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Readers’ Gallery: Tom Dye’s 1/48 Monogram TBD-1 Devastator

Agape forum member Tom Dye (spitguy) reminisces about his struggle swith Monograms TBD-1 Devastator… and then his ultimate victory over the plastic! Looks great Tom!

I was only 15…as I walked into the People’s Drug store after school that afternoon to look at the model airplanes (a weekly habit), I spotted her.  I had never seen such beauty – amazing colors, strange markings, and complex, yet aerodynamic lines.  I had to have her.  After saving up for several weeks – I claimed my prize – the 1/48 Monogram TBD-1.  I had built only Monogram kits as a kid and I knew this kit would be equally simple to build – after all they would not put out a difficult kit to build?  I was a little wary of pulling off that yellow wings paint scheme.  However, I had my trusty brushes and little bottles of Testor’s enamel – I felt ready for the challenge.  I started in that weekend.

Oh, the humanity.  The huge gaps in the wings.  The ill-fitting wing hinges – the outer wings always falling off.  Those strange doors underneath the pilot – are they really supposed to fit that opening?  The gap in the wing trailing edge where it meets the fuselage underside.  I soldier on – using tube glue and Testor’s putty – fingerprints, globs, melted plastic…surely once I start painting those beautiful colors, it will start to look as good as the kit on the box!  The gloppy enamel lays down in thick carpets, obliterating detail.  I am near tears – it won’t even look close to the kit on the box.  I surrender in tears – I toss it in the box and hide it deep down  in the trash never to be seen again.  Hey, I wonder if that girl I saw at the pool would go to the movies with me?  So ended my early model building career – devastated by the 1/48 Monogram TBD-1 (and encouraged by hormones).

Fast forward 31 years…after reading “A Dawn Like Thunder” my inner fire for the TBD-1 is re-ignited.  I capture the factory sealed Monogram Classics version of the kit at the 2010 Birmingham (AL) model show for $20.  The guy who sells it to me says, “Watch out for how those wings fit!”  I smile back and say I am ready…bring it on.  My discipline and patience sharpened by decades of working for others, my eyes weakened by decades of staring at a computer screen, and my middle section softened by decades of barbecue and soft drinks, I am ready for my quest.  I shall conquer her…

I am pleased with the result, but whew! All the colors, masking, gap filling, sanding, and canopy framing really put me to the test.  One major difference from the box picture, is I have modeled 2-T-1 before the unit earned their “E” as I had a decal malfunction.  I think I am ready for a less complicated build.  Just like when I was a boy, I have really enjoyed looking at this beautiful model aircraft.  This is a big model – I am going to have to clear some space to display it properly.