MPC/Airfix 1/72 TBD-1 Devastator

Kit Number: 4111 

Price: $4.00

Media: Injected Plastic

Decals : One version, Pre war USN

Date of Review: 4 May, 1996

Comments: The TBD Devastator's one claim to fame is that an entire squadron of them was decimated during the Battle of Midway with only one man surviving.  Only devastating to the men that flew it!!  To me, its other claim to fame is that it was the star of a 1940 color movie starring Errol Flynn called 'Dive Bomber' that was filmed at NAS North Island, a base where I spent 12 of my 22 years of  naval service.

Airfix's kit is a bit long in the tooth, but it is the only 1/72 kit of the aircraft.  This aircraft is a good candidate for Hasegawa to build a decent version.  Actually, it is pretty accurate, even with the golf ball sized rivets.  If you desire, you can sand down most of these for a more realistic kit.  You can also build the kit with the wings folded.  This is a viable option, as building it with the wings down means that you will have to sand out the corrugated wing detail  when filling the inevitable gap and then try to redo the corrugations that you just trashed.  I built this one wings up.  It also helps when displaying it saves on shelf space.  While there is minimal wingfold detail, there is room for proper detailing if you are insistent.  

Generally speaking the kit is pretty easy to build.  The interior is sparse, but complete and you have the option of a torpedo equipped version, or the torpedo brackets can be replaced with a flat panel that holds 100 lb bombs. I built my version with the torpedo carrier, but without the torpedo.  Once the cockpit is built and installed, the fuselage presents no real problems with very good fit and just a touch of filler.  The wings come in inner and outer sections to accommodate the folding wing options.  One of the biggest challenges is ensuring that the corrugation continues between the top and bottom wing.  Judicious use of a file will help.  The inner sections are a problem fit and do require careful fitment and then putty and sanding to look right.  This section also incorporates the landing gear.  The gear is also a bit sparse and lacking in much detail, but good for being over 25 years old!  The canopy is thick but fits well and has well-defined panels, which is good as there are many panels that need masked.  I left off the outer wing panels until after the kit was completed and painted.

The prewar colors of the USN were undoubtedly among the most colorful of any that can be modeled.  The aluminum fuselage, bright yellow wing upper surfaces and colored tail sections also require careful masking during painting.  The upper wing yellow on these aircraft wraps around a bit to the undersurface so this area needs careful masking.  A job not made any easier because of the corrugated finish.  Since the MPC decals are notorious for being junk, I used an appropriate Microscale decal sheet when building this version.  Another nice thing about pre-war USN aircraft is that they were well taken care of so having a nice, clean, glossy aircraft is normal.  No hassles with weathering!!

This kit is not difficult to build, but with the folding wings and the corrugated surfaces, it is not one for the raw beginner.

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