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Revell 1/48 SB2C-4 Helldiver Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2011 Manufacturer Revell Pro Modeler
Subject SB2C-4 Helldiver Scale 1/48
Kit Number 5983 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Nice exterior and interior detailing, photo-etched details Cons Soft canopy frame details, landing gear is a challenge
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $29.95

First Look


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 the SB2C-1Cs 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.

Revell has reissued their Pro-Modeler 1/48 SB2C-4 Helldiver kit. The last time we saw this kit, it was in an Accurate Miniatures box that featured that brand's less-than-ideal instructions. With this reissue, the standard instructions are back and are up to Revell's great standards.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and features some beautifully scribed detailing on the exterior surfaces and nice interior detailing as well. The kit is presented on three parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts and a single fret of photo-etch.

The photo-etch parts provide seatbelt buckles and gun sight details as well as an ignition harness in addition to the dive brakes.

Those of you who've built this kit already know how well this kit goes together. There are a few challengine areas most notably with the main landing gear.

The kit features beautifully detailed front and rear cockpits as well as a nice weapons bay on the flipside of the floor. A pilot's figure is also included.

The engine looks a little low-tech on the parts tree, but when treated to a good paint job, the photo-etched ignition harness and installed inside that tight cowling, you would be hard-pressed to tell it wasn't an aftermarket resin engine.

The wings are unfortunately not set up for an optional fold, but they are nicely detailed down to the stub rocket launchers, wheel wells, dive brakes and outboard slats.

One other nit to pick with the kit is that there are markings for an SB2C-4E ASW aircraft, but the kit doesn't include the AN/APS-4 radar pod.

Profiles and markings are included for two examples:

  • SB2C-4, VB-84, 201, USS Bunker Hill, 1945
  • SB2C-4, VMSB-224, 702, Mindanao, 1945

The decal sheet provides a nice set of airframe stencils in addition to the distinctive markings for each aircraft.

This kit is a detailed straight out of the box but it can be a challenging build. Nevertheless, with all of the detail in this kit, even the AMS modeler should be satisfied without many aftermarket details.

One note on this box art - the artist clearly doesn't know much about the subject since they've replicated the plastic plate between the upper and lower dive flaps in the kit (which does not exist on the real aircraft). What's more, the pilot is diving into a target without a rear gunner aboard to provide cover even though the gun is clearly installed in the artwork. The color scheme appears Navy Blue and Gray over White but it should be Navy Blue and Intermediate Blue over White, once again the artist needs to do some homework.

For a look at the build review of this kit, look here.

Thanks to Revell for this review sample!