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SB2C-4 Kit

Academy 1/72 SB2C-4 Helldiver 'Operation Iceberg' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2016 Manufacturer Academy
Subject SB2C-4 Helldiver Scale 1/72
Kit Number 12545 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Very nicely tooled and detailed kit Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $36.00

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.

Academy has reissued their excellent kit of the SB2C-4 Helldiver in 1/72 scale. We've examined this kit in the past with early releases containing only plastic followed by a special edition that offered the dive brakes and other details as photo-etched parts. When last we saw one of these special editions six years ago, Academy was including the photo-etched parts produced by Eduard. Since that time, it looks like Academy is producing their own photo-etched parts or at least keeping their own brand on the photo-etch frame.

In our previous looks at this kit, I compared the details against the 1/48 Pro Modeler (Monogram) kit which I've built in the past. The one improvement Academy has done with this kit is provided much easier landing gear to attach (thank you!).

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed front and rear cockpits
  • Crew restraints provided as decals
  • Bomb bay doors are positioned open
  • Two bombs on trapeze launchers provided in bomb bay
  • Leading edge slat is postionable
  • Canopies are positionable
  • Rear turtle deck is molded up/guns stowed
  • Flight controls are all molded in neutral/centered position
  • Flaps/dive brakes are positionable (closed as molded or open/deployed using photo-etch parts)

This kit represents three aircraft that took part in Operation Iceberg, the codename for the bloody battle for Okinawa. Markings are provided for three aircraft:

  • SB2C-4E, 15, VB-16, USS Randolph, 1945
  • SB2C-4E, 205, VB-84, USS Bunker Hill, 1945
  • SB2C-4, 110, VB-3, USS Yorktown, 1945

The decal sheet also has a nice set of maintenance stencils so you'll have an eye-catching set of markings when you're finished.

This is still the nicest Helldiver in 1/72 scale with the limited edition versions offering the nice photo-etched dive brakes in the kits. What's more, it is nice to see that the MSRP has only gone up $2.00 in six years so this remains a good value as well.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!