|KIT:||Italeri 1/48 TBF/TBM-1 Avenger|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Reboxed Accurate Miniatures kit|
Among the Grumman Company's
outstanding contributions to naval aviation, the Avenger perhaps holds the
honor of being the most versatile. It was in squadron from March 1942 until
October 1954, a shorter time than some other aircraft, but during those
years it served as a torpedo bomber, an ASW aircraft, and the Navy's first
carrier-based AEW plane; there was also a modification for night
operations, one for radar countermeasures, and another for Carrier Onboard
The contract of 8 April 1940 which the Navy awarded to Grumman was for the company's first attack aircraft. Until that time, Grumman's work for the Navy had been entirely with fighters. The first flight of the mid-wing monoplane, three-place, torpedo bomber occurred on 7 August 1941. During the Second World War, the Avenger was produced by Grumman as the TBF and by the Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors as the TBM. Grumman produced a total of 2,290 aircraft, Eastern produced 7,546 aircraft. The last delivery to the Navy was made in September 1945.
The TBF-1 could carry up to 2,000 pounds of torpedoes or bombs in the bomb bay. It had a dorsal turret with a .50 caliber gun at the after end of the cockpit, a forward-firing .30 caliber gun at the nose cowling and another .30 caliber gun located ventrally facing aft. The TBF-1 was powered by a single 1700 horsepower Wright R-2600-8 engine. This aircraft was supplanted on the production line by the upgraded TBM-3, a type that was modified for a variety of tasks and lasted in the world's military force well into the 1950s. The -1 version quickly disappeared, mostly to scrap yards with the completion of the war.
OK, now I'm pretty sure this is a reboxing of the Accurate Miniatures Avenger kit. The detail level is such that it really could be from no other source. This is quite understandable. Often times companies will increase their bottom line by leasing molds to other companies for a production run and Italeri is well known for doing this to produce what is to them, a 'new' kit.
Since this kit is so well known, I'm going to take the chicken way out and not bother with a photo of the sprues. There are at least three full build reviews of this kit on the website and I know there will be more so you can visit those for a look-see at how this turns out.
The Italeri instructions look very much like the old accurate miniature ones and if that is so, one really has to follow the directions closely to get good results. AM kits are not toss-together deals and really do need the modeler to pay attention. The only options I saw were bombs or torpedoes in the weapons bay. On the wing there is a radar pod that can be mounted for one version.
The instructions are top notch, though being designed for an international market, are missing the little hints and tips offered in the AM instructions. Colors are, once again, generic, FS 595 and Testors. What is really impressive on this kit are the markings options. There are six of them. four of the aircraft are in the tri-color scheme used by the US Navy. The fifth one is the standard Fleet Air Arm colors of Dark Sea Grey/Dark Slate Grey over Sky.
In addition to the FAA Tarpon (which does include the bulged side windows), there is a very nice one from the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 1944, one from the USS Natoma Bay in early 1944, one from the USS Mission Bay in late 1943, the radar equipped one from the USS San Jacinto in mid 1944, and an Atlantic scheme painted aircraft from the USS Block Island in early 1944. I do find it a bit frustrating that no unit is given for each of these aircraft. Surely that can't be that difficult to research.
The huge decal sheet is very well printed and relatively matte. The sheet also provides seat belt decals. I know that several folks don't like these but I think they improve the look of things without having to resort to aftermarket.
Late Note: I have been told that the blue for the New Zealand markings is too light and needs to be considerably darker to be accurate. The fix to this is the long out of production Aeromaster RNZAF set if you happen to be lucky enough to have it.
So there you are. A reboxing of a great kit and with a really neat decal sheet offering all sorts of options. What more could you ask. If you missed getting an AM Avenger, you now have the opportunity, thanks to the folks at Italeri.
Thanks to for the review kit. You can find Italeri kits at your favorite hobby shop or on-line at www.testors.com
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