Imodeler at the Movies “Victory at Sea” TBM-1C Avenger flown by Lt. Robert Cosgrove 05 November, 1944
When David @dirtylittlefokker
mentioned the “Imodeler at the Movies” group build, I was thinking about several different subjects that would fit. This particular plane is one that I have been wanting to build for many years now… and now that it is completed, I can scratch it off my “bucket list”.
I started a Sherman tank from the movie “FURY”, but ran out of time for various reasons…(namely too many projects going on at once). Then there was a F9F-5 Panther jet from the movie “The Bridges of Toko-Ri”, It would have been completed, but at the very last minute I ran into big time problems when spraying the overall Glossy Sea Blue. That painting mistake caused me to completely strip all of the paint off the plane and start all over again.
and this plane you see here… that I managed to complete on time.
It’s an Eastern built TBM-1C Avenger that was assigned to the USS Essex. Robert Cosgrove can be seen with his crew in this next photo. He is the man standing in the middle.
On this particular day, this Avenger was badly hit by anti aircraft fire. One round exploded inside the turret. The turret gunner, Lloyce Dean, was killed instantly. The explosion (or impact of the round) literally decapitated Dean. Here you can see the plane on its way back to the Essex after the raid on Manila Harbor. Dean is inside the turret, but sadly he is dead. The skill of the pilot, and the grace of God allowed the men to return to the USS Essex after receiving a lot of battle damage.
This tragic event was filmed by war wartime camera men. What happened next was something that will hopefully never have to happen again…and is more than likely the only time something like this had ever happened…before or since. A dead crewman was buried at sea in his aircraft on purpose.
These series of photos were taken from the original television series that was called “Victory at Sea”. It was also aired several times on the Military History Channel. Every since I first saw this on television, I have wanted to build a tribute model for the brave men who were there on that fateful day over 75 years ago.
The radio man Digby Denzek (who also happened to be a very close friend of Lloyce Dean’s) was sitting beneath the turret inside the Avenger. He was manning the “Stinger gun” located under the turret just behind the weapons bay. He asked the pilot, Bob Cosgrove, for permission to leave his duty station. When asked why, he reported to the pilot that Dean had been hit, and hit very badly. Denzek reported to Lt. Cosgrove that blood and teeth were raining down upon him… The horrors of War.
The plane was successfully landed on the deck of the Essex. As it was taxiing to the park position, the pilot folded the wings. Here you can see how badly the turret was damaged. The force from the explosion was big enough to bend the barrel of the .050 caliber machine gun that was mounted inside Dean’s turret.
Here in this next picture you can see the extensive damage to the turret. Dean is still inside, and now the wings are almost completely folded,
It was reported that once the ground crews saw the carnage inside the turret, one of the men became sick and vomited. Here they are getting Lloyce Dean’s fingerprints so that he can be positively identified. They have draped a canvas tarp over him to give the man a little dignity.
I tried to capture this photo angle with my model. I wanted it to look as it did just before it was loaded with munitions on it’s last flight.
This next photo shows the plane as it was being towed to the fantail of the Aircraft Carrier USS Essex. The turret gunner Lloyce Dean was left inside for burial at sea inside his plane.
This would be the first time that an Enlisted Man was purposefully left in the aircraft and buried at sea. In these next photos, you can see the personnel have been gathered for a brief funeral service. The pilot Lt. Robert Cosgrove can be seen looking directly into the camera.
Once the funeral service was completed, the Avenger was pushed overboard. Deen was still inside the plane.
I believe the service was cut short because the Essex received a warning that the Japanese may have an incoming air attack headed their way. This was a very low hour Avenger, but it was determined to be best to simply push it overboard, and they didn’t have any time to strip any salvageable parts from it. It’s possible that a few small parts were scavenged from the plane before it was pushed overboard.
There are a few modifications I did. The most visible one is adding the rocket rails to the underside of the wings. These were taken from several 1/48 scale Hasegawa F6F-5 Hellcat models. This particular Avenger had 8 rocket rails, 4 located under each wing. The other modification I did was simply adding two radio altimeter antennae’s to the underside of each wing. These items were “borrowed” from a Tamiya F4U-1 Corsair.
The Accurate Miniature Avenger has a nicely detailed weapons bay. It could carry a variety of things, from a single torpedo, to depth charges, to various bomb loads. I chose to leave mine empty as it would have looked prior to loading for the last mission.
The rest of the airplane is well detailed right out of the box. Here you can see the cockpit.
The rear turret where Lloyce Dean was killed.
A top side plan view:
and the same view, but from underneath.
The remaining photos show you how the rest of the plane would have looked prior to the last mission…
A build log can be seen by following this link. It also has several links to various websites that go into more details on what happened on that fateful day.
As always, comments are encouraged.
20 additional images. Click to enlarge.