Academy proudly rolls out the first of its recently licensed Accurate Miniatures (AM) classics in the form of the TBM-3 Avenger. First introduced to the market under the Accurate Miniatures brand in 1996, this kit is truly a “Sweet 16” (year-old) work of art. The hallmark AM tooling’s detail and precision rivals that of Tamiya’s, with exceptional fit and minimal fuss.
Once the box cover sporting snappy new box art is lifted away, the modeler is greeted by 10 trees of exquisitely molded parts, including one of crystal-clear canopy, ball turret, and light lens pieces. Decals for two aircraft, one from USS Bunker Hill the other from USS Essex, are printed by Cartograf. The instruction booklet rounds out the box contents and is, frankly, the only disappointment in the whole ensemble. David Doyle’s TBF/TBM Avenger in Action from Squadron/Signal was an essential resource in proper placement and painting of numerous parts and assemblies.
Aside from the lacking legacy of AM instructions, although spruced up with a current color reference chart, the build is a true pleasure – and lots of it! Crisp detail and near-perfect part fit and alignment make assembly a breeze and painting and weathering a matter of textbook form.
Cockpit detail includes separate side-wall clusters, clear instrument panel with integrated side console panels, pilot, gunner, and radio operator seats with separate arm rests and decal seat belts and harnesses, and radio and avionics racks.
The engine is nicely detailed and includes separate gearbox and ignition ring and wires. Engine mount structure and detail is provided for those wishing to super-detail the space between the cockpit and engine compartment.
Armament includes the exquisitely-detailed ball turret and gun, the lower tail “stinger” gun, 8 high-velocity attack rockets, and 3 choices of gravity bomb load-outs – 4×500 lb., 1×1600 lb., or 1×2000 lb. No torpedo is included. Bomb bay doors may be assembled open or closed.
Although no provisions are made for folding wings, interior landing flap detail is provided if the modeler chooses to cut out the flaps and position them in landing configuration.
The Cartograf decals are simply amazing. Bright, crisp, in-register, and ultra-thin, they go on as well or better than any decals.