The SBD Dauntless was a stalwart aircraft in the USN arsenal from the beginning of the war throughout most of the major naval engagements in the Pacific Theater. The Battle of Midway was a major engagement in the turning of the tide in the Americans favor. Accurate Miniatures’ Dauntless kits were their stalwart kits in their line—serving as the best example of the kit in 1/48 scale. It continues to be re-released by other companies with new decals and parts added here and there. In this Academy offering, the molds are starting to show their age with some flash and warpage. The sink marks are plenty as well and if you’re one to fill every one up- even the no-see-ems, you’ll have your work cut out for you.
What’s Inside the Box
The kit contents come in a nice sturdy box and includes the following well-packed bits:
- 1 clear sprue with options for a completely closed canopy or parts to have it open
- 6 grey sprues
- 1 PE fret with seat belts and buckles for both seats
- Masking set
- Decal sheet featuring stencils and markings for three schemes
As usual, construction begins with the cockpit “office”. As per the usual Accurate Miniatures builds, the side panels and radio gunner rear wall are added, followed by work on the cockpit floor and instrument panel. In step 3, the rear control stick that the radio gunner used in emergencies is shown attached. This was normally stowed on the side so I removed it and attached it in its place. After this, the seats had their belts attached and they were installed along with the radio set. At this point the gunner’s seat would be added in, but I have completely no idea where it went…I imagine I’ll come across it at some point, but I decided to close the canopies up and hide its absence.
At this point the two fuselage halves were put together, but whether it was just a fluke or due to the age of the molds, I could not get things to mate cleanly. Maybe due to some warping or whatever reason, lining it up exactly on the front end made the back end slightly off. I did get it mostly together but due to all the pieces already assembled, I couldn’t try fixing the warp. You add the cockpit floor to the fuselage and then the bottom and top halves of the wings, elevators, and tailhook.
Work on the cowling and engine commences next. There was quite a bit of flash on my engine face around the pipes…so I carefully trimmed as best as I could, but the bits are quite thin. The main landing gear are next—not too much detail on the wheels themselves as per usual for AM, and no real definite attachment points for them going into the wing bottom. It looks like they should fit right into the slots, but despite this and waiting 24 hours, when I set the plane upright, one of the gear legs started to spread out. The dive flaps and their attachments, as well as the three bombs, are next. After this were all the remaining small bits- the telescope sight, radio loop, lifting cable, and front cowl ring.
Masking the canopies was next and the masks worked quite well. One of the masks is mislabeled in the directions though- the one for clear part I8—mask 26 does not fit. Fitting them in place however proved to be a bit of a mess—as you can see from the rear side, the fuselage is a bit too wide for the rear-most canopy piece. I am not sure if the full canopy part has similar fit issues as I had thrown it away thinking of showing off the detail…bad mistake. Lastly are the propeller and hub, pitot tube, exhaust stubs, and antenna mast. The kit fit ok but there were alignment issues as one of my photos shows—but in the end, it looks like a Slow But Deadly.
Painting and Weathering
The three included schemes are:
- Version 1 - and SBD-2 from Midway based VMSB-241, June 1942
- Version 2 - that I chose - SBD-2 from VB-2, “Hit and Run” Raids of March 1942
- Version 3 - a pre-war SBD-2 from VB-2, January 1941 for your NMF fix
I used Vallejo Model Air USN Blue Gray and Light Gray for the paint scheme. Masks performed excellent with no bleed through. I used Tamiya Panel Line wash to bring out the detail. Decals went on well. The tail decal requires you to paint the tail white and then add the red striping on top.
I have built a handful of the Accurate Miniature kits, including all variants of the Dauntless, as well as a couple Avenger kits. This kit from Academy shares a great lineage of some of the best kits in 1/48, but the molds seem to be showing their age from the original base kit from 1997. I don’t remember there being so much flash, and the warping of the fuselage was a bit challenging. The details inside still make things shine though. The new decals went down well and give some new schemes as options. In the end, one can still end up with a nice looking Dauntless in quarter scale—but I suggest mating the fuselage halves up first before you add the details so you can be sure of what you’re dealing with. My thanks to MRC and IPMS-USA for the review kit sample.