Accurate Miniatures 1/48 SBD-4 Dauntless Kit First Look
|Date of Review||April 2006 (Updated July 2011)||Manufacturer||Accurate Miniatures|
|Kit Number||480312||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nice detailing inside and out||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||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-4 was an incremental improvement over the SBD-3 which was highlighted by the replacement of the aircraft's 12 volt electrical system with a 24 volt system. This change allowed a wider range of avionics options including the installation of the ASB radar. Due to shortages of radar sets, early production SBD-4 aircraft reached the field without radars, but late production SBD-4s came with the radar pre-installed. In addition, a new propeller and fuel pumps rounded out the improvements over the SBD-3.
By the time the SBD-4s were entering service, the Navy was experiencing operational problems with the Dauntless' lack of folding wings. On the larger CV-series of aircraft carriers, there was enough deck and hangar space to store the aircraft, but they were troublesome in the narrow confines of the 'Jeep' Escort Carriers (CVE). Land-based operations were not affected by the lack of folding wings and the SBD found its way into USMC and allied air forces.
Accurate Miniatures continues to round out the SBD Dauntless series with this installment covering the SBD-4. As with the previous releases in this series, the kit is molded in light gray styrene and its detail is still awesome to view. This kit is presented on five 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.
Markings are provided to replicate one of the following seven aircraft:
- SBD-4, NZ5034, 25 Sqn, RNZAF, Espiritu Santo, 1944
- SBD-4, NZ5024, 25 Sqn, RNZAF, Seagrove, 1944
- SBD-4, 22-C-13, VC-22, USN, USS Independence, 1943
- SBD-4, 13, VC-22, USN, USS Independence, 1943
- SBD-4, 22-C-14, VC-22, USN, USS Independence, 1943
- SBD-4, 14, VC-22, USN, USS Independence, 1943
- SBD-4, MAG-23, USMC, Whenaupai, 1943
It appears the illustrator was in a bit of a hurry with the decal instructions. The VC-22 example(s) above are marked as the same aircraft on the same day (14 April 1943?) with different markings, and both aircraft have all-white fuselage roundels (I don't think so Tim...). These profiles almost make these two SBDs look Japanese!
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!