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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: 1/500 Revell S.S. Hope, being built as the hospital ship U.S.S. Repose; Academy 1/72 F-86F Sabre, and 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). 

  • 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:  Revell 1/96 USS Kearsarge - 70% 

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: 1/500 Revell S.S. Hope, being built as the hospital ship U.S.S. Repose; Academy 1/72 F-86F Sabre, and 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). 

  • 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: 1/500 Revell S.S. Hope, being built as the hospital ship U.S.S. Repose; Academy 1/72 F-86F Sabre, and 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). 

  • 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

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