TBM-3S2 Avenger J.M.S.D.F.
The Grumman TBF Avenger was designed as a torpedo bomber to replace the TBD Devastator. The Devastator had been one of the first modern torpedo bombers for the US Navy but it was lacking is speed, firepower and armor protection. The Avenger entered production in 1942 and soon proved itself to be the perfect fit for the job. To meet production demands, General Motors’ Eastern Aircraft Division started production and eventually produced the majority of all Avengers. These were designated TBM.
Late in its production life, the Avenger was modified for anti-submarine warfare. Some of these featured an AN/APS-4 radar pod under the starboard wing and a searchlight pod under the port wing. In some cases, the rear turret was removed and the radar operator was housed in an extended rear canopy.
In the pacific, the Avenger made its reputation against the Japanese. During its time in service, the Avenger contributed to the sinking of twelve of nineteen Japanese carriers, six of eleven battleships, nineteen of forty-one cruisers, twenty-five destroyers and scores of smaller craft.
It was ironic then that when the Japanese armed forces were re-established in 1954, twenty Avengers were a part of the initial equipment for the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force for anti-submarine duties.
This is the standard Hasegawa TBM-3 kit with a number of additional resin items to convert it to the Japanese ASW version. The instructions direct the modeler to modify the kit by removing the aft portion of the main canopy, to remove a portion of the fuselage around the rear turret position and to drill mounting holes for the radar, the searchlight, the tail hook and other minor items. The directions neglected to direct the modeler to remove the rear part of the cockpit tub so that the new resin ASW position can be mounted (note aircraft fuselage photo).
The standard kit went together well. I removed the molded-in exhausts in order to use a Quickboost part that I had previously reviewed. It added to the final appearance of the model.
The kit allowed the torpedo doors to be closed or open, allowing the torpedo to be shown. I chose to display the doors closed because I was not sure that the Japanese aircraft used torpedoes. The only problem that I had with the kit was with the clear resin parts for the rear ventral gun position and for the rear of the canopy. These parts required a lot of sanding and fitting to get them into the correct position. The rear part of the canopy was a particular problem. It had to fit into an area between two modified parts. I glued the canopy in place twice before I was satisfied. I eventually noted that the thickness of the resin part kept it from seating correctly. The modeler needs to thin the edges of the rear canopy and even remove some material from the radar operator position to make the part fit acceptably well. I was also disappointed in the resin exterior stores mounts. One is used for the radar pod and the other is empty. I believe that these should have been carved out in the center but I thought that the parts were too fragile to be corrected.
Painting and Decals
These Japanese Avengers were painted in Gull Gray upper-surfaces and White under-surfaces, ailerons, elevators and rudder. The unit marking consists of a bright yellow flash on the tail. Large black individual numbers are on the nose. The decals provide markings for four aircraft, differing only by the nose number. The decals applied easily and conformed to the surfaces. I painted the model with glossy colors and applied some future over the decals. I then used Jeff Herne’s Warpigs Washes to bring out the panel and control surface lines. Photos of the real aircraft show them to be kind of grungy looking so I didn’t clean the surfaces completely. I finished the model with a coat of clear flat acrylic. I believe that a final flat or semi-gloss coat on models this small make them look less like a toy.
I was pleased with the final appearance of the kit. It was easy to build except for the rear canopy but thinning the edges of the part will greatly improve the ease of build. I would like to thank Hobbico for providing this kit and IPMS/USA for letting me build this model. I love models with unique markings and this kit meets that need. Recommended for most modelers with the reservation on the clear resin rear canopy.
- TBF & TBM Avenger. Detail & Scale Volume 53 by Bert Kinzey
- TBM/TBF Avenger in Action. Aircraft Number 82 by Charles L. Scrivner and Don Greer
- TBF/TBM Avenger. Koku Fan Famous Aircraft of the World no. 42, October 1973