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Accurate Miniatures 1/48 SB2U-1 Vindicator Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2005 (Updated July 2011) Manufacturer Accurate Miniatures
Subject Vought SB2U-1 Vindicator Scale 1/48
Kit Number 480200 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Typical excellent detailing Cons Poor instructions
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look


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 the TBD Devastator and Northrop's BT-1.

The XSB2U-1 Vindicator 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 SB2U-2s, 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.

The SB2U-1 is the second of the Vindicator series to be released by Accurate Miniatures. Like the SB2U-3, the kit is molded in light gray styrene and feature the usual Accurate Miniatures' exquisite detailing. The fabric covering on the wings and tail feathers is well done. The only problem that can be seen in the kit are some sink marks around the rear fuselage, but most modelers were able to remove these using Mr. Surfacer and a little sanding/shaping. Later releases of the kit have this problem fixed.

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.

Over the top of the molded-in fuselage detailing, 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. Eduard photo-etched seat belts are included for the front and rear cockpits.

Which brings me to one of my concerns about the kit. As I said above, the instructions in this kit will require some study and you'll need to do some dry-fitting of parts to understand how the assemblies are supposed to fit together. The exploded views for the cockpit assembly are marginal, though an experienced modeler can work through the challenge. The drawings for the landing gear assembly are next to useless. Accurate Miniatures needs to improve the quality of their instructions.

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.

The ignition harness on the engine is a bit on the thick side and would be best replaced with photo-etch.

One minor mystery is the wing fold option. Accurate Miniatures mentioned during the kit's development that you'll have the option to fold the wings and indeed, the wing fold parts are included in the kit. The trouble is that there is no cut line in the wings nor is there mention of this option in the instructions. If you want to fold the wings, you're on your own.

Another nice touch in this release is a complete set of transparency paint masks for the canopy.

Markings are included for one example, the CAG aircraft for USS Ranger with the fuselage roundels on the nose in neutrality patrol position, March 1940.

This is another excellent release from Accurate Miniatures. I raised the skill level for this kit to 'Experienced' due to the issues with the kit's instructions. This aircraft will definitely look nice on your shelf.

Thanks to Accurate Miniatures for this review sample!