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Great Wall Hobby TBD Devastator

By Matthew Walker
Published: May 14, 2012

Product: Great Wall Hobby has created an impressive TBD Devastator kit. The box contains crisply molded sprues with beautiful surface detail. A small sheet of decals, 12-page instruction booklet and sizable sheet of precut adhesive masks rounds out the contents.

A word of caution: This model is not for the beginners, as it is quite complicated in many respects.

The 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 piece required eight folds — but the part is barely 1⁄4 of an inch long by 1⁄32 of an inch wide. This was beyond my meager abilities, and I destroyed the part. I replaced it with a square styrene rod and attached the knobs to the scratch-built part.

After the fuselage came the engine, tail planes and main wing. Again, my difficulties with photoetched metal became apparent with the wiring harness on the engine. The rest of the major assembly goes very smoothly and requires virtually no filler. There are, however, large ejector pin marks on the inside face of the wing flaps, which are hard to remove or correct and very obvious. There is no detail at all inside the wing, flap bay or wheel well, which is 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. I filled these by sticking clear tape over the hole, then pouring in five-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. This means the legs fit their bays perfectly if you chose to model it in flight, but the model is shown on the ground and 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 it shouldn't be necessary.

Two types of torpedoes are supplied 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, and interior green on the inside. I tried 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.

The decals really didn’t conform terribly well to some surfaces. 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 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 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.

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 six-month-old orange tabby prevented that! I did check to see if it was possible to nest the parts and display the canopy 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.

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 yellow wings.

World War II naval aviation is always a popular modeling subject; this is a good model of this workhorse aircraft.

It could benefit from aftermarket torpedoes and decal choices. If you have these in stock, be sure to display them somewhere near the model.

Product: TBD Devastator
Maker: Great Wall Hobby
Scale: 1:48
Stock number: L4807
MSRP: $59.95
Availability: Dragon Models

• Excellent cockpit detail
• Parts generally fit well
• Really small photo etch parts