Trumpeter 1/32 TBM-3 VMTB-132 USS Cape Gloucester Okinawa 1945
I became a big fan of the Avenger after seeing the movie: "On a Wing and Prayer" with Don Ameche, Dana Andrews, Richard Jaeckle and others. The movie was filmed aboard the USS Yorktown CV-10 during it's shakedown cruise in about 1943 or so and focuses on a TBM Squadron, their CO (Andrews) and relationship to the Carrier Air Boss (Ameche) who plays a no nonsense, tough Air Boss. One of the best wartime Navy Flics to come out in my opinion. To add to this interest in the aircraft, I received the Monogram 1/48 kit of it as a Christmas present during one of our school Christmas Gift Exchanges in about 1958 or 1959. I was pumped.
Fast Forward to 2005. I had returned from a deployment in Africa to Camp Lejeune North Carolina. In Jacksonville there is the Hobby Chest Hobby Shop, and I ordered the Trumpeter 1/32nd Avenger kit. When I got back to my room and opened the box, I knew I was in for a challenge. I had built several of the Accurate Miniature kits and felt that this would be no different. Overwhelmed I ended up re-selling it. Now, 2022 I felt I had the "Hutzpah" to build it. I came across an image of a restored Avenger in the markings of VMTB-132. I think it's at Miramar, but I could be mistaken. Having finished the Tamiya 1/32nd Corsair (Image attached) in the same markings, I wanted to do my model in those same markings. I found a set of Montex Masks for that particular marking in the Hannants catalog and ordered it. I veered from the restored version in that I painted the Cowling Yellow, like the one I had seen in images and videos of a restored TBM in Switzerland, and thought it added a "dash" of color to the front, as seen on the image of the one in Switzerland. After all, it's my model.
The instructions are laid out in a "somewhat" logical sequence of events, but not all the time. I started with the engine per the instructions. A great little rendition of the Wright R-2600 Twin Cyclone engine. To enhance a lot of the model's interior and other areas, I purchased the Eduard PE set for the kit and used the ignition wiring harness for the ignition wires vice drilling holes and using wire for the wires. Otherwise, a very nice and detailed engine. The cockpit did well with the added painted PE goodies to dress it up. Sadly, I couldn't find a detail set for the TBM-3 in 1/32nd scale, so I got the set for theTBF-1C. What's the difference? Well, the Instrument panel in the TBF-1 is rounded whereas the TBM-3 is trapezoidal, reflecting the upgrades from the -1 to the -3. So I had to use the kit provided IP. No biggie. The rest of the stuff fit and looks good. As there is a lot of greenhouse I added power chords and fasteners to the radio gear in the radio compartment. The paint callouts are for Hobby Color or something but there is no chart to explain the colors. I think most instructions call for radio gear to be black, but in my Career as a Radio Operator in the USMC all the stuff I saw was that brownish O.D., so I painted the radio boxes that color.
Eduard provides myriad PE details for the interior, sadly none of which can be seen once buttoned, save through peering through the starboard aft access hatch with a flashlight, otherwise, invisible, same for the oxygen bottles and power supplies to the radio gear.
One area of note is the folding wing mechanism. Trumpeter provides the modeler with a steel rod for the hinge assembly. Good idea. Sadly, once the wing assembly is completed and that rod somehow manages to slip out, it is a real challenge to get it back in. I used a piece of Evergreen Rod as it's flexible enough to get it in and can be cemented at one end to not fall out.
All in all, it's a pretty neat model. I am glad I finally tackled it, and you know what? It wasn't that bad. I even bought their TBF-1C to do one in either an Atlantic Scheme or one off of CV-12, USS Hornet.