Scratchbuilders TBM Avenger

By Howard Weaver

Everything one would like to know about the Scratchbuilders TBM Avenger

text by Howard Weaver and Richard Griewski
photos by Howard Weaver

When I first opened the box to my TBM, I was almost overwhelmed with the abundance of parts. There were metal parts, clear pieces, and of course resin cast parts. The only pieces that I recognized right away were the wing sections. The rest of the fuselage etc. were made up of sub assemblies.

I'm not going to give piece by piece assembly directions to build the kit, but I will say that the instructions are a little hard to follow at times. You should start by reading the instructions through a few times and identifying the parts as you go. As with any resin kit, all assembly of parts is to be done with CA or epoxy types of glues, with the exception of the clear parts, such as the canopy and turret assembly. White glue was used for this.

The kit is very well molded, and has a completely cast interior with ribs and stringers. It also has a complete bombardier’s station complete with bench seat, a radio station and complete bomb bay with scale torpedo. The wheels are smoothies and the only bad part of the kit really is the landing gear itself. It is cast from white metal and is too soft. I had completely finished my model, and had it on a mirror so as to display the torpedo/bomb bay compartment, and the next morning awoke to find the landing gear collapsed and the model resting on the bomb bay doors. I straightened the landing gear and the next morning they were back the same way, resting on the bomb bay doors again!!! The best advice I can give someone building this kit, is to make the landing gear from brass tubing from the start. When I have time, I’ll rebuild mine. Right now I have made a cradle that takes the weight off of the landing gear except for short periods of time.

When reading over the assembly plans, there are several paragraphs that explain the wing fold mechanism. Scratchbuilders recommends that you build the kit with either folded or spread wings. They supply a set of wing fold hinges, from the same soft white metal, that you have to drill out , assemble and fit to the wings, but after trying to get this to work for a several weeks, I decided to make them straight, and CA’d the wings in place!! I concluded that articulated wings are next to impossible to do with the weight of the cast wings. Maybe if vacuformed wings had been supplied, they might work, but the cast ones are just too heavy. In my opinion, the wings should have been made in one piece, but instead are made with upper and lower halves. The turret assembly was really a model in it’s own right and was an enjoyable part of the model to do. It is pretty well complete and is well detailed. Parts should be glued with CA glue, and then the clear turret joined with white glue. The same can be said of the cockpit. The only problem here is that the instrument pannel was a decal. I replaced mine with a scratchbuilt one fitted with Waldron gages. I also used Waldron seatbelt buckles with hand made seat belts from surgical tape.

The engine too is a model on it’s own. It is a 14 cylinder, two row radial, complete with an engine mount, carburetor, carb filter, and supercharger. It is supplied from Engines and Things, and is very good. A set of decals are provided, but are very basic. I used the Stars and Bars that were supplied, and hand made the rest using brass stencils that I made.

The model was painted using Model Master paints., Sea blue, Intermediate blue and white. Weathering was done using oils applied over a barrier of Flecto Varithane clear. Then another coat of Varithane followed with Testors dullcoat.

With the exception of the soft landing gear and the trials and tribulations of the wing fold, the model was an enjoyable challenge.

© Howard Weaver

The TBF/TBM 1C by Scratchbuilders is, IMHO, a great kit. I love the complexity and all the parts. This kit is not for the faint of heart. I has many parts and could be considered to be a little "over engineered".

Scratchbuilders even offers to allow you to return the kit (unassembled) if it overwhelms the buyer. The kit seems very accurate. It measures out correctly against my references. The tail is just right; this seems to be difficult thing to show correctly on older kits. The kit has parts to make a USN or British versions. My kit is in the primer sanding stage and please note that because I am working on other kits it will probably stay in this condition for a while. I did have some difficulty finding the resin flash/part line. Primer helped a lot to show what was where during sanding. I am building this in stages and assembling the kit with 3M blue masking tape. Each section or sub-assembly is sanded and tightly taped together. The kit is a hyper-interconnected sanding puzzle (which pleases me). I have been doing the 3 steps forward one back method and being able to remove and re-adjust the parts with tape helps alot. I use this technique a lot with my resin kit building: keeping the CA glue at bay as long as possible. I had a couple of poorly molded (dirty-pitted) parts. These were replaced by the company owner at no cost. The kit could benefit from some PE parts and I will have to vac my own canopy as I do not like the ribbing on the canopy. The real plane was more complex. I will be folding the wings up so I will have to scratch build the wing-fold mechanism. The kit offers no help there. The metal cast parts are B+ grade and are some of the best done by Scratchbuilders. The torpedo is great and the bomb bay is waiting to be filled with cables, wires and piping. The decals are correct and well printed. You get at least two different choices of aircraft. The panel lines are accurate and will need only a little help when I get to that step!

The kit is heavy and the builder may want to replace the landing gear metal castings with brass replacements or some type of reinforcement. A person, I feel only ever owns one of these kits as I will take some time to build it.

© Richard Griewski

Related Content

This article was published on Wednesday, July 20 2011; Last modified on Saturday, May 14 2016