Flyhawk 1/72 SBD-3 Dauntless

KIT #: FH 6001
PRICE: $23.00 plus shipping
DECALS: Several options
NOTES: May be the one we've been waiting for


I'll cheat here, referring readers to Tom Cleaver's excellent history of the SBD-3 Dauntless and Dick Best's role in the Battle of Midway:

The Douglas SBD Dauntless struck young-modeler me, in the early 1970s, as a sturdy-looking monoplane with the neatest dive-brakes on earth, and the brakes were painted red! I knew, too, that it contributed more to the turning point of the Pacific war than any other single type. I recall building one in 1/48 back then, likely a blue-box Monogram kit. It probably sat on a nearby shelf as I fought and refought the battle using Avalon Hill's still excellent board game, Midway.

That naval aviators were reluctant to give up a plane deemed obsolescent in 1941 says much about the Dauntless. The Curtiss Helldiver that began replacing it in 1943, though a newer design, never won over the hearts of those who flew it in quite the same manner as its predecessor. Ironically, both Dauntless and Helldiver marked the end of the line for an entire category of aircraft. After the war, dive-bombing continued, but dedicated dive-bombers vanished from inventories as weapons of war. That said, the legend of the SBD has endured.


The recent film Midway had its flaws, but it did a fine job of emphasizing Best's heroic sacrifice in the battle. I knew I'd want to build his aircraft. I've long wanted to make a collection of Midway birds in my preferred scale. My problem: none of the 1/72 kits on the market seemed to be accurate or easy to build. Forum respondents at several modeling sites lamented the lack of such a kit. I'd hoped that Airfix might have a new-tool Dauntless that would equal their superb F4f-4 Wildcat, but no dice.

A few searches online turned up praise for Flyhawk's kit. I ordered it via an eBay seller and was told to expect delivery from China in 3 months! Luckily, it turned up at my door within 3 weeks, in a sturdy top-opening box with exciting artwork, depicting Best's aircraft, B1, pulling out of a dive after delivering a fatal hit on a Japanese flattop.

Unboxing reveals three sprues of medium-gray plastic with fine panel lines, a nicely detailed radial engine, wheel-wells, and interior, as well as 2 sets of canopies, with masks for painting, so the builder has the option to display them open or closed. I am impressed by the locator pins and lack of sink-marks or flash on my kit. Decals look thin and well printed, with aircraft numbers for every dive-bomber from Best's VB-6 on USS Enterprise. Just in case you have space and budget to build all 18, go for it.

And yes, the dive-brakes are pre-drilled and ready to pose open. Now there's no need to use a Dremel to make lots of holes in the trailing edge of an old Airfix kit.

Instructions, printed in color, show locations of small parts, using numbers. Text is minimal but not needed. Paint call-outs are for Mr. Hobby and Tamiya colors.


It strikes me as odd that more companies have not released modern-tool SBD-3 kits in 1/72. Flyhawk's kit will not linger in my stash as I finish up my collection of 1/72 US aircraft from Midway, then begin building up their adversaries.

This is my first Flyhawk kit. I'm now curious about their other models. At present their web page only lists AFVs in 1/72 and ships in 1/700; builders' reviews indicate that the firm has a reputation for being a leader in ship models. I could not find the Dauntless at their site but it's readily available online from resellers. I hope they release other 1/72 aircraft. Order their Dauntless and let's see how they build out. I'll hazard a guess to say that I think we have our 1/72 SBD-3, Midway modelers.

Joe Essid

November 2022

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