To get straight to the point, Great Wall Hobby’s TBD Devastator is impressive! The box contains crisp moldings with beautiful surface detail. A small sheet of decals, a 12-page instruction booklet, and a sizable sheet of precut adhesive masks round out the contents. However, this model is not for the faint of heart, as it is quite involved in many respects.
The fuselage interior absorbed a large amount of time, and, had this build not been a review, I would like to have really done a number on it — it just cries out to be treated with careful detail painting, highlighting, and weathering.
Detail and fit of the various components is immaculate, and the inclusion of individual instrument decals makes it possible to create a convincing interior. I did, however, discover that photoetched brass and I do not get along. In the control cluster atop the instrument-panel hood, one brass piece required eight folds — but the part is barely 1⁄4" long and about 1⁄32" wide! This was beyond my meager abilities, and I destroyed the part. I replaced it with square styrene rod and attached the knobs to the scratchbuilt part.
After the fuselage come the engine, tail planes, and main wing. Again, my difficulties with photoetched metal came to the fore with the wiring harness on the engine.
The rest of the major assembly goes very smoothly and requires virtually no filler. However, there are large ejector-pin marks on the inside face of the wing flaps — hard to remove or correct, and very obvious. There is no detail at all inside the wing, flap bay, or wheel well — surprising considering the wonderful interior.
On both sides of the fuselage, kick steps — spring-loaded plates you push in with the toe of your boot to climb into the plane — are molded as open holes in the fuselage sides. I filled these by sticking clear tape over the hole, then pouring in 5-minute epoxy. After peeling the tape, I had a clean, smooth exterior. Then I drew the outline of the steps with a .5mm pencil.
Another odd feature is the undercarriage, which has been molded with the legs uncompressed (fully extended). This means the legs fit their bays perfectly if you choose to model it in flight. But if the model is shown on the ground, the model has a tippy-toed stance — certainly not appropriate with a torpedo mounted on the belly! It would be fairly simple to cut and shorten the oleos, but you shouldn’t have to.
There are two types of torpedoes in the kit, but neither is named nor described as suited to that particular aircraft.
I painted with Testors Model Master enamels: Navy blue gray and light gray (FS36495) on the outside, interior green inside.
I did try the kit-supplied masks, but found those for the canopy were not the right size or shape and did not stick very well. I masked the canopy with Bare-Metal Foil instead, which is time-consuming but relatively foolproof. I did not use the kit’s masks for the national insignia, as the star masks’ points are rounded. Also, I don’t believe the masks would have adhered well enough over the ridged wing surfaces to prevent paint bleed-through. The decals really didn’t conform terribly well to those surfaces, either. Even with copious amounts of Micro Sol and piercing the numerous bubbles that appeared, the decals did not settle in. I even used straight MEK, which certainly melted the decal film but still did not remove the bubbles. Admittedly, getting decals to conform to such a surface is asking a lot; the other decals were fine over less-exaggerated details.
I built my model with one wing folded and one wing extended. The detail inside the wing structure for the folded option is well done, and the fit of the wing panels in the extended position is quite tight and neat. Impressive!
You have a choice between a one-piece clear canopy molding or a sectioned, seven-piece assembly to show the canopy open. I was going to model the canopy opened, but a certain 6-month-old orange tabby prevented that! I did check to see if it was possible to nest the parts and display it all fully open, but the panels are too thick for that. So, I used the one-piece canopy. I like the shape of the aircraft with the canopy closed.
I really enjoyed building this! The cockpit detail is a highlight of the package. Everything looks and measures to scale except for the long undercarriage legs and the resultant stance of the finished model. If you have experience with tiny photoetched-brass parts, you will enjoy this kit also. I would love to build another with prewar yellow wings!
A version of this review appeared in the July 2012 FineScale Modeler magazine.