Hasegawa 1/48 SBD-3 Dauntless

KIT #: 09119 (Jt 19)
PRICE: $28.00 or so
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Ralph Koziarski
NOTES: Also available in special boxing with perforated dive breaks


Anybody interested in the US Navy’s premier dive-bomber from World War II would not be ill-advised to read the very interesting and entertaining histories of the aircraft and its crews on Mr. Tom Cleaver’s reviews of the Accurate Miniatures kits found on this very site. Suffice to say, the “Slow But Deadly” served admirably in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Mediterranean and was instrumental in the sinking of countless Axis vessels. 


This kit is Hasegawa’s standard fare. Upon opening the box you see several gray sprues with crisply molded parts with recessed panel lines, a decal sheet with three options, a few poly-caps and a separately bagged sprue of very nicely done clear parts. Panel lines are of the recessed variety, but I did not check plans to see if all the appropriate “aircraft topography” is there. Hasegawa tends to oversimply surface details, and I would not be surprised if this kit is not par for the course. Other details are oversimplified or lacking entirely. The cockpit really can’t hold a candle to the Accurate Miniatures kit, and consists of no more than 10-12 parts. Especially poor, are the twin .30cal machine guns and mount in the rear, and the simple black and white instrument panel decals. The main bomb harness also lacks adequate detail, and the under-wing pylons are simply two bars of plastic. Perhaps the grossest oversight is the lack of perforated dive breaks. The 360 perforations are instead represented by shallow depressions in the plastic. Hasegawa have released a version of this kit that comes with PE breaks which are perforated and can be modeled in a deployed position, but this will cost you extra. This level of detail would be more than adequate in 1/72, but Hasegawa really could have tried a little bit harder for 1/48th scale, especially considering the price of the kit.


Construction began the somewhat Spartan cockpit which consisted of a floor, sidewalls, multi-piece pilot’s seat, gunner’s ring mount/seat, instrument panel bulkheads and decals, along with several knobs, sticks and other miscellany. This was all sprayed interior green then given an oil wash in black and raw umber. The various boxes, knobs, and switches were painted black with silver and red details. In an attempt to improve the poor instrument panel decals, I first sprayed them with flat coat and then applied a small dot of Krystal Klear to each dial to simulate the glass covering. I fashioned belts from masking tape for both the pilot’s and gunner’s seats. The configuration of these harnesses is entirely fictional, but I’m very much the Impressionist when it comes to aircraft interiors.

One element which gave me trouble here was the gunner’s seat/ring mount. This assembly is rather fragile as the seat attaches to the ring via two thin rods which had very little contact surface, making it very difficult to align everything. Mine came out somewhat wonky, so I ended up gluing the seat-pan to the floor and sandwiching the ring mount between the sidewalls separately, once the machine guns went in, it was impossible to tell that anything was off.

 With the cockpit completed, it was enclosed between the two fuselage halves which went together without any problems. Do not do what I did and fill the seam on the panel immediately aft of the cockpit. On a real SBD, this is a set of doors which open down the center to allow the machine guns to be stowed inside the fuselage when not in firing position. Next I painted and attached the various parts of the motor, and assembled and painted the 1000lb (?) bomb. It was then time to fit the wings.

 Before the wings could be attached, and actually before I did any other real construction I had to do something about those awful dive-breaks. I contemplated buying an aftermarked set, but figured I had spent too much on the kit already, so I decided to begin drilling out each hole with my pin vise. I told myself I would do four holes at a time in well spaced sessions. Even with four at a time, this proved to be such a tedious venture, that I lost patience and pulled out the ol’ Black& Decker power drill. This made the going a lot easier, but the pressure exerted by the larger drill did cause the plastic around the holes to snap in a few locations. The ungainly tool also made aiming somewhat difficult resulting a few off-center perforations. These were small errors that were easily fixed with some strategically placed epoxy-putty. In the end, only one perforation on the bottom starboard break looked truly off. Well within allotted “screw-up” boundaries for me. After about four days of this nonsense, I had my breaks perforated and could assemble the wings. These went together without any further trouble and very neatly fit the fuselage. The horizontal stabilizers went on after the wings, and the engine cowl was temporarily fitted as well. I left it unattached at this stage to ease the installation of exhaust stubs after painting. Finally it came time to see what I could do about positioning the canopy open.

 Hasegawa provides you with a single piece closed canopy, as well as a segmented one, but the segments are too thick to really position open. To get around this I sanded down the framing on the segment between the pilot and gunner until I was able to slide the pilot’s canopy over it. I then shaved down the base of the gunner’s canopy until it fit beneath the above mentioned piece. The very tail piece which should fit under everything else was left off, as there was no way to jam it under everything else. Way to go Hasegawa! The pieces were masked off with Tamiya tape and sprayed with interior green, followed by a shot of my home mixed USN medium blue.


All the options provided in the kit are intermediate blue over light-gray so I wanted to due something to break up the monotonous scheme. I sprayed the entire kit in black and then began to build up successive mist coats of Poly Scale Light-Grey on the bottom and Tamiya medium blue mixed with light-gray up top. Unlike typical preshading, I didn’t want a uniform light-center with dark edges within each panel, as this can look somewhat cartoonish if not done just right. Instead I went for a slightly more random effect, building up more paint in some panels than others, and generally trying to keep things lighter as I got to the upper surfaces. The result is not unlike traditional preshading, but its random nature makes it more natural in my opinion. And for me, this method is much easier than preshading along panel lines and then trying to maintain the same level of spray when filling in the spaces between them. Once dry, the model was given a coat of floor polish and decaled.

 The three options provided by Hasegawa are the famous S-12 from the Battle of the Coral Sea, an Operation Torch airplane from the USS Ranger, with attractive yellow rings around the fuselage roundels, and the less flashy version seen here, from the USS Yorktown during the Battle of Midway.

 The Coral Sea dauntless would have been far more colorful, but beware. To model that aircraft you need to replace the twin .30 mount with a single .30 cal machine gun, and do not apply the kill markings, as those were featured only on a demonstration aircraft after the real S-12 sank aboard the Lexington.

Decals went on without a hitch and conformed nicely to the surface with the aid of Micro-set. After the decals dried, the model was given a light wash of raw umber/black oils (heavier in the gear wells and in a few streaks around them to simulate fluid leaks), a few paint chips applied with a toothpick, and a very light mist coat of about 85% thinner 15% white paint. This was sprayed in a few quick passes from about a foot-and-a-half away in order to tone down the colors on the decals and to added further to the fading effect. A coat of MM Acrylic flat clear, finished the paint session.


Once painting was completed, the landing gear, arrestor hook, bomb, machine guns, and canopy segments were all painted and attached. These components all fit without any kind of issues, with the exception of the windscreen. This proved to be a simple fix, as all I needed to do was widen the opening for the bomb-sight, after which, the windscreen slid right into place. The antenna mast was glued into place, and navigation lights were painted when I realized I still had to finish the prop.

 I was not sure if SBD-3’s at Midway would feature the tri-color prop tips or if by then they had been standardized with the yellow tip, but always in search of an excuse for a splash of color, I opted for the more difficult to paint, but ultimately prettier looking yellow/red/blue tips. Beside’s Tom Cleaver’s Midway SBD on this site has the same finish, and he seems to have really done his homework.



Despite the kit’s lack of details, it builds into a very attractive SBD. The lack of cockpit detail does not bother me much, as I don’t look in there too often, and externally the kit looks spot on. I would have liked to build this model with deployed dive breaks, but that I can live without as well. However, the mind-numbing sessions spent drilling out the dive breaks really killed the fun factor with this model. This hobby should be enjoyable, and yes, challenging, but it should never become a chore. If I had to build another SBD, I really doubt it would be this one, especially considering that a few extra dollars would have gotten me the superior Accurate Miniatures kit

 Final Tally

Value: C-

Accuracy/Detail: B-

Options: B

Fun Factor: D+

Ralph Koziarski

September 2008

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