Accurate Miniatures 1/48 SBD-2 Dauntless Kit First Look
|Date of Review||September 2005 (Updated July 2011)||Manufacturer||Accurate Miniatures|
|Kit Number||480310||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nice detailing inside and out||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$39.98|
Douglas Aircraft Company developed the SBD Dauntless in a pre-war competition for the 'next generation' carrier dive bomber. The aircraft was two-place monoplane of all-metal construction (except for the flight control surfaces) powered by the Wright R1820 radial engine. One notable feature of the SBD was that it was the last of the carrier aircraft to enter service without the ability to fold its wings for more efficient aircraft storage.
The SBD-1 entered production in 1940 armed with a pair of 50 caliber machine guns in the nose and a single rearward firing 30 caliber in the rear cockpit, as well as a centerline bomb station that used a trapeze mechanism to release the bomb safely beneath the propeller arc.
The SBD-2 was actually the last 87 SBD-1s in the production batch that had its fuel capacity increased by 100 gallons and the installation of an autopilot to assist with the longer over-water flights. The additional fuel increased the range of the aircraft to over 1,000 miles, but the additional weight of the fuel caused many of the aircraft in the field to be stripped of one of its two 50 caliber machine guns and ammunition to compensate.
By the time the US entered WW2, the SBD-3 was entering the fleet, but SBD-2s were out in the middle of the action during the raids on the Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, Wake Island, and New Guinea. By the Battle of Coral Sea however, the SBD-2 had been replaced by SBD-3s.
Accurate Miniatures continues to round out the SBD Dauntless series, with the venerable SBD-2 featured in this release. As with the previous kits in this series, the kit is molded in light gray styrene and its detail is still awesome to view. This kit is presented on six trees of gray parts, plus a single tree of clear parts.
Comparing this kit to the SBDs of other manufacturers, the first place you'll look is at the dive brakes. With the others, these flaps are usually solid, or in one case, represented with photoetch. While photoetch is usually a good thing, especially for the perforated details, it lacks the ability to replicate the internal structure of the flaps. This kit's dive flaps/brakes are styrene, nicely perforated, and complete with all of the internal details. These internal details are especially visible after you paint the internal surfaces red.
One of the most visible and important areas of any aircraft kit is the cockpit, and Accurate Miniatures doesn't fail here. Where the other kits benefit from an aftermarket cockpit detail set, the Accurate Miniatures kit is far more detailed than most of the aftermarket sets I've seen for the SBD.
Another nice touch with this kit is your choice of two canopies - one closed up, and one forward canopy, center canopy, gunner's canopy and rear canopy all as separate parts. With either choice, the windscreen is a separate part.
To make matters even better, a set of window masks are also provided to make the job of painting all of that glass less of a pain in the glass.
Markings are provided to replicate any of the USMC Dauntlesses on Midway Island from VMSB-241 during the defense of Midway, 4 June 1942.
Interesting that there are no markings for the USN SBD-2s of USS Lexington nor USS Enterprise in the kit. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the two former Marines working at Accurate Miniatures and no Navy representation to offset the influence. As I am reminded by a former Marine colleague at my 'day job', the Marines are a department of the Navy - the men's department.
As with every other release from Accurate Miniatures, this kit is a beauty straight from the box and if you have one of the correct kits, this is a straightforward build. With all of the detail in this kit, less experienced modelers should study the instructions and take their time assembling the model. The results are worth it.
Thanks to Accurate Miniatures for this review sample!