Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless
by Randy Lutz
Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless
Miniatures' 1/48 scale SBD-3/4 is available online from Squadron.com
Dauntless In The Box
Here is my 1/48 scale SBD-5 Dauntless from Accurate Miniatures.
The packaging is typical Accurate Miniatures style, with a painting of the
subject on the box top, and a photograph of a completed model on the bottom.
Inside, the main parts to the model are wrapped in plastic, while the decal
sheet and the clear parts are individually wrapped and placed beneath a
protective cardboard liner. These are the little things that made Accurate
Miniatures stand apart from the other players in the industry.
With this kit, AM had changed the layout of the instruction sheet. In the past,
all painting instructions were grouped on the last page and involved lots of
flipping back and forth to identify parts and then determine which colour they
should be. However, the Dauntless was a departure from their previous releases,
as each separate assembly step has painting instructions. While not appearing as
a major improvement, I found it sure made things easier. What did not change in
the instructions, were the detailed assembly notes. A word of advice is in
order. Read them and follow the sequence of assembly, as AM did not put them
there for nothing.
As for the model, the scribing is recessed and appears accurate, aside from the
extra aileron trim tab moulded on the starboard wing, which proved a little
tricky to remove without damaging the surrounding detail. In that context, I
have the impression that there is some kind of a contest out in the modelling
world to see who can be first to find fault with this kit. Complaints have
ranged from the not too bad "I think the flaps are little too short" to the
utterly ridiculous "the flare pistol should not go where indicated and the
relief tube is not open".
Yes the flaps are a little short in terms of span, but according to my
references, this is OK as the original was like this. My sample had two small
defects which were easily rectified by a phone call to AM. The main bomb was
short moulded and the underside of the wing had some irregular marks, which
while a nuisance, could have been easily corrected with a small amount of putty.
A week after my call, I had a new wing and bomb assembly.
The kit has a fully detailed interior, (yes the relief tube is there) consisting
of no less than 39 parts. I have built entire models with less parts than that!
I compared the interior components to photographs in the Detail and Scale on the
Dauntless, and the kit is right on. Included in this is the pilot's navigation
table which slides in and out of the instrument panel. It even features a decal
for the plotting grid. The instrument panel is moulded in clear plastic and has
decals which are to be applied to the back side to represent the instruments. I
elected not to use them as there are no markings printed on them. They are just
black disks. The seatbelts are represented by decals and would look fine once
installed. However, I elected to use a set of photo-etched belts. If you prefer
to use the decals, remember, you do not have to make the decals suck down into
every crevice, as they will look more convincing if they are allowed to bridge
some low spots and overlap a little.
The one area of the kit that everyone had been talking about is the flaps/dive
brakes. Hasegawa took a beating for not opening all the perforations, and AM did
not repeat that mistake. All perforations are open, and the flaps feature full
inner detail along with the actuating rods and arms, which translates into a
very complete assembly.
Two choices of canopy are provided; a one piece closed and a multi-piece open
assembly. Both sets of transparencies are thin and crystal clear.
Also included is a choice of weighted or non-weighted tires. Notice I did not
say bulged. Maybe AM had been listening to all the commentary about tires
displaying excessive sidewall deformities. A full complement of underwing stores
is provided, consisting of a 1,000 lb. bomb and two 100 lb. bombs with fully
detailed racks and trapeze mechanism. A nice touch is the inclusion of the
yellow stencil decals for the bombs. Speaking of decals, a choice of two
aircraft are provided on the decal sheet. Numbers 41 and 45, both from VB-16,
USS Lexington during the Tarawa landings. Ultimately, both aircraft were written
off due to hard landings. Accurate Miniatures provides the star and bar national
insignia in the blue and white versions, but I really feel that they should be
the short-lived blue and white star and bar which featured the red surrounds. I
based this opinion on a good quality photo of #45 crash landing on the deck of
the Lexington, which is found in the Squadron In Action on the Dauntless. The
decals are printed in Mexico using a Disa-clear process. They rival Scalemaster
in terms of adhesion, and easily surpass Scalemaster for registration.
During construction, the only fit problem I encountered was where the trailing
edge of the lower wing meets the bottom of the fuselage. I had a gap that ran on
all three sides of the opening that was filled with styrene stock and then
sanded smooth. Other than that, the fit was perfect.
Accurate Miniatures set a very high standard with the Avenger, and the
Dauntless has easily met this level.
For anyone still stuck with the Hasegawa Dauntless, too bad! When Accurate
Miniatures' SBDs arrived, all other models of the Dauntless were rendered
Click the thumbnails below to view
Model, Images and
Article Copyright © 2001 by Randy Lutz
Page Created 22 December 2001
Last updated 04 June 2007
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