Monogram 1/48 SBD Dauntless
KIT #: 5212
PRICE: $
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Lee Fogel
NOTES:  An old classic that can still shine with some extra work

HISTORY

The Douglas SBD Dauntless was a naval dive bomber made by Douglas during World War II. The SBD was the United States Navy's main dive bomber from mid-1940 until late 1943, when it was supplanted, although not entirely replaced, by the SB2C Helldiver.   

THE KIT

Since the mid 1990ís the 1/48 scale modeling world has had their pick between the Hasegawa and Accurate Miniatures SBD Dauntless kits.  However, before these two kits showed up there was the Monogram SBD kit.  Released in the early 1960ís it has working features like retracting main gear, a bomb that drops and working dive flaps.  Having recently completed a Hasegawa SBD-3 I decided to backtrack a bit and see if I could build a reasonable representation out of the old Monogram kit. 

Upon opening the box we find three sprues.  Molded in black and dark blue the airframe has rivet detail and finely raised panel lines with separate dive flaps.  There is a decent amount of flash to be cleaned up especially on the black sprue.  The engine cowling front and engine are molded as one part.  The engine detail is pretty good though.  Also included are a pilot, rear gunner, LSO, deck hand, signal background and a bomb cart.  My kit had no decals but I can say that they represent the CAFís (Confederate Air Force) version of their aircraft and are thick and very glossy.  The instruction sheet is very complete and easy to read/understand.

CONSTRUCTION

 I started off by painting the cockpit Model Master Interior Green.  The rear gun ring was painted and set aside to be added upon the mating of the fuselage halves.  After doing this I picked out the details and did a mild dry brushing with Testors Silver.  Since I was missing the instrument panel decal I used a spare from a Maquette Yak-7 trainer.  It actually looks fairly close to an SBD panel and since the canopy will be closed I was not too worried about being exact.  I used Testors Clear Gloss and a toothpick to add ďglassĒ to the dial faces.  I then painted the pilot and the rear gunner using a combination of Testors, Polly S and MM paints.  Before joining the fuselage halved I modified the trigger for the bomb release.  I mounted it as the instructions said but removed the trigger portion that sticks out of the lower fuselage.  I did install the piece that sticks down to hold the bomb in place.  At this point I drilled out the molded in exhaust pipes and then joined the fuselage halves together.  I used Plastruct liquid glue for this and noticed that the hard, brittle plastic takes a bit longer to melt together.  I filled in the open area on the fuselage for the bomb release with CA glue and attached the cowling/engine front.  Make sure to paint the dive sight at this time as you will not be able to (very well) once the canopy is glued into place. 

Moving to the wings I made the choice to drill out all of the holes on the dive brakes.  Itís not near as tedious as it initially appears and is well worth the time and effort.  The inside of these parts have sink holes and raised copyright detail that needs to be sanded/filled for a perfect look.  After doing this I primed the insides with Dupli-Color Flat White Primer and then used Dupli-Color Universal Red for the finish color.  I have to comment that Monogram did this right as the Hasegawa kit fails in molding the dive flaps to the wing.  After this step I moved onto the main gear.  The kit wheels have mounting holes drilled completely through them.  To solve this I cut the wheel mounting tab in half off of the main gear and used the small piece as filler for the wheel, sanding it smooth and flat to shape.  Then I mounted the main gear in the lower wing and glued the upper wing halves to lower wing section.  The gear was left to retract and was not glued into place.  I completed the two 500lb. bombs and set them aside for painting. 

The following day I mated the fuselage to the wing section.  These assemblies fit together pretty well with a small amount of filler needed.  I attached the horizontal stabs at this time along with the pitot tube and main gear covers.  The two-piece canopy was masked with Bare Metal Foil at this time and glued into place with 15 minute epoxy.  The main wheels were painted MM flat black and the hubs painted MM Light grey with Tamiya silver for the outer ring of the hub.  The bombs were painted MM Olive Drab and set aside to be attached at the end of the build.

COLORS & MARKINGS

I had decided to use my leftover Hasegawa decals (from kit Jt 19) to finish this kit.  As the SBDs at Coral Sea were equipped with a single .30 caliber rear mount these decals would work just fine for the Monogram kit (but not the Hasegawa kitÖgo figure!).  Also, the kill markings are inaccurate and were only added stateside for display purposes.  So, I left them off.  The scheme I picked would require me to add the Hasegawa spinner cover to the prop.  I test-fit this to the Monogram prop hub and found it was a perfect fit!  So, I painted it Universal Red and used Bare Metal Foil for the aluminum ring on the backside and set it aside.  The prop was then painted MM flat black and the tips painted flat yellow.  The canopies were masked off with Bare Metal Foil and attached to the airframe.  Then the kit was painted MM Intermediate Blue over MM light Gray.  I then used MM Flat Black to paint the engine front and wing walkways.  I finished the engine off with a dry brushing of Testors Silver and Steel and painted the center hub MM Light Gull Grey.  I sprayed Testors Glosscote onto the model and used the old Hasegawa decals.  Some of them were brittle and wanted to break.  I knew this from the ones I used to finish my Hasegawa kit with.  Following Mr. Van Akenís suggestion I coated each decal with Testors Gloss Coat.  This kept them from splintering but I made sure to take my time and be careful.  This process also makes the decal take longer to separate from the backing sheet.  Solvaset was used to help the decals lay down.  The red/white vertical stab decals fit pretty well but are slightly larger than the Monogram vertical stab.  I applied both and let them dry and then trimmed off the excess decal. 

Weathering consisted of using Formula P3 Armor Wash for an oily wash on the landing gear.  For panel lines, exhaust, gear bays, wheels and gun residue I used my trusty set of chalk pastels and a .07 Pentel mechanical pencil.  The landing lights were painted using Tamiya clear red and green.  I kept weathering to a minimum as these planes had seen minimal combat leading up to the Battle of the Coral Sea.  The landing lights were painted using Tamiya clear red and green and the bombs were attached at this point. 

CONCLUSIONS

For a quick knockout that looks the part the old Monogram kit gets the job done.  Itís not detailed much in the cockpit area and the main wheels are small but with a good paint job and nice decals it will look good on your shelf.  The extra effort put into the dive flaps and small details makes a big difference.  The pilot and rear gunner help fill the plain (and not entirely correct) interior and the additional figures and accessories really round out the kit.  I would recommend replacing the kit decals though and using a set of aftermarket main wheels.  And if you do want to go all out Medallion Models made a very nice detail set for this kit.  If you can find one I recommend purchasing it.  The old KMC cockpit set should work here as well.  Donít blow this one off if you find it cheap and want to quickly knock something out.  Youíll be pleasantly surprised at how well it comes together and looks the part! 

REFERENCES

http://www.worldwar2history.info/Coral-Sea/

http://www.aviation-history.com/douglas/sbd.html

http://www.militaryfactory.com/aircraft/detail.asp?aircraft_id=297

Lee Fogel

October 2009 If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page