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SBD-5 Dauntless

Italeri 1/48 SBD-5 Dauntless Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2018 Manufacturer Italeri
Subject SBD-5 Dauntless Scale 1/48
Kit Number 2673 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Beautiful kit! Cons See text
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $39.95

First Look

SBD-5 Dauntless
SBD-5 Dauntless
SBD-5 Dauntless
SBD-5 Dauntless

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.

Italeri has reissued the Accurate Miniatures (AM) 1/48 SBD-5 Dauntless which they first put into their box back in 2008. For whatever reason, the SBD-5 is the only one of the series they've released. Eduard also released the SBD-5 in their box in 2016 along with some of their aftermarket items. Only Academy has released a different version, the SBD-2, back in 2013. These AM kits were the best models 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 with the tooling available for the SBD-1, SBD-2, SBD-3, SBD-4, as well as the SBD-5, it is odd we haven't seen more of the other variants to date. The last time AM released the SBD was when it was paired with their SB2U Vindicator back in 2007.

Of all of the variants of the SBD produced in full-scale, as mentioned above, the SBD-5 was the most numerous and it is logical that this tooling is favored. Considering what's in the box, that is not surprising. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Beautifully detailed front and rear cockpits
  • Crew restraints provided using decals
  • 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 dive/landing flaps

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 five subjects:

  • SBD-5, NZ5060, 25 Sqn, RNZAF, Piva, Bougainville, 1944
  • SBD-5, 1, VMSB-231, USMC, Marshall Islands, 1944
  • A-24B, 42-54298, 407 BG, USAAF, Amchitka, 1944
  • SBD-5, 4.F.9, 4 Flotile de Bombardement de l'Aeronavale, France, 1945
  • A-24B, 42-54298, Groupe de Combat 1/18 "Vendee", French Air Force, 1944

This kit is a beauty straight from the box, and given the variety of options produced by Eduard during their release of this kit, even the AMS modeler will be happy with this AM gem.

My sincere thanks to Italeri USA for this review sample!


My sincere thanks to Italeri SPA for this review sample!