Cybermodeler Online

Celebrating 24 years of hobby news and reviews




The appearance of U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Defense, or NASA imagery or art does not constitute an endorsement nor is Cybermodeler Online affiliated with these organizations.


  • Facebook
  • Parler
  • Twitter
  • RSS
  • YouTube


Academy 1/48 SBD-5 Dauntless Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2018 Manufacturer Academy
Subject SBD-5 Dauntless Scale 1/48
Kit Number 12329 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Nice detailing inside and out Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $39.00

First Look


The 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. The Dauntless was a dive bomber, the steeper the dive, the more likely the bomb will go where you're aiming after release. Like other USN dive bombers, the SBD employed split flaps that doubled as dive brakes to keep the aircraft from accelerating beyond its maximum speed and ripping the wings off the aircraft. Consequently, when the bomb is released, it will accelerate away from the diving bomber. To keep the bomb that is hung on the centerline bomb rack from falling through the spinning propeller (a bad thing), a trapeze mechanism was used to swing the bomb out below the propeller arc during release.

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. The SBD-5 received a 1200 horsepower engine and would become the most-produced version of the Dauntless series with over 2400 were built, with some sent to the Royal Navy, RNZAF, Free French and Mexican Air Forces.

The Accurate Miniatures SBD-series kits were first released over ten years ago before the company was eventually shuttered. Even so, these AM kits were the best kits of the SBD in any scale for a time until Trumpeter released their 1/32 Dauntlesses. To date however, nobody has produced a better kit of the SBD in 1/48 scale and it is only logical that these SBD kits would be sold in other companies' boxes. To date, the A-M SBD kits have appeared in Italeri, Eduard, and Academy boxes.

Starting with the basic Accurate Miniatures kit, this offers the following features and options:

  • Beautifully detailed front and rear cockpits
  • Twin .50 cal machine guns in rear cockpit
  • Choice of decals or photo-etched parts for crew restraints
  • Clear instrument panel with decal-based instrument faces which were applied to the back of the panel to simulate the clear glass and depth of the instruments (you masked the instrument windows and painted the rest of the instrument panel face
  • Detailed radio and radar set in rear cockpit
  • Choice of one-piece cockpit enclosure (canopies closed) or individual segments for open canopies
  • Positionable flaps
  • Yagi radar antennas
  • Yellow-tape window masks for all of those framed windows

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.

Markings are provided to replicate one of the following three subjects:

  • SBD-5, 36, VB-6, USS Enterprise, 1944
  • SBD-5, 9, VB-5, USS Yorktown, 1944
  • SBD-5, 1, VMSB-231, Marshall Islands, 1944, 'Ace of Spades'

This kit is a beauty straight from the box and there is little else you might want to complete this model. If you don't have an SBD-5 in your collection, this is going to be the best of them all in 1/48 scale. Be careful not to invest in the various photo-etch sets that tend to overcomplicate or add minimal improvements to this kit's out-of-the-box details.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!