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Accurate Miniatures' 1/48 TBF-1
Kiwi Avenger

by Anthony Galbraith

 

Grumman TBF-1 Avenger NZ 2504



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Background


The RNZAF was originally allocated 63 aircraft from the Grumman line but only 48 were ever delivered. The first 6 (NZ2501-06) delivered in Sep 43 were TBF-1s with the remaining 42 being the later -1C's delivered Oct-Feb 1944.

After seeing much action in the islands most returned and all but 12 were returned to the US Navy and the British fleet. Six were sold for scrap and the remaining airframes which had been converted to Target tugs were retained by 42 Sqn for target towing and general utility duties.

 

 

NZ2504 was unique in that in 1949 it was chosen as the feasability aircraft for topdressing trials and became the worlds first cropduster using a hopper in the bomb bay. In 1959 she was retired and became an instructional airframe and then a gate guard before being rescued and survives today at the RNZAF museum, although she now has a turret reinstalled and painted to represent one lost in the islands. Fortunately the interior is still in remarkable original condition just tidied up.

 

 

Construction

 

Accurate Minatures have done a stunning job in producing the 'Turkey' in 1/48 scale. I will just concentrate on the modifications and improvements I did.

The whole interior was modified with extra shelving (drogue stowage), switches and winch cabling also. The flare tubes removed and extra ribbing and plumbing added. The turret was blanked off from the inside with a flat plate as per the actual plane (5mins from home).

Because the ventral gun was removedthe upper ares was blanked off and an upward hinging door with window was installed and painted yellow this opening was where the drogue exited. The radio equipment was removed from the rear cockpit and a new floor made from 10 thou card. A seat with lap belts was sourced from the spares box and installed. I made a new clear window behind the seat as I couldnt get the kit one to fit well.

The main cockpit was built but with a sighting tube added on the instrument panel combing with a hole also drilled in the stbd sidewall for the flare gun. A Verlinden Corsair seat was modified to look like an Avenger one. The interior was sprayed US interior green with the rear fuselage British Interior Green as per the original which is still visible. The fuselage halves were now joined.

 

 

A piece of 10thou card was curled to match the curve of the turret opening trimmed to shape glued and rubbed down to scale thickness. A scoop was then added to the side. Being a -1 the access panels for the .30 cal nose machine gun was made again from 10thou, fastener holes drilled in and again rubbed down to scale thickness.

The engine was painted, drybrushed and decal squares were put on the crank case. Then for some reason I went mad and added all the internal rib structure to the cowl and removed al the cowl flaps! I scratched my head in disbelief and turned my attention to the wings and removed their flaps.

 

 

Six months later when I stopped being annoyed with myself I scratchbuilt all new flap bays and attached the wings. The new flaps were scratchbuilt. Heavy duty pipes visible through the lower cowl flaps were also added. I blended in the rear face of each cowl opening and added a small lip on the front surface so the scratchbuilt cowl flaps had a positive location. Rod actuators were made and trimmed to length. The stbd cowl flap proved a little difficult as it had a "V" notch in it for the gun. Firstly I cut a small triangle out and glued a block of plasticin behind it. Then I used a round jewellers file and filed the trough out on the cowl and associated flap, brushed some Mr Surfacer around and fitted everything. I couldn't get the windscreen to fit very well so I superglued it in, sanded it smooth and rescribed it, added new rectangular fairings that had been lost..

 

 

Everything else was built as per instructions and the flare tube holes were patched also. I then plumbed the undercarriage with fuse wire and the brake line rerouted forward of the legs to the hub. The wheels were filed to a more square cross section with radial tread scribed. The tyres were flattened on my wife's oven! Actually her cuticle clippers came in handy too!

 

 

Painting and Markings

 

This turned out to be more of a challenge than I anticipated because this plane had been repainted a couple of times in her life and there were subtle differences each time. I owe thanks to the RNZAF Museum for letting me rummage through their collection to pinpoint several shots taken in 1954.

 

 

So this is how she was done:

Great thanks must also go to Dave Wilson for peeling some of the original yellow paint off in the seventies before a total paint strip. I took this to a local automotive paint supply shop where they matched the colour. This was lightened a little for scale effect as it looked too intense for 1/48 scale. Being a lacquer I also used Tamiyas AS12 to replicate the the original sprayed silver used. This was run thru the airbrush thinned a little with AAA acrylic laquer thinner.

Cutting Edge's Black Magic masks were used for the transparencies but beware mine only had enough to do one side of the rear fuse windows.

 

 

Green was first sprayed on the canopies then silver, yellow, black etc. The stripe masking was a painful job of measuring, checking, measuring.....I went to a local signwriting shop and they made the "2504" underwing serials out of a low tack vinyl mask which was then sprayed on.

Future was sprayed on several weeks later and Almark sheet A20 roundels applied as the blue was a close match for the Zenith Blue used by the RNZAF for a while. Aeromaster serials used from the RNZAF special and some kit stenciling.

After that a wash of dark grey was used and after everything was thoroughly dry a coat of Pollyscale flat was used and I was pleasantly surprised at the subtle sheen that was left as I was a little nervous to go full flat. An elderly gent I spoke to who serviced the plane said she got quite dull and tatty as she was used as a general hack as well, so the final result matched photos well.

Unusually I noticed Avengers don't seem to get exhaust staining down the fuselage (at least the kiwi ones I looked at), so to me it was finished after fine fishing line was used for the antennas and brass rod for the pole antenna on the spine and tail cable guards.

 

 

Conclusion

 

I started this kit 5 years ago and it nearly hit the wall several times, thanks to HyperScale and the guys who encouraged me to finish it - you all know who you are. I really enjoyed the build and plan to do a Pacific one sometime.

 

 

Additional Images

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

 

TBF/TBM Avenger Units of WW2
Combat Aircraft 16
Author: Barrett Tillman
Illustrator: Tom Tullis
US Price: $19.95
UK Price: 12.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date:
 October 15 1999
Details: 96 pages; ISBN: 1841763632
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Buy it from Osprey Publishing

Model, Images and Text Copyright 2004 by Anthony Galbraith
Page Created 11 July, 2004
Last Updated 10 July, 2004

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