Kit: No. 3411
Manufacturer: Accurate Miniatures, 100 Centre St., Charlotte, NC 28216-4064, phone 704-391-1176
Comments: Injection molded, 110 parts, decals.
The early World War II SBD-3 Dauntless dive bomber was the star of the heroic battles of Coral Sea and Midway. Along with this kit, Accurate Miniatures has released a late-war SBD-5, and is planning a pre-war Marine SBD-1 for production.
External detail is mostly fine recessed panel lines with realistic raised-rib, fabric-covered controls. Even the tiny clips that held canvas engine and canopy covers are there.
The kit features an excellent reproduction of the R-1820 Cyclone radial engine, and a cockpit interior that has everything, even a relief tube and a flare gun! You can spend hours building and painting the interior, but when enclosed in the fuselage much of it can't be seen. Aftermarket interior sets will be superfluous, except that photoetched belts or homemade ones would be better than the decal seat harnesses provided.
With any SBD kit, the first question modelers raise is whether the dive flaps are perforated. Yes, and the dive-flap actuators are also included. You can pose the brakes closed, bottom down (for take-off and landing), or full open. Unfortunately, my sample's dive flaps and actuators were warped.
The recessed belly (to hold the bomb) is highly detailed and includes the pilot's downward-view window. Two 100-pound bombs are provided for the small wing racks and a 1,000-pounder fits in the central bomb crutch. Decals are provided for Lepla and Liska's SBD-3 that shot down several Japanese planes during the Battle of the Coral Sea.
Accurate Miniatures has improved its instructions. Diagrams and text guide you through 15 assembly steps and tell you what each part is called. Read everything and follow the sequence. The color chart eliminates guesswork when you shop for paint.
To avoid bending or breaking small parts when removing them from the sprues, cut a couple of millimeters back. Sand and file away the remainder of the sprue stubs.
Dry-fit most parts before committing them to glue. I had to file the rearmost cockpit bulkhead to get it to fit. The instrument panel sits a little high and will interfere with tabs under the cowling top. The cowl machine guns don't line up well with the troughs in the cowl.
The oxygen bottle and fire extinguisher molded on the floor get in the way of the separate side-detail parts so you'll have to shave a little off the sides. Accurate's instrument-panel painting suggestions seem complicated, so I simply painted the clear panel black, dry-brushed white on the raised instrument faces, and dabbed tiny drops of 5-minute epoxy for the glass covers.
The choice of closed or opened canopies is a special feature. The opened sections are molded thin so you can nest them between the pilot's and gunner's station, just like the real Dauntless.
Take care with the landing gear. The struts should toe inward six degrees, but mine had even more angle. I had to bend the mounts slightly. You have a choice of "weighted" and standard tires, and the wheels and brakes are molded separately for easier painting. The strut doors should jut forward slightly - they may look wrong this way, but they will be correct.
After painting with Polly Scale and Tamiya acrylics, I overcoated the model with Future floor polish. Accurate's "Disaclear" decals were perfectly printed (you can read all the stencils) and went on well. You'll have to coax them into and over some of the details such as leading-edge slots and rudder bell cranks.
I tried something different with the stencil decals. I brushed on a tiny puddle of Future, applied the stencil, then another drop of Future to envelop the decal. I couldn't see silvering or decal edges after a coat of Testor Dullcote.
The finished model measures to the dimensions in Bert Kinzey's SBD Dauntless in Detail & Scale, and Squadron/Signal's SBD Dauntless in Action.
Accurate Miniatures' SBD is not a "fall together" model. No kit with the amount of detail this one includes could be. Beginners will have trouble with the amount of work involved, but experienced modelers will enjoy every minute. I put 42 hours into mine.
If you like fine detail - and loads of it - this is a good Dauntless to choose.