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V-156-B1 Chesapeake

Academy 1/48 V-156-B1 Chesapeake Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2019 Manufacturer Academy
Subject V-156-B1 Chesapeake Scale 1/48
Kit Number 12330 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Nice subject Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $39.00

First Look

V-156-B1 Chesapeake
V-156-B1 Chesapeake
V-156-B1 Chesapeake
V-156-B1 Chesapeake

The SB2U Vindicator was one of several designs for scout bombers that the US Navy procured in mid-1934 to transition the Navy's combat aircraft from biplane to low-wing monoplane. In addition to the SB2U, two other notable aircraft in this category were Douglas' TBD Devastator and Northrop's BT-1.

The SB2U first flew in January 1936 and delivered to the US Navy in July of that year. The prototype was lost a month later when the crew maneuvered into a high speed stall at low altitude and spun into the ground. In spite of the accident, the Navy awarded Vought a contract for 54 SB2U-1 aircraft in October 1936. These aircraft would equip several bombing squadrons and serve the Navy well between the wars. In January 1938, the Navy ordered 58 additional Vindicators with some minor changes in internal equipment. These aircraft were designated SB2U-2 and were externally identical to the SB2U-1. While whole squadrons were initially equipped with the SB2U-2, it didn't take long with attrition replacements for the Bombing Squadrons to be equipped with a mixture of SB2U-1s and SB2U-2s. The SB2U-1 and SB2U-2 were essentially obsolete by the time the US entered World War 2, though a number of them served aboard the USS Ranger conducting anti-submarine patrols in the Atlantic until replaced by the SBD Dauntless in mid-1942.

You'll remember the Vindicator kits produced by Accurate Miniatures more than a decade ago before the company ceased operations. Like many of the other nice toolings from A-M, the folks at Academy have been periodically reissuing them and their first release for the Vindicator tooling is this V-156-B1 Chesapeake. The Chesapeake was the export version that saw service with the Royal Navy and French Navy during late 1930s but were considered too underpowered to be effective in combat.

The cockpit interior detailing is very nice. Starting with the rib and stringer detailing inside the fuselage halves, there is some very nice molding done here. There are naturally ejector pin marks inside the fuselage halves (how else could they get these parts off the molds?) but they are placed in areas not visible after assembly. Very nice engineering here. The cockpit interior is replicated very thoroughly, right down to the curved pilot's floor that is actually the top of the wing. The side framing in the front and rear cockpits with all of the associated detailing is also well done. Take your time here as you'll need to do lots of dry-fitting to understand where everything goes and how it fits together. Photo-etched seat belts are included for the front and rear cockpits.

One of the biggest complaints about the original Vindicator (and other subjects) from Accurate Miniatures was the instructions. Academy has reworked the instructions and you'll finally find a step-by-step layout that is easily followed.

Externally, the kit features your choice of open or closed cowl flaps, raised or lowered landing gear, open or closed canopies, and your choice of training or full-sized bombs, or even a centerline fuel tank.

Markings are included for seven examples:

  • V-156-B, AL924, K, 811 Sqn, FAA, NAS Lee-on Solent, 1941
  • V-156-B, AL918, F, 811 Sqn, FAA, NAS Lee-on Solent, 1941
  • V-156-B, AL943, FAA
  • V-156-B, AL912, FAA
  • V-156-F, No.20, 10, Escadrille AB1, Boulogne-Alprech, 1939-1940
  • V-156-F, No.7, 6, Escadrille AB1, Boulogne-Alprech, 1939-1940
  • V-156-F, No.12, ABI-12, Escadrille AB1, Boulogne-Alprech, 1939-1940

It has been over eight years since the last time this kit was available and it is nice to see it in proper shape. The sink marks that plagued the first A-M released were resolved on the second release, but A-M could never get the canopy paint masks properly sized - Academy has solved that in this release. In short, this is the Vindicator we've been waiting for! Whether you build this in British or French colors, or visit Yellow-Wings Decals for a variety of U.S. Navy options, this kit will look great on your scale flightline!

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!

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