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SB2C-4 Kit

Academy 1/72 SB2C-4 Helldiver Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2005 Manufacturer Academy
Subject SB2C-4 Helldiver Scale 1/72
Kit Number 12406 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Very nicely tooled and detailed kit Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $22.00

First Look

SB2C-4 Kit
SB2C-4 Kit
SB2C-4 Kit
SB2C-4 Kit

The SB2C Helldiver was one of the most effective dive bombers developed in World War 2 and served well into the 1950s. Ironically, the Helldiver spent more time as a prototype than a combat aircraft during WW2. For those who remember the movie 'Dive Bomber' that was released before WW2, there was a silhouette of an aircraft at the end of the movie - the XSB2C-1. The Helldiver was entering flight test before the war and might have retired the Douglas SBD early if all had gone well.

By the middle of 1944, most of the bugs had been ironed out of the beast and the SB2C-4 became the standard issue of bombing and scouting squadrons. These were supplemented and were eventually replaced by the ultimate Helldiver, the SB2C-5. This version remained in active Navy service until replaced by the Douglas AD Skyraider.

The SB2C-4 picked up the fight as it phased out earlier versions and carried the war all the way to Tokyo. Some were equipped with underwing yagi antennas (ASB radar) while others were fitted with the AN/APS-4 radar pods under the starboard wing. Many SB2C-4s flew without either.

It is like "Deja Vu All Over Again". We just reviewed Accurate Miniatures' re-release of the Revell Pro-Modeler 1/48 SB2C-1C and SB2C-4 Helldivers, and both of these are on the bench getting built. So when this cool kit arrived, I expected good things, but not what I saw! In this box is very close replica of the 1/48 Pro-Modeler kit. It is NOT an exact duplicate scaled down, but VERY CLOSE, right down to the panel lines. Follow one of the two links above and look at some of the particular engineering details like the wing root openings in the fuselage, the interesting cowl mount on the front of the fuselage halves, and the weapons bay interior pattern on the weapons bay doors.

Is scaling down the Pro-Modeler kit a bad thing? Heck no! That is a nice kit straight out of the box. But the Academy Helldiver has what I'll call improvements as well. The canopies are far superior to the Pro-Modeler kit. The zero length rocket launcher stubs are molded directly to the underside of the wing, not as separate parts as the other kit. Most noticeably are the dive flaps. These are molded up and locked. If you want to perforate them, you'll either have to wait for some Eduard photo-etch or break out the pin vise.

Like the Pro-Modeler kit, the leading edge slats are molded separately as these are deployed when the landing gear is extended.

Unlike the Pro-Modeler kit, the rear gunner is armed with twin machine guns and armor plating (the Pro-Modeler kit has one gun and armor plate).

The most impressive thing (for me) in this kit are the instructions. It is clear that Academy is using a 3D CAD program in their design work as they're using nicely shaded 3D renderings of the kit parts to illustrate assembly. Kit manufacturers take notice!

Markings are provided for four aircraft:

  • SB2C-4, #80, VB-85, USS Shangri-La, June 1945
  • SB2C-4, #79, VB-85, USS Shangri-La, June 1945
  • SB2C-4, #110, VB-3, USS Yorktown, April 1945
  • SB2C-4, #47, Atlantic ASW Squadron

Very interesting. The Pro-Modeler Helldiver was easily the nicest SB2C-4 offered in any scale, so kudos to Academy for using this design as their starting point. There are some improvements that make this kit nicer than the Pro-Modeler, but the absence of positionable dive brakes is the only thing keeping me from suggesting this kit becomes the best Helldiver in any scale.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!