|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver was a carrier-based dive bomber aircraft produced for the United States Navy during World War II. It replaced the Douglas SBD Dauntless in US Navy service. Despite its size, the SB2C was much faster than the SBD it replaced.
Crew nicknames for the aircraft included the Big-Tailed Beast (or just the derogatory Beast), Two-Cee and Son-of-a-Bitch 2nd Class (after its designation and partly because of its reputation for having difficult handling characteristics). Neither pilots nor aircraft carrier skippers seemed to like it.
Delays marred its production; by the time the A-25 Shrike variant for the USAAF was deployed in late 1943, the Army Air Forces no longer had a role for a dive bomber. Other factors also contributed in its service introductions, due to the poor handling of the aircraft, both the British Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force cancelled substantial orders for the type.
The Truman Committee investigated Helldiver production and turned in a scathing report, which eventually led to the beginning of the end for Curtiss. Although production problems persisted throughout its combat service, it was reported that some pilots soon changed their minds favorably about the potency of the Helldiver, and in spite of its problems, the aircraft was flown through the last two years of the Pacific War with a fine combat record, due to the high training of its crews.
This is the second Helldiver boxing from Cyberhobby and it is pretty much the same as the earlier kit, though there are differences. This is a welcome kit as previously, the SB2C was released by Airfix, then Matchbox, then a long period of time with no new Helldiver releases in this scale until Academy did theirs a few years back. Now we have one from our friends in Hong Kong.
Though I have listed all of the goodies from the Cyber-hobby PR folks, a few things I though was neat. First of all, the rocket rails are a wing insert, which tells me that other versions are going to be done. Hopefully the -5, a version that has never been kitted and was used post-war by the French. Another is that you get the option to have the rear fuselage section raised or lowered and it is well done with different inserts for each. Though the instructions show that all the clear bits allegedly have options, there are none. I am not sure if the canopy sections can be stacked in the open position, but I sincerely hope so. I would have liked to have seen rockets, but one can always rob them from another kit.
The kit does include photo-etch for the dive brakes and belts and these are very nicely done. This is the biggest difference from the earlier -4 kit where these were perforated. There is no indication as to if the dive brakes should be red on the inside or not so I will be doing mine in the exterior color. As with many new kits, this one can be built wheels up, though no display stand is included. Bomb bay doors can be displayed open or closed and the twin bomb cradle assembly is nicely done as is the well done interior detail. So here is the rest:
Intricate SB2C-3 Helldiver w/newly tooled photo-etched dive-brakes
- Newly designed propeller
- Ailerons can be assembled in different positions
- Rudder and aileron can be assembled in different positions
- Delicate details molded on wings
- Wings can be assembled extended/folded
- Folding-wing mechanism rendered w/fine details
- Two 500 lb bombs included
- Cockpit and bomb bay interior forms separate drop-in assembly
- Fully-detailed landing gear compartment
- Authentic machine gun can be stowed/deployed
- Realistic engine exhibits delicate detail
- Detailed cockpit canopy made from crystal-clear parts
- Cockpit interior details including pilot's seat and control panel
- Landing gear realistically produced
- Intricate arrester hook molded on SB2C-3
There are markings for two units. All markings options are in the tri-color scheme. First two shown are from VB-7 aboard USS Hancock in 1944. There is an additional set of number for aircraft 112 included on the sheet. The other markings are without any distinctive wing marks and is from VB-80 aboard USS Ticonderoga in 1944. I can only assume that not many units used the -3 or one would think that there would be a greater variety of tail markings. Decals are nicely done and should provide no issues. I also think that the aftermarket crowd will soon be providing other options.
As you can see, this is a very nice kit, but then so is the older Academy boxing. I have not heard the usual lambasting of this kit so apparently those who have built it have been pleased with the results.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours at your local shop or have them order it for you
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