commonly seen in photos of TBDs.

 The Browning .30 caliber tail gun provided by the kit is a good representation, however more details are required. To detail the gun, I built the magazine holder out of 0.1mm styrene sheet. Gun sight is made from stretched styrene kit tree and carefully glued to the barrel with liquid cement. The kit's machine gun grip handle was represented by just a blob. I cut off this blob and replaced it with a styrene handle craved from left over styrene.

 Wing fold mechanism is also scratch built from styrene sheets and shaped as per the reference photos in the Squadron Publication reference book. The locking pins were made from brass wire and attached with cyno glue.

 The Bliss-Leavitt Mk XIII airborne torpedo that came with the kit has a very simple tail assembly, and the counter rotating screws is not well represented at all. To improve on this, I used an out of production KMC Mk 13 torpedo I happened to picked up from Uncle Bills Hobby Shop. Good news is that Squadron has released the same set under their True Detail brand name.

 When both fish is compared side by side, the Monogram fish is longer than the KMC version. The overall length of a Bliss-Leavitt Mk XIII is stated as 13'-5" from two sources on the web. Hence, in 48th scale, 13.42 ft is 3.36". The KMC torpedo's oveall length measures 3.25" long. Measurements aside, when I eyeball the shape and relative size of the model torpedo against the real thing on the photo below, it appeared that the KMC one is correct.

  The KMC resin torpedo is beautifully done with recessed details. The screws are delicately cast It is so fragile to cut them out of the pour stub and protective ring such that they provided 2 sets just in case you break one. I am glad they did because I did break one of them.

Wing to Fuselage Joint

 The top wing to fuselage joint was very bad on my kit. To avoid using putty, a shimming strip was cut from a styrene sheet and custom fitted to close any gaps at these joints prior to gluing the wing to the fuselage. In this manner, I obtain a perfect joint without any putty filler.

 Landing lights

 The TBD has a big landing light right on the port wing leading edge. I can not find any reference photo that shows this in sufficient clarity. Hence, I "eyeballed" it as best as I can. On the kit, the mounting for the light is not crisp and if I do not do any improvement to it, the light would not mount well and a very noticeable gap would show. Hence, I cut off what's there for the mounting and created a better one using a piece from a styrene tube to fit a new light from a rail road MV lens. This worked out very well and is a major improvement.

COLORS & MARKINGS

 PAINTING:

 The aircraft I am doing is a pre-war Devastator 5-T-7 (Section Leader) from VT-5 assigned to the USS Yorktown (CV-5). Photos of this aircraft are available in the Squadron reference book and it is also illustrated in color on the back of the book.

 Navy aircraft of this era is often referred to as the Golden Wings, and rightly so as the wings are painted in bright yellow. The standard pre-war color for a TBD from this time period is all interior wheel wells, flap detail, underside of wings, fuselage, landing gear strut, etc. were painted in silver lacquer. Seat belt is a standard off white for the fabric seat belts. Instrument panel is black with black gauges.

 The standard pre-war color for a TBD from this time period is all interior wheel wells, flap detail, underside of wings, fuselage, landing gear strut, etc. were painted in silver lacquer. Seat belt is a standard off white for the fabric seat belts. Instrument panel is black with black gauges.

 Reference photos show the Bliss-Leavitt Mk XIII airborne torpedo in the pre-war years in a shiny steel colour with a light grey colour head. To simulate this, the resin torpedo was painted with a Krylon gloss black primer that I picked up in a Canadian Tire store. When dried, a coat of Alcad II Dark Aluminum was sprayed on. The torpedo head was painted with Gunze H325 grey.

 On the pre-war Devastators, the aircrafts were painted with a silver lacquer. To simulate this, I used Alcad II Aluminum. Alclad is used because the silver finish must be able to withstand lots of taping. The model is prep with Alcad's grey primer paint. The primer did not require any thinning and was easy to spray. After 2 hours drying time, I wet sanded the surfaces where the silver paint would go to ensure the surfaces are still smooth. Two coats of Alcad Aluminum were applied at 20 psig without a hitch. Alclad is such an easy paint to apply and to get great results.

 With the masking still on, I sprayed all the color surfaces with one coat of Future. To retain the beautiful metal finish I did not applied any Future clear coat over the Alcad.

 The green house canopies were masked off with strips of Magic tape. I masked all the vertical frames first and spray painted with Alcald. When dried, I removed the tapes and mask all the horizontal frames and complete the painting. This approach for green house type canopies will result in clean results each time.

 DECAL:

 The new Yellow-Wings decal sheet No. 48-006 was used instead of taking a chance by using the kit decals. The decals are very thin and go on fantastic. The colours are opaque and any undercolor does not show through. The decals settled in nicely with Mr. Mark Softer decal solution.

 Yellow-Wings claimed they did a lot of research to get things right, however, I think they have made 2 mistakes. First, the "E" for excellence has the wrong shadow direction; the decal sheet has the shadow leaning towards the right hand side whereas on reference photos the shadows are towards the left. Second, the VT-5's squadron badge decal had a dark red background. Based on reference photos, the background should be much lighter in colour so that the horse and rider shows up clearly. To fix this, I hand painted the background using a light pink colour. Some books show it as a yellow background but the Squadron book shows it as pink. Now, who do you believe? But for sure, Yellow-Wings background is too dark.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

 The aerials were made from 10 lb fishing lines. I first glue them to the model first and then paint them dark grey. 

An MV lens was used for the landing light on the port wing leading edge. The use of a rail road lens made all the difference in the world when compared to just using the clear part from the kit.

 After attaching the torpedo onto the belly of the plane, I made two tie straps out of stretched spruce. Mounting holes were drilled onto the bomb racks to facilitate the attachment of these straps. Straps were painted gun metal.

CONCLUSIONS

 This has been a very satisfying built of a historic aircraft from the pre-war years.  The Monogram kit is an old kit, but with a little care and attention, it came out shinning and can stand proudly next to other models from the recent super engineered kits.  This kit also enable me to do more scratch building, tried out new tools for making rivets on a model and used the fantastic Alcad II paint system.  This kit is highly recommended.

 To see more photos of this model, go to www.Modelart.ca

September 2004

REFERENCES

 Squadron/signal Publications #97, TBD Devastator in Action

 Lynn Ritger's TBD site at http://tbd_devastator.tripod.com/

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly by a site that has over 250,000 visitors a month, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page