GWH 1/48 TBD-1A Devastator Floatplane

KIT #: L4812
PRICE: $90.00 SRP
DECALS: One Option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Includes photo etch brass fret and canopy masks.


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of aircraft development caught up with it, and by the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the TBD was already outdated.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 The type was immediately withdrawn from front line service, replaced by the Grumman TBF Avenger. To be honest, the TBF was not all that successful in the beginning. This was mostly due to the rather ineffective US torpedo. All known extant TBDs are in the ocean; none survived past 1944 on dry land. There was a single TBD-1A built as a floatplane version, but the addition of the floats made the plane even slower so the experiment was terminated and none entered service.


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.

This is the float plane version so as you might expect there is an additional sprue for the quite large floats. I expect they are Edo floats and as such, have beaching gear that attaches to the side of them as in the Kingfisher. GWH also molded the lower wing with no wheel wells and there are no wheels or landing gear included on the sprues. Rear armament reverts to a single .30 cal gun, and I'd bet that for most of the life of this aircraft, no gun or torpedo was actually carried, but they are provided.

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. As with the earlier release, you get insignia masks, however, these are not germane to this kit so simply use the decals.  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. You also get 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 the single aircraft which is in the yellow wings scheme of aluminum and orange-yellow. Interestingly, the large code letters are only for one side of the fuselage. No bands or cowling colors to concern yourself with.


This is a very nice kit and while a rather unusual option, does provide GWH to kit another Devastator. Float plane fans will be very pleased with this one.


September 2013

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