by: Darren Baker [ ]
The SBD-5 design was the pinnacle of this aircrafts design sporting self sealing fuel tank, bullet resistant canopy, twin 12.7mm forward facing guns and twin 7.62mm moveable guns at the rear of the cockpit. The SBD series of aircraft were unusual in not having foldable wings; this was due to the manufacturer considered the role of the aircraft to need robust wings for dives and climbs.
The SBD was not a fast aircraft having a level flight speed in the 250 MPH range and so it could be considered easy prey for the Japanese fighters of the day. The SBD was not however such an easy target as while it was slow the weaponry and robustness of the aircraft made it a good platform for taking on the fast but un-armoured Japanese fighters and won many air to air fights with the Japanese fighters during World War 2.
The SBD-5 made its name sinking Japanese ships and it excelled at that task gaining an enviable reputation in the role. Most bombers of the day used the level flight approach to bomber enemy targets, the SBD-5 took the Stuka approach and dived onto the target that allowed for accuracy of the payload and high speed gained for the escape from the target.
This offering from Academy is packaged in a card tray with a separate card lid. The card lid has a quite pleasing artwork that makes the boxing appealing. Inside of the box there are 4 clear sealed plastic bags that contain 2 sprues in each and a single clear sprue on its own. you will also find a small photo etch fret containing harness detail along with of course a decal sheet, a set of painting masks and instructions. It should be noted that this model has good lineage being the Accurate Miniatures offering and also the base kit used by Eduard for their release of the SBD-5.
Taking a look at the mouldings I am happy with what is included and the precision of the parts; when you consider that the moulds for this model are 21 years old the lack of flash is impressive. The sprue gates are not excessive in numbers or size and so removal and clean up of parts will not be overly tiresome. The black & white line drawings in the instruction booklet are fair, but improved greatly via the addition of photographic reference of what should be where and the angle of the items.
The office of this model is stunning to me despite the number of models I have looked at. There are a very large number of parts that need to be installed of which a number are small or very fine with a good level of finesse. I particularly like that the seat harnesses have been provided and while I would have preferred the cloth type provided by Eduard in some cases the photo etched offerings are a fair compromise. Another nice aspect of this model is that detail painting is pointed out during construction. Due to the high level of detail and finesse of parts take your time and check before securing anything in place, if you do the result should be very pleasing.
A radial engine is provided with the model and this has fair detail in the form of raised fins on the cylinder heads and the ignition harness is provided as a separate part. This does look quite good, but depending on your ability the wires could be replaced with fire brass wire for a more refined look. As the engine has not been included with hatch access to view it I feel the included contents are of a good level.
The fuselage and flight surfaces of this offering are nicely replicated with finely recessed panel lines. The engraved detail being of a high standard I started looking at completeness of the detail and other than the rivet detail I was reasonably impressed with the effort put into the area. Flight control structures are clearly identified on the model parts, but they are not supplied as separate parts, as such in order to alter their positions the razor saw will need to be implemented.
One of the stars of this show are the air/dive brakes. These surfaces have been provided with a multi pose choice and they have very nice detail on the interior faces. The vent holes are present with a small amount of clean being beneficial in some cases. The only negative I can come up with is that being injection moulded plastic they are a little on the thick side, but with that said if photo etch is used you lose the internal structural detail.
The undercarriage of the model is surprisingly simple for a carrier borne aircraft due to the stresses it takes during landings. This model provides a good level of detail in the struts with even the brake pipe detail replicated. Another very nice level of detail in this model is the wheel recesses that have the relevant details that I was able to find. The tail wheel is moulded as part of the fuselage and so detail is restricted in that area.
The glazed portion of the model has been tackled as individual elements or if preferred as a single moulding plus the windshield, I like this approach as it allows the modeller to add a closed up or open canopy in any configuration easily, the closed canopy option also does not look gappy that can be an issue when using various glazed portions. Another nice provision here is the inclusion of cut masks for the canopy that saves the average modeller in the region of £7 to £10 at a stroke.
The bomb load for the model is provided in the form of two 100ib bombs for the wing hard points and a 1000ib bomb for the centreline with the swing arm nicely replicated.
Academy has provided three finishing options for this release which are:
US Navy SBD-5 VB 10, Aircraft Carrier CV-6 19 June 1944
US Navy SBD-5 VB 10, Aircraft Carrier CV-10 October 1943
US Navy SBD-5 'White 1' VMSB-231 'Ace of Spades' Maj. Elmer G Gildden & MSgt, James Boyle, Marshal Islands Spring 1944
While this kit is long in the tooth as regards original release date it was excellent in its day and still an exceptional model in todayís market, plus I believe the best offering in this scale regardless of whose release of it you purchase. Being a model with 21 years behind it there are also a good number of upgrades available should you wish to further embellish the model. I am very hard pushed to pick fault with this release and so highly recommend it despite its age.