Kit build report: Revell’s (Monogram’s!) 1/48 SBD Dauntless

Kit build report: Revell’s (Monogram’s!) 1/48 SBD DauntlessForget you’re probably middle-aged, have a paunch, and argue about the number of rivets on the wing of a P-40N-5 for fun on a modeling forum. Think back to when model building had a real purpose: close-air support….

The American and British soldiers stood nervously in their trenches, watching the advancing German troops, augmented with some alien guy with bug eyes. Two giant Tiger tanks rolled along, flanked by some artillery and another non-descript tank that was there because it was gray.

The firing starts….. soldiers on both sides drop. A rock tumbles out of the sky and wipes out a good part of the Allied trench line. The Tigers roll closer, closer…..

Suddenly, the buzzing sound of a plane approaching. The Allied soldiers look up, high, high into the sun. Barely a speck, the plane noses over into a dive. Faster it goes, the pilot opening it’s dive brakes, flashing their red color. At the last moment, as the commander of the Tiger tanks looks up with knowing finality, a bomb swings away from the dive cradle, obliterating the Axis advance. The Allied soldiers cheer wildly as the blue and gray plane flies off into the sunset, to await it’s next call to battle.

Ladies and gentleman, I’m pleased to re-introduce you to the classic Revell (Monogram…) 1/48 SBD Dauntless.

Front view of Revell’s SBD DauntlessIf you built models in the 60′s and 70′s in the US (and perhaps elsewhere), then you recall Monogram’s SBD kit. It was as much toy as model. The landing gear worked, the propeller turned, the wheels rolled, the dive flaps popped open. And of course, the bomb and it’s cradle really worked.

Times have changed. Revell bought Monogram. Models are less toys for youngsters and have become a hobby (dare I say obsession) for a lot of the same folks who built them as a kid. Thankfully though, the Dauntless is still the same.

Copyright 1960 stamped on Revell’s SBDRight down to the stamp in the bomb cradle area that says “Copyright 1960″. This kit is older than me by 7 years.

I have to admit, I built this entirely for the joy of building. Pure Nostalgia. I decided to forego a lot of after-market parts to bring it up to date. I didn’t sweat whether it’s a -3, -4 or -5 SBD. And I built it so all the parts work.

Cockpit of the Revell SBD DauntlessThe kit itself is simple enough. The shape is about right. The cockpit has little detail- no stick, no rudder pedals, no sidewall detail. There is a decal provided for the instrument panel. I backed it with a piece of styrene to make it easier to mount. The pilots are attached in with tabs and slots on their backs. The panel lines are raised, and it’s covered in rivets.

View of the Revell SBD’s tail gunnerI did do some updating. Knowing I’d need to sand seams and so forth- which would ruin the raised detail, I decided to scribe the panel lines- a first time for me. I used Dymo tape as a guide, using a Testors scribing tool to make the lines, then sanding the surface down. It was a good lesson in patience. I probably spent a total of 8 hours on that part alone, and learned a lot from it. Primarily what I learned was I should’ve taken 12-15 hours. Haste makes waste when scribing panel lines, I found.

Dive flaps on Revell’s SBD DauntlessThe dive brakes on the real plane had small holes drilled in them. The kit had recessed holes. I decided it would look cool to drill them out. I pulled out my trusty hand drill and got to work.

Two hundred and sixty-five holes later I was done. Did I mention there were 265 holes? That I drilled? OK……

Another view of the Dauntless cockpit.The backside of the pilot’s bulhead was open, so I covered that with a piece of sheet styrene. Other than those changes, though, it was basically done just as I built it as a kid.

I used PollyScale colors for the entire aircraft. I painted the undersides with a darkened shade of USN gray, then filled in the panel lines with the un-shaded color. Masking off the undersides, I followed up on the top with USN med. blue, using the same technique of darkening the paint a bit for pre-shading.

Full view of Revell’s 1/48 SBD Dauntless model kit.I can say I was not real jazzed up with Revell’s choice of decals for this re-release. For some reason, they chose to model an aircraft who had been repainted several times, and the stars had multiple shades of blue “painted” around them. With no explanation of why they were this way, I thought at first that it was a mis-print. Turns out it wasn’t, but for all the markings that could’ve been provided for this aircraft, I thought the choice was a bit too obscure and just kinda goofy looking. So I did what any good modeler would do- I got another set of decals.

Close up view of the engine in the Revell Dauntless kit.Superscale’s Decal set No. 48-842 modeled two aircraft, both SBD-3s. The one I really liked had the markings from VS-41 that flew from the USS Ranger during Operation Torch. The stars had a huge yellow circle around the blue, which I thought would look really cool.

Wheels and bomb cradle of the Dauntless model kit.The decals worked out good for the most part. They reacted a bit to much to PollyScale Decal Softener, leaving some wrinkling, but nothing too terrible. The biggest problem was that the decals for the fuselage were a bit oversized. Though they were supposed to wrap under the bottom a bit, I can only guess that the scale of the Revell kit is a bit undersized, because it was quite struggle getting them on. They look a bit exaggerated. Still, they settled nicely and I’m happy with them.

After applying PollyScale Flat to take the shine of the Future coats I applied, I gave the plane a few minutes to dry.

Another view of the Dauntless bomb cradle and swing arm.All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the build. I even left on the raised copyright lettering. This build wasn’t about accuracy, it was about fun. And remembering a simpler time. And it worked, because once the PS Flat dried…….

I quietly reconned the kitchen table, where my son sat unknowingly, building a HobbyBoss 1/72 Bf-109E…..

The -109 just sat there, waiting for the orders about it’s next mission. The pilot leaned against its side, lazily passing the day away.

From high above, a speck passed over. A sharp eye looked down.

Close-up view of Revell’s SBD Dauntless“Caught him napping. Last nap he’ll have.” The Allied pilot pushed the stick over, the engine growing louder as he plunged into his dive, like a hawk stalking a rodent lazily eating a piece of cheese.

The Axis pilot heard an approaching engine. Too late, he looked up, into the sun. He squinted to make out the source of the droning buzz, diving towards him. He thought he caught a glimpse of red dive brakes (with 265 freaking holes in them, he noticed), and then, the last thought that passed through his Axis mind was a horrible realization…. “Did I just see a bomb swing away in a lazy arc towards me in a semi-realistic manner from the bomb cradle and arm?” Yes, you most assuredly did, Mr. Axis pilot man! Say goodnight Gracie!

Score one more for the Allies and the SBD!

Now, don’t mind me, I’m happily buzzing off into the sunset. :D

12 Responses to “Kit build report: Revell’s (Monogram’s!) 1/48 SBD Dauntless”

  • Roy says:

    Jon, great build & writeup. If you have a current SBD put them next to each other to see if the scale is off.

    If you get a chance checkout my camo job on the Spitfire GB. Let me know what you think.

    God bless,
    Roy

  • Manny says:

    Couple of weeks ago, I went to Modelfest here in Virginia. Of the kits I picked up[nothing recent] one was the Mongram SBD,1967 issue. I got it, like you said, to remember old times and build a kit for the hell of it. I the came across your article and enjoyed it, immensely. Glad to know, I am not alone.

  • tony says:

    Can you tell me what is the deal with the US stars in this kit that are provided? Were the planes aboard the Wasp repainted in a hurry, so they could not do a proper job on the stars? Check out your Revell decal sheet and you will see what I mean. Me and my seven year old are building this plane. I have probably built this old Monogram kit at least three times since I was 7!

  • Namrednef says:

    Masterful work on that old saw Jon!

  • Jimmy says:

    I’m building this kit right now. I too am going to find some other decals for this aircraft or put the New Zealand ones on. The stars with the “painted” rings are really a bummer.

  • Chris says:

    This is the kit that made me want to grow up and be a Dauntless pilot. Thanks for the great write up, I had some excellent adventures flying expanding square searches in the back yard looking for the transport ships that were trying to re-enforce the local enemy garison all the while keeping a wary eye out for monogram zeros. Lots of happy memories of popping those flaps and noseing over into a 90 deg dive to deliver that 500 pounder on those poor dug in troops. I picked up one of these kits few years ago and bought a cockpit detail kit because I always wanted this kit with a better interieor to go with all the great operating features. I also had the pleasure of hand drilling all the airbrake holes. Thanks again for the write up and keep em flying.

  • Mark says:

    Nice kit! I think I found a photo of the SBD-3 with the markings included in the current issue of the Revell (Monogram) kit. Check it out here…

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/89/Bridge_off_USS_Wasp_(CV-7),_August_1942.jpg

    I just picked up the kit for the same reasons you built. I built one as a kid. Now my kids are modelers!

  • Ryan H says:

    I thinks its great that people still do plastic models.. I really enjoyed it as a kid. Then I grew up and got maried, then divorced. Now, there is no one in my way to do what I once enjoyed. At least thats how I look at it.

  • RSSG says:

    Well done! I think the re-issue of some of the Monogram (and less so, Revell) kits are a treat. The newer Hasegawa and Tamiya kits are of course the best and Accurate Miniatures is right up there too. In fact, AM’s SBD Dauntless is probably the best Dauntless anywhere, no doubt! But sometimes I don’t want a kit with 50,000 parts. Sometimes I want a simpler kit, and put a little extra work in it to bring it up to today’s kits standards. That’s always a good and fun challenge.

    Especially the re-issue of the P-51B and P-39. Of course the old Me(Bf)-109G-10, P-47 (razorback and bubbletop) and the P-51D are all fine kits, that with a little extra work, can still be turned into great looking replicas.

    I never have really seen the old Monogram SBD, not sure if it’s a good kit or one of the more “toy like” ones – F6F Hellcat and F4U Corsair. Based on this review, it sounds pretty good, I will check one out!

  • Joe thomas says:

    I bought this kit at a flea market for a dollar last weekend; bought it and built it in 1964 for $1.49. Of course the rivets and panel lines are more than a little off and the action features are clunky by today’s standards, but Monogram was producing superior models for its customers at the time (when most others weren’t).

    I’m drilling out the dive brakes and may do some simple interior detailing, otherwise, I’m turning this SBD over to my son for his first scale model venture (at 21). The early ’42 star decals are gigantic and match those in a photo of both bombing and scouting SBD’s being serviced at the time on the “Big E” flight deck. Looks like he’ll get some serious weathering experience along with assembly.

  • JOHN C. FORD says:

    WELL JUST THOUGHT ID DROP YOU A LINE AND LET YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I ENJOYED YOUR ARTICLE ON THE OLD DAUNTLESS, ITS FUNNY THAT I FOUND IT ONLINE JUST A FEW MINUTES AFTER CONTACTING REVELL MONOGRAM TRYING TO GET SOME REPLACEMENT PARTS FOR MY PLASTIKIT PA54 WHICH ACCORDING TO THE BOX COST JUST 1.49 WHEN THE KIT WAS PRODUCED, DOES ANYONE KNOW WHEN THAT WAS, AND WHEN WAS THE KIT REISSUED, I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO KNOW…… I HOPE I CAN REPLACE THE LOST PARTS AS I WANT TO BUILD AND TO ALSO DRILL THOSE 265 FREAKING HOLES IN THE DIVE BRAKES, I GUESS IM JUST A GLUTTON FOR PUNISHMENT, THANKS FOR THE ARTICLE……

  • Oswaldo Muta says:

    I like the your blog about the sbd model plane. Thanks

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