Great Wall Hobby 1/48 TBD-1 Devastator

KIT #: L4807
DECALS: Two Options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New tool kit with photo etch brass frets.


The Douglas TBD Devastator was a torpedo bomber of the United States Navy, ordered in 1934, first flying in 1935 and entering service in 1937. At that point, it was the most advanced aircraft flying for the USN and possibly for any navy in the world. However, the fast pace of aircraft development caught up with it, and by the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the TBD was already outdated. It performed well in some early battles, but in the Battle of Midway the Devastators launched against the Japanese fleet were almost totally wiped out. The type was immediately withdrawn from front line service, replaced by the Grumman TBF Avenger.


I am sure that many have already read something on this kit and seen test shots. This is the production kit, complete with all the usual bits that Great Wall Hobby includes in their aircraft kits. In addition to the superbly molded sprues, the kit includes a complete set of canopy masks as well as two  photo etch frets.

Much of the surface detailing is finely engraved panel lines. The corrugated flight surfaces are duplicated by raised lines and this feature will probably cause the most headache when it comes to building the kit. It is pretty well a given that many of us will end up sanding the wing and tailplane seams so replacing these raised lines will be difficult. They are also not all that convincing for corrugations, which should have both rounded peaks and valleys. However, when one does a model, one often has to make allowances for the machining and it does provide a good representation.

The interior is excellent with a lot of well done detail on both the floor and the various panels. The insides of the fuselage provide stringer detailing to which a number of parts are added. Quite a bit of the photo etch is used for the interior, including the harnesses for the crew members. I liked that the instrument dials were provided as separate decals, though perhaps some would prefer to have these all as one decal.

The Devastator could also be used as a level bomber and for that, there is a door in the lower front fuselage that can be opened to provide the pilot with a view down when performing this mission. This area is made up almost entirely of photo etch, and that is what you will find on the smaller fret. Since the doors for this area are closed during the torpedo mission, it is up to the builder as to whether it will be worth building up this area. It can be posed open if one wishes. The kit does include the fuselage bomb racks, but no bombs. Also provided is the smooth plate for the underside of the fuselage when it was used as a level bomber.

However, this is a Midway boxing so a torpedo insert is what most of you will be using. The kit includes a nicely done torpedo. The main body of this is molded in four pieces; two front and two rear to which fins are attached. One has the option of having a large boxed structure attached to these fins, but I do not believe that was used at Midway.

Another option is to have folded wings. For this, a pair of metal hinges are provided. There is good rib detail and some of the photo etch is used here. You may have noticed that the mask set is rather large. Well Great Wall provided both a one-piece and multiple-section canopy. One set of masks is for each set of canopies. A very nice addition to the mask set are masks to do the insignia. This is a very nice option and with simple insignia such as used at the time, should be easy to do. Simply paint the area for the insignia white, put down the star mask, paint the area insignia blue and put down the circle. The kit also includes twin rear machine guns, a set up only used at Midway. No single gun option is provided so the builder is pretty well stuck with a Midway bird. Separate flaps are also part of the kit. However, these are shown molded closed and a good thing as there are a multitude of ejector pin marks on the inside of the flap, made difficult to remove thanks to the framework detail provided there. Two more items are flattened tires and optional open or closed cowl flaps.

Instructions are superb and in booklet form. Great Wall have included color information during the build using Gunze, Vallejo, and Tamiya paint references. Markings are for two VT-8 planes from the USS Hornet. One is the box art plane of the unit's only survivor, Ens. George Gay while the other is the unit commander, LCDR John Waldron. Both are in Blue-Grey over Light Grey. The decals are very nicely printed and thanks to the design of the corrugations, should not be difficult to get to settle down on the wings.


This is a very nice kit and a good replacement for the venerable Monogram kit. I am sure that there will be at least two more boxings for this with one being a red and white rudder version and another taking care of the yellow wings crowd.


January 2012

Thanks to Great Wall Hobby for the preview kit. Get yours at your local shop once they show up.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly , please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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