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Building a particular TBM Avenger

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  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Building a particular TBM Avenger
Posted by Bobstamp on Saturday, October 2, 2021 4:47 PM

I hope to start soon on my next model, a 1/72 Revell Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber, which I hope to build as a particular TBM converted to a tanker and flown in fire-suppression duties by the U.S. Forest Service.

Here’s the model:

These photos show the actual plane I want to build; I took the black-and-white photo in 1962:

This same TBM was still flying until just a few years ago. It was manufactured by General Motors under license from Grumman, which designed and manufactured the same plane under the designation TBF. 

My interest in the TBM goes all the way back July 2, 1962. I was flying in the instructor’s seat of a Forest Service T-34B mentor when I attempted to photograph a TBM as it dropped a load of fire retardant (borate slurry) on a small fire in New Mexico’s black range. Moments after the drop, as the T-34B pilot attempted to fly over a ridge, the plane apparently stalled, flipped upside down, and fell into the forest. Both the pilot and I were seriously injured, but survived with the help of two volunteer smokejumpers who parachuted to the crash site with emergency supplies, which included a chain saw. The next morning, they felled several ponderosa pines to create a helipad, and the pilot and I were transported to hospital by helicopter.

I will never know for sure, but I believe that the TBM shown in the photographs is probably the the same plane that I tried to photograph, but I'll never know if I succeeded (my camera was destroyed in the crash). In previous years, there were two TBMs being used in fire suppression in the Gila Forest; just the year before my crash, in 1961 a TBM crashed in the Gila Forest, killing the young pilot. My dad and I saw both planes as they flew over our house on the way to the fire late that day; when it was nearly dark, just one of the TBMs returned, and we knew that something bad had happened.

I have already built a replica of the T-34B that I crashed in; a model of the TBM seems to be an appropriate follow-up. 

I’ve taken a look at the kit, and I’ve obviously cut out a big job for myself, especially considering that I’m barely a beginning model builder. If any of you have some thoughts and suggestions to help this project be a success, please let me know. 

Right off the bat I know that finding red paint in the right shade is going to be difficult — I use Tamiya rattle can lacquers for the most part, and none of the Tamiya reds seem even close to what’s needed. I don’t own an airbrush because one would be a time-consuming pain to use in my small apartment. 

Bob

 

On the bench: 1/72 Grumman Avenger being kitbashed as a U.S. Forest Service tanker; a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor), and a Pegasus model of the submarine Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas fame. 

  • Member since
    September 2021
Posted by DooeyPyle67 on Saturday, October 2, 2021 5:27 PM

Looks to me to be the same exact aircraft except they converted the torpedo bay into a fire retardant tank.

Based on the color phot you provided, I think Insignia Red is a close match. 

fox
  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Narvon, Pa.
Posted by fox on Saturday, October 2, 2021 5:29 PM

Hi Bob! You've got one fairly good-sized project there. I'm sure you'll be able to git-er-done.

Maybe if you go to the "Painting" section you'll be able to get the info you need for the paint.There are members there that really know a lot about all brands of paint and would be able to lead you to one that has the color you need.

Hope you post a WIP on the build so we can watch how it comes along.

Jim Captain

Stay Safe.

 Main WIP: 

   On the Bench:  1/48 Tamiya - Vought F4U-1A Corsair for Group Build 'Absent Friends' 50%                                                                   1/48 Encore Models - A-37B/OA-37B Dragonfly 50%

I keep hitting "escape", but I'm still here.

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: USA
Posted by keavdog on Saturday, October 2, 2021 5:31 PM

Great project.  I really like the fire bombers.  Lonestar did a conversion for a Hemet fire bomber.  Not sure if the tank is the same or not AND if you can order one Lonestar anyhow.  Looking forward to this build

https://www.scalemates.com/kits/lone-star-models-lsm70573-hemet-valley-type-tbm-firebomber--1011825

 

Thanks,

John

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Saturday, October 2, 2021 5:37 PM

Don't mean to be a buzzkill...and maybe it was just a typo...but that kit is 1/48, not 1/72. Is it the old Mono kit, or a rebox of something like the Accurate Miniatures release?

Greg

George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."
 
  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Saturday, October 2, 2021 6:07 PM

gregbale

Don't mean to be a buzzkill...and maybe it was just a typo...but that kit is 1/48, not 1/72. Is it the old Mono kit, or a rebox of something like the Accurate Miniatures release?

 

That is the latest rebox of the old Monogram 60's vintage TBF-1

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    August 2021
Posted by goldhammer88 on Saturday, October 2, 2021 6:12 PM

The changes to the canopy look to follow pretty much the same contour, can sand down the frames behind the pilot and just paint it

  Will have to make the plug to replace the turret and fair it in.

I'd just close up the bombbay doors.

Your B/W pic looks to be a solid red tail rather than the later scheme in the color shot

  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by Bobstamp on Saturday, October 2, 2021 7:27 PM

DooeyPyle67

Looks to me to be the same exact aircraft except they converted the torpedo bay into a fire retardant tank.

Based on the color phot you provided, I think Insignia Red is a close match. 

 
And...the canopy was heavily modified. Between the canopy and the drop tank, I've got my work cut out for me.
 
Tamiya TS spray paint doesn't seem to come in an insignia red. Other brands?
 
Bob 

On the bench: 1/72 Grumman Avenger being kitbashed as a U.S. Forest Service tanker; a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor), and a Pegasus model of the submarine Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas fame. 

  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by Bobstamp on Saturday, October 2, 2021 7:38 PM

That 

gregbale

Don't mean to be a buzzkill...and maybe it was just a typo...but that kit is 1/48, not 1/72. Is it the old Mono kit, or a rebox of something like the Accurate Miniatures release?

 
 
Not a buzzkill — I just goofed. I knew it was a 1/48 kit, which is fine, because my T-34B is also a 1/48 kit.
 
Bob

On the bench: 1/72 Grumman Avenger being kitbashed as a U.S. Forest Service tanker; a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor), and a Pegasus model of the submarine Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas fame. 

  • Member since
    January 2020
  • From: Maryland
Posted by wpwar11 on Saturday, October 2, 2021 9:09 PM

keavdog

Great project.  I really like the fire bombers.  Lonestar did a conversion for a Hemet fire bomber.  Not sure if the tank is the same or not AND if you can order one Lonestar anyhow.  Looking forward to this build

https://www.scalemates.com/kits/lone-star-models-lsm70573-hemet-valley-type-tbm-firebomber--1011825

 

 

Never thought I would read something about  Hemet Vally, CA here on the forum.  My birthplace.  

  • Member since
    July 2012
  • From: Douglas AZ
Posted by littletimmy on Saturday, October 2, 2021 9:54 PM

I may be " talking out of my hat" here but, 

I seem to recall that several tbf/tbms were converted to air ambulances. 

( used during Korean/Vietnam wars? )

The bomb bay was modified to hold 2  wounded, and the gun placement was faired over.

Your fire plane looks like it was converted from one of the air ambulances.

I say all this because, I could swear somebody did a kit of one of these. It would save you a lot of scratchbuilding if you could find on of those kits.

 Dont worry about the thumbprint, paint it Rust , and call it "Battle Damage"

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Saturday, October 2, 2021 10:14 PM

There's a number of fire eater forums about, where you'll get all the answers you need.

Memory fails but a couple of members here, like Randy; might help.

 

Bill

 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.

 

  • Member since
    May 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Sunday, October 3, 2021 2:07 AM

Hello!

I looked stuff up and thought maybe the firefighter was converted from this:

Good luck with your project Bob and have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    September 2021
Posted by DooeyPyle67 on Sunday, October 3, 2021 11:48 AM

Yup - swap the canopy from that kit.

  • Member since
    August 2021
Posted by goldhammer88 on Sunday, October 3, 2021 12:04 PM

Won't work, that's 1/72, his is 1/48.  No idea if it was produced in that scale or not.  Might be hard to come by

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Sunday, October 3, 2021 12:15 PM

It's interesting that the firefighter versions lack the mini-fins on the stabs that the AEW and utility versions for the military had.

I can understand not having to do combat maneuvering...but you would think that with the air turbulence surrounding fire areas, a little extra directional stability might be useful.

I guess not having to do low-speed carrier landings might make the difference.

Greg

George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."
 
  • Member since
    May 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Sunday, October 3, 2021 1:21 PM

Hello!

When you remove the big bubble in front of the center of stability or whatever the correct term for "center" is here, then those fins aft not only become something of a dead weight but might also actually spoil the directional characteristics of the plane - I imagine it could tend to turn into the wind more strongly, that could be a problem in presence of those fire drafts.

There's still the enlarged fillet between the fuselage ant the tail - absent in the regular variants of the Avenger.

Thanks for reading and have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    September 2021
Posted by DooeyPyle67 on Sunday, October 3, 2021 4:55 PM

Good eye... I do wonder if he didn't realize that's a 1/48 scale kit.  If he gets the 1/72 scale kit, it's very doable.

  • Member since
    August 2021
Posted by goldhammer88 on Sunday, October 3, 2021 6:23 PM

In looking at the box art, looks like it has the fillet for the vertical tail, so that much would help.

  • Member since
    July 2021
Posted by Flight Line Media on Sunday, October 3, 2021 6:52 PM
Great project, Bob! I look forward to seeing this build completed!

Andrew

www.flightlinemedia.co

Follow us on Instagram: from.the.ariel.view

  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by Bobstamp on Wednesday, December 29, 2021 4:43 PM

Flight Line Media
Great project, Bob! I look forward to seeing this build completed.

Well, we'll have to wait a while! I got started on the build, to the point of assembling and painting the cockpit interior and the pilot, and then moved to the fuselage to figure out a way to remove the turrets and reconfigure it as a slurry bomber. That's when I realized that half of the fuselage and one of the lower wing panels were badly warped. In desperation, somewhat mitigated by the realization that it might not be the model I wanted,* I tried "de-warping" with hot water and went too far, ending up with even worse warping. OK, not warping. The plastic melted beyond hope! But there's a happy ending in sight.

I went searching for reviews of other TBM models, and found a glowing one about the Sword version of a TBM-3E, the exact model that I had been trying to photograph when my plane crashed. Even better, it's in 1/72 scale, which suits my small apartment much better. And I soon found an affordable kit from a company in Poland. But in the meantime, I've started on another kit, the Pegasus Nautilus, based loosely on the Walt Disney version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Bob

* The Revell model TBM is actually a reboxing of a Monogram model, or so I assume. The word "Monogram" is molded into some of the larger parts. But I was put off by the "toy-like" aspects of the model — moving propeller, tail hook, wheels, turret, etc., all of which impacted its realism and added to the problems of attempting to kitbash it. It offered little detail, and I lost nothing, since it was a gift. 

On the bench: 1/72 Grumman Avenger being kitbashed as a U.S. Forest Service tanker; a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor), and a Pegasus model of the submarine Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas fame. 

  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by Bobstamp on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 7:31 PM

My Grumman TBM slurry bomber is coming along fairly well — it surew is easy to obliterate panel lines — but I've hit a snag with decals. I need white decals for the registration number of the original aircraft, but my Apple computer doesn't include a sans serif font that's close to replicating the original. The Microsoft San Serif font comes close, but it's not quite heavy enough and the letters need to be a bit taller. Any suggestions about sources of fonts I might be able to use?

Bob 

On the bench: 1/72 Grumman Avenger being kitbashed as a U.S. Forest Service tanker; a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor), and a Pegasus model of the submarine Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas fame. 

  • Member since
    May 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 7:57 PM

Hello Bob!

If you mean exactly those markings:

Then I might trace them for you in Corel DRAW! without using actual font - might just take me a few days, but it's not that big deal. Please drop me a line if I can help you.

Good luck with your projects and have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 11:31 PM

Look at Draw Decals. They make a whole series of fire eaters decals for every type you can imagine, including the DC-10.

I used them to build my PBY from "Always".

They have a number of Avenger sets. I didn't see yours but WTH call them.

That's a block font. Here's a link that seems to have a lot of them.

https://www.1001fonts.com/blocky-fonts.html

That  has to be third runner up for the world's ugliest airplane.

Here's some info.She's back to looking like a torpedo bomber.

https://flightaware.com/resources/registration/N6447C

 

Bill

 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.

 

  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by Bobstamp on Sunday, May 8, 2022 6:00 PM

Thank you for your offers of assistance. After poking around more on the internet, I found a free font called Aileron — How appropos! — that seems nearly identical to the font used for the registration numbers of the TBM slurry bomber. The only difference I noted was that the lower-case “l” has a bit of a curved tail, but I don’t need an “l”. 

 

I downloaded the font, added it to my word processing program, and have already sent a PDF of the registration numbers to a company in Richmond, BC, a suburb of Vancouver, that prints decals for model railroaders. 

 

The font is certainly close enough to the original to be used. Besides which, the fonts used on aircraft are often changed when livery is changed. Later photographs of the same aircraft show registration numbers in an italic font. 

 

I’m basing my model on this photograph of a TBM-3, built in 1945, that I took a few hours before my airplane crash in 1962.

 

 

That TBM-3 may not have been the TBM that I tried to photograph as it dropped a load of borate fire retardant on a small fire in the Black Range in Southwestern New Mexico. Nevertheless, that’s the aircraft I’m trying to replicate. (It was built in 1945, continued to fly throughout most of the 20th Century, was refurbished as a torpedo bomber, and now resides in an air museum in Texas.) 

 

The TBM that I tried to photograph as it dropped borate slurry on a small fire in New Mexico’s Black Range might have been this one, an Avenger 35:

 

That Avenger 35 was “on duty” the same day as my airplane crash. The gentleman at the left in this photograph, which I took, is Jack Foster, the fire boss for the Gila National Forest who offered me my “crash ride” the Beech T-34B Mentor bird-dog plane.

 

The Avenger 35, a variant of the Avenger TBM-3S, was almost new, having been built for the Royal Canadian Navy as an anti-submarine aircraft in 1960. According to the Aviation Safety Network database, the aircraft crashed on take-off at Elko Municipal Airport in  on September 6, 1966. The pilot survived, but the aircraft was written off.

 

Bob

 

P.S. Unlike some Finescale members, I happen to think that the TBM is a very attractive aircraft! I guess I just have good taste! Big Smile

On the bench: 1/72 Grumman Avenger being kitbashed as a U.S. Forest Service tanker; a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor), and a Pegasus model of the submarine Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas fame. 

  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by Bobstamp on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 1:10 AM

Some advice, please:

My two-tone (red and white) 1/72 Grumman TBM model, which I’m kit bashing as a 1950s-60s tanker, is nearing completion, but I hit a problem after painting it. Here’s the model as it is at this time:

 

 

When I removed the masking tape, I saw that small bits of white or red paint had leached under the masking tape onto the red or white parts, even though I had painted the edges of the masking tape with clear Tamiya acrylic. 

I decanted some of the red and some of the white spray paint and tried to use it to retouch the model. Bad choice: when I painted over a tiny bit of red paint with decanted white paint, the layers of white below the red as well as the white primer dissolved and made a small but unwelcome mess. Now what?

This is my plan (please comment!):

1. Spray the entire model, except for the canopy, with several thin coats of clear Tamiya spray and let it dry for 24 hours.

2. Use the decanted Tamiya spray to retouch the model.

Am I on the right track?

I assume that white and red Tamiya acrylic paint, brushed over the unwanted paint, would be safer, but the problem with that is that both the white and red Tamiya acrylic paint are slightly different in tone from the spray paint. Since I don’t want the model to look like it just rolled off the factory floor, perhaps I shouldn’t worry about slightly mismatched retouching. Your thoughts about that?

Bob

On the bench: 1/72 Grumman Avenger being kitbashed as a U.S. Forest Service tanker; a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor), and a Pegasus model of the submarine Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas fame. 

  • Member since
    May 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 2:40 AM

Hello!

I like the looks of your model a lot! I have noticed a problem on the tail, maybe you could post close-ups of the problematic spots?

I think I would try to lightly sand the spots where white went out of control, then mask one more time and try to re-spray just the problematic places.

Otherwise some touch ups would probably be OK. If you use this route I'd suggest also "touching up" places where the real aircraft would be likely to get worn, too - around the hatches, steps, leading edges and so on. But I think it's important to smooth the surface before you put more paint on.

Good luck with your build and have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by Bobstamp on Sunday, June 26, 2022 5:30 PM

Thank you for your suggestion, Paweł. I am following through, with good success...so far!

Bob

 

On the bench: 1/72 Grumman Avenger being kitbashed as a U.S. Forest Service tanker; a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor), and a Pegasus model of the submarine Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas fame. 

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