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My Battle of Midway Tribute: TBF-1 Avenger Diorama

Updated: Jan 1, 2021

This diorama is my tribute to the brave men that fought the Battle of Midway June 4-7, 1942. The battle became a pivotal turning point of World War II.

I based my diorama scene on the after-action report of Ensign Albert K. Earnest. Not only did I try to recreate the battle damage to the TBF-1 Avenger aircraft, but I also depicted the injuries to the crew. The Naval Aviator, Ens. Earnest, had his right cheek and neck cut by shrapnel. The turret gunner, AMM3/c Jay D. Manning, was mortally wounded and the radioman, RM2/2c Harry H. Ferrier, was knocked unconscious.

The hydraulic system was hit, which caused the tail wheel to drop, making the stinger machine gun useless. The cables to the elevator were severed, causing the TBF to lose altitude. The pilot dropped his torpedo at the nearest ship, a light cruiser or destroyer, to try to lose weight. He used the trim tabs to level off and was able to crash land at Midway Island, when the right landing gear didn’t lower.

I installed a small electric motor to turn the prop, running the wires down the shell splash and put an on/off switch on the base.

The weathering and battle damage on the model had to match the reference photos that I had and I tried to copy it as close as I could.

The “ocean” was created by forming the waves with modeling clay and covering with crumpled aluminum foil. A urethane rubber mold was poured. Clear urethane resin was poured in the mold. The underside was colored translucent blue/green and the waves were highlighted with white paint. This was glued to a MDF base with the edge painted Gloss Sea Blue.

The Avenger model is the 1/48th scale Accurate Miniatures kit and was converted from a late TBF-1C to an early TBF-1.

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