Builds 1/32 TBM-3 Gruman Avenger from Trumpter

Always amazes me, especially when you see it broken down like that, how much aircraft that was for one engine to haul around.

it’s a big old thing.

the Tarpon had a navigators seat where the avionics are. Bit gutted about the fcuk up but I need to get it finished because of the....... Wokka which is being restarted in December
There is a Ping and a 105mm gun to go with it.......


so whilst quietly dying from flu, I've started to have a dig into how to address my Tarpon/Avenger problem.

The first thing is it wasn't called a Tarpon for very long! FAA standardised on the Avenger name after taking deliveries of the MkI. Mine is a MkIII.

I can paint it deep US navy blue as late deliveries were shipped in that colour. The problem I still have is the US avionics. Looks like the FAA MkIII avenger has the UK config which is the navigators seat, but that said, the alterations were done on land after they were delivered. So bingo . I can have US livery on an FAA Avenger. The question is...... do I want to as it looks like a bit of a dogs breakfast.

If anyone is interested:

Initial deliveries of the Mk.III were from TBM-3 production. Most of the JZ635-720 batch were TBM-3E, and it is this batch that saw limited WW2 service. I would not expect a one-to-one relationship with the BuAer serials, however sensible it may seem. The KE batch were TBM-3Es, and went to the UK.
80 TBM-3 / TBM-3E serialled JZ635 to JZ720. US BuAer No.s indicate that the first 16 aircraft were TBM-3s and the final 64 were TBM-3E. (If there had been a one-to-one relationship with the BuAer serials, this would suggest a switch to TBM-3E from JZ651. However, AB picture of JZ654 (see below) shows TBM-3 characteristics – indented lower cowl flaps, stinger gun position extant, MK5 zero length rocket launchers but no underwing rack for an AN/ASP-4 radar pod

Some Mk.III`s were delivered to the UK and were used post war, mostly on trials duties but most went S India and then some on to Australia and would have replaced the Mk.II`s serving aboard the BPF Fleet Carriers if the war had not ended when the bombs were dropped. Suddenly there was no use for all of these Mk.III`s so many were dumped at sea but those units remaining in theatre for any length of time re equipped with Mk.III`s and at least a couple of squadrons went to sea with them. Service records for aircraft of this batch end in 1946, when they were returned or more likely dumped.

50 TBM-3E serialled KE430 to KE479 (only 38 delivered to FAA and none allocated to front line squadrons). Most of those delivered, were used by second line squadrons until the late 40’s. Many of them were reconditioned ex US Navy aircraft and the SBG finish shows definite overpainting of the US Stars and also the previous US Navy sqn/carrier markings on the fin/rudder and upper wings too, is something to look out for on the few available photos including the well-known KE461.


KE436 (see
However they must have had the FAA mods made prior to delivery (see below re fixture and fittings for 1945/46 TBM-3Es).

Some reconditioned TBM-3s in VL serial range delivered to FAA but none allocated to squadrons (see Tarpon (Avenger) II above). Except for VL994 to 999, which reported to Sydney aboard HMS Reaper 9.45. The last three appear to have been Mk.IIIs. Three others, described as "elderly", were handed over to the FAA at Norfolk "possibly as GI".

Delivered in Sea Blue Gloss with an ant-glare Non-spectacular Sea Blue panel in front of the cockpit. Interior colours as per MKII. With the introduction of Sea Blue Gloss paintwork, the wheel wells were seen to be painted matt black on factory fresh machines. This was done so that any cracks caused through metal fatigue would be more easily noticed during mechanical or pre-flight checks.

These are all the FACTORY APPLIED finishes. Carrier based aircraft were regularly checked for corrosion and touched up, or resprayed with FAA designated paint when returned to land bases in the UK. If the a/c were subsequently re-painted by the FAA, they would use standard colours (FAA formally adopted SBG for US supplied aircraft from August 1944). So you will need the serial to see how the a/c was finished. AB picture of JZ654 with delivery number in Canada and crown picture p82 in Profile 214 and in book ‘The Secret Years - Flight Testing at Boscombe Down 1939-1945’ of JZ635 at A&AEE of TBM-3s in TSS. Photo seen by others of JZ681 (TBM-3E) in SBG so perhaps JZ series TBM-3s delivered in TSS and TBM-3Es in SBG?

Fixtures and fittings

When the FAA adopted the Avenger in WWII, it was to fulfil the TBR mission. The standard TBR crew was a pilot, observer, and the Telegraphist Air Gunner (TAG), who operated the radio equipment and handled rear defence.

The observer was responsible for navigation, gunnery spotting, reconnaissance work, and weapon aiming during an attack (other than dive-bombing mission). To suit the Avenger to this different crew combination, Blackburn Aircraft set up a rework facility in the US to modify airframes into a similar configuration as the original TBF, with a full cockpit behind the pilot for the observer (on USN aircraft this area was used as a rack for radio equipment).

FAA Tarpons/Avengers delivered in WWII had the centre (navigator) cockpit as per the first fifty TBF-1s, with the observers seat placed looking forward immediately behind the pilot. It had rudimentary flight instruments and a stick and pedals. The stick was stored on the fuselage side until needed. There was no provisions for the Norden sight, though the bombing panel was retained.

All had FAA radios, gun sights, Sutton harnesses and oxygen systems.

F24 camera fitted in the TAG’s station (replacing stinger gun?) and ROTAG attachment points added.

Radio mast was hinged so it could be folded over. Was it simply a matter of adding a hinge to whatever mast was on the airframe. Photographic evidence indicates vertical and re-positioned masts as per TBF-1c and TBM-1c were not fitted to FAAMK I and II machines (see below).

Round domed windows replaced flat oval windows on the fuselage side by the TAG’s station.

Though most may have not had a lower rear gun (replaced by a camera), some FAATarpons had it installed.


Had an uprated engine which required a redesigned cowling to provide adequate cooling and airflow for the engine’s relocated oil cooler.

Intakes at 12:00 and 6:00 o’clock positions (previous variants had just the one intake at the 12:00 o’clock position).

Four additional cowl flaps down each side of the cowling. The bottom two were indented and the lowest one notched to clear the exhaust stack, which was of a slightly different shape.

MK5 zero length rocket launchers fitted as standard and cockpit instruments re-arranged.

All FAA specific mods as per earlier versions (dome windows, observers station, British equipment etc.) made.

TBM-3E (1945/46)

Lightweight (by nearly a ton)variant of TBM-3.

Engine cowl flaps further refined with the indentation removed from the bottom two flaps.

From my basic research which was done quite a few years ago so my memory might not be correct, I think that the British Mk.III`s were TBM-3E`s from BuAer69140. If there had been a one-to-one relationship with the BuAer serials, this would suggest a switch to TBM-3E from JZ651.

However, Air Britain (AB) picture of JZ654 shows TBM-3 characteristics – indented lower cowl flaps, stinger gun position extant, MK5 zero length rocket launchers but no underwing rack for an AN/ASP-4 radar pod

I have written down that from BuAer86175 the TBM-3E` had external hooks fitted, meaning that the first batch of Mk.III`s serialled JZ635-JZ720 had internal hooks but the second and subsequent batches, beginning with KE430 had external hooks? The available photos that I have seen seem to bear this out.

Stinger gun position and associated windows deleted.

An under-wing rack for an AN/APS-4 radar pod was installed under the starboard wing. Pod used by or at least seen on some operational aircraft.

A larger tail wheel was fitted to some aircraft

Tail and wing de-icing gear was dispensed with.

All presumed to have FAA specific mods as per earlier versions (dome windows, observer’s station behind pilot, British equipment etc.) made. Photos of KE443 in AB FAA Aircraft since 1946 and KE461 in Eric Brown's Fly Navy, show dome windows and open canopy above observer’s station.
Screenshot 2019-11-27 at 12.12.52.png

In US deep navy blue
In between dying - I’m not a complainer....


you should really leave this for 24 hours to go off, but what the hell - it’s the interior and 95% wont be seen


that lot will have to be left until tomorrow night before I pick them up again then I’ve got to make a decision on which build. Looks like I can assemble as the wheel bays were often painted black as it made seeing corrosion more easy in the case of the FAA. The septics painted them the colour of the undersurfaces...... but that’s the septics for you? Due care and attention? fcuk it. Pile in or shoot first and ask questions later.

onto the wing armament later this afternoon as I’m knackered again then it’s back on the fuselage.

there is a danger I may finish this one..... that will be two with the dauntless!
Honestly, that works.
anyone would think you are trying to stop my procrastination so I get to the Wokka quicker :)


back to work tomorrow...... these lads that are retired must bang through these models at a right rate of knots
For those of you who may recall me saying you should really leave the paint for 24 hours to cure.........


Shitey b0ll0cks


Let me guess, 23 hours and 59 minutes only??
May as well have been......

About three hours between primer, green and red. That will teach me for rushing


May as well have been......

About three hours between primer, green and red. That will teach me for rushing
Ouch, hopefully you can patch it rather than strip the whole wing back
Ouch, hopefully you can patch it rather than strip the whole wing back
fortunately it’s not visible so it’s only OCD that would make me sort it
Just about to pack in for the night


lovely detail on the avenger

Dunno why I’ve bothered but.....


bit of burnt umbre oil on the belts and that leather case, and panel wash on the visible panels and it’s getting close to sealing

and I bit of gun grey on the base cost of that gun
The OCD is strong in this one......


still ill by the way

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