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1/48 Pro Modeler SB2C-4 Curtiss Helldiver VB-83, USS Essex, April 1945

January 27, 2017 in Aviation

This one is hot off the work bench. It’s number two for the year, but I started it last year. I literally just finished it less than an hour or so ago…..

I have been posting updates with the build progress here on Imodeler. I would like to thank those who responded during the process.

Check it out if you get the chance. Thanks in advance !!!!

This kit has been on my shelf of doom for years. I don’t know why, but I never got around to building it. It really is a nice kit.

Before I started the project I did a lot of online research for building tips, etc.

That’s when I ran across a very informative article that was written by Tom Cleaver. He suggested gluing the wings onto the fuselage before gluing the fuselage halves together. I followed his advice and there were no gaps to worry about at the wing to fuselage joint. Thanks Tom !!!

Much has been written about the SB2C. One airman that flew in these planes during WW2 was quoted as saying this about the plane: “It has one more hydraulic fitting, and three less engines than a B-17 !!!! “. The plane wasn’t very well received by air crews at first. It had a lot of very bad nick names…….. You can guess what two words start off with “SB”. Now add in the words “Second Class” to the SB words. It was sometimes called the “Beast”, etc. You get the idea…………..

I had the opportunity to meet and become friends with two WW2 SB2C pilots about 10 years ago or so. One pilot started out in SBD Dauntless dive bombers, and wasn’t too ecstatic with the Curtiss plane after flying the Douglas plane. One good thing he liked about the SB2C was the 20 MM wing cannons. He told me that he used them to line up his plane during the dive bombing run. He would fire the cannons and watch the arc of the tracers. If the tracer rounds were going in straight, so was he, as he put it. He was the father of one of my wife’s co-workers at the US Post Office. He was kind enough to share with me a huge stack of original WW2 B & W photos that he took during his Naval career as a pilot during the War. I have quite a nice collection of pictures of Dauntless and Helldiver photos now thanks to him. (I’ve never seen any of them on line). His flying career ended when he crashed his SB2C and his gunner was killed. He never flew again after that. He was a very humble quiet man.

The other pilot I met participated in the attack on the Japanese Battleship “Yamato”. This Helldiver “Driver” told me that the last time he saw the Yamato it was smoking badly and listing…………. as he was heading home with a few holes in his plane. He also told me that he was younger than former fellow Naval Aviator President George H. W. Bush by two weeks, thus making him the youngest Naval Aviator……… I haven’t verified it, but I don’t think it’s a false statement. He still flies a biplane today to the best of my knowledge.

Since this kit was so old, and the kit decals had yellowed considerably, I decided that I wouldn’t even try to use the original decals. So I found a masking set that was appropriate. This was my first time using spray masks. They really saved me a lot of time with the canopy.

I decided early on that I would drop the flaps, since they are such a prominent feature on this plane. I also drilled out ALL of the tiny holes……………. I used “Ultra Bright Chrome” bare metal foil on the landing gear oleo struts, and cloth medical tape for the rear seat belt. I wish that I had thought of this idea earlier so that the front seat belts would match. Ooops.

There is a lot more information on the build process over on the build thread.

Several of the last pictures I included show the original VB-83 plane from the USS Essex that I modeled mine after. I also added a few pictures near the end that I edited to make them look more like the black and white original pictures.

This plane doesn’t appear to be too beat up. Because of this, I didn’t weather the model too much. Basically all I did was add some oil stains and streaks. One thing I did notice was the overspray on the real plane by the Geodetic Markings on the rudder / fin assembly. I tried to replicate this look with my model. I also tried to place the markings in the exact location as per the real one. I think I got it pretty close……….. Check out the Yagi antenna and how it aligns with the lower starboard wing insignia. Close enough for me.

Overall it was a very enjoyable build.

As usual, comment are encouraged. Thanks again.

1/48 SB2C-4 Helldiver

June 16, 2016 in Aviation

Another one I never posted from a few years back. This is the Revellogram Promodeler kit from the late 90s. The decals were terrible and yellowed, so I cobbled together spares to model a USS Bunker Hill Helldiver. I painted it with enamels, Modelmaster gloss sea blue and Humbrol for everything else. This is actually one of my favorite models and I was kind of surprised when I realized I never photographed it!

SB2C-4 Helldiver

March 9, 2015 in Aviation

Well this is my just finished 1/48 scale Revell Pro-Modeler SB2C-4 Helldiver, in the colors and markings of VB-84, U.S.S. Bunker Hill, 1945.

I read that the Helldiver was not universally loved by those who used it, but I imagine this big hoss had the desired effect on those they visited, just the same…

Everything here is stock out of the box except the seat belts, fashioned from scrap PE sprue and the HVAR rockets, which I got from my scrap box and modified a bit to fit. I think they are a bit too long to be true to scale actually. I also lowered the flaps.

This was painted by hand using a variety of hair brushes. I did not weather it other than dusting the interior green parts with some gray chalk because the Model Master zinc-chromate I used just seemed to bright.

I am also including a couple of pictures of the Helldiver and the other 3 dive-bombers I have built over the last 11 months. The concept of a dive-bomber has a certain fascination for me; maybe if I can find a 1/48 scaled D4y Judy I will built one of those.

Thanks for looking & happy model building –

SB2C-4 Helldiver Academy 1/72 kit

June 30, 2014 in Aviation

It has been a while since I have posted and I have finally finished a kit to offer. My two WIP albums haven’t changed but I did finish my first aircraft kit since childhood and thought I would put it up to show my highs and lows and open it up for comments and advice. It is an SB2C-4 Helldiver marked with the kit decals as White 79 from U.S.S. Shangri-La in 1945.

[heading] The Interior and the Small Bits [/heading]

I painted the smaller bits and the interior with brush using Model Master Acryl zinc chromate green, flat black, leather, along with Vallejo dark rubber for the tires. I weathered the front and rear floor with a small bit of sponge in tweezers with dark gray and silver. I made my own umber wash with Model Master Acryl, dish soap and water and highlighted with the green lightened with white. The bomb decal stripes were not applied well and rippled after the MicroSol. The stencils on the bombs added some detail for a small part I thought.


The one piece of original design that I can claim is the strip of yellow 3M sticky note bookmark that I cut and rolled into the raft holder for some detail and added colour.


The one part of my efforts with which I was most pleased was the interior. Again, it is brush painted so not as smooth as it could be. I put in an order for the Eduard interior colour photo etch set and while waiting for its arrival, I was over-eager and sanded down the instrument panel and radio faces. Then, I discover that it was no longer available and had no choice but to settle for the kit instrument decals which were really quite thick and not as attractive. The bomb compartment looked fairly good, I thought after the wash and highlighting as well.


[heading] My First Canopy [/heading]

I also could not get a hold of the Eduard canopy mask, which I also think is out of production, so had to teach myself how to make my own mask. Tamiya tape and a new #11 blade to the rescue. I pushed too hard with the blade and made a lot of cuts and depressions in the clear plastic. A lesson I learned is not to choose a plane like the Helldiver to try your first canopy! It turned out OK and at the end I brushed on some Future which filled most of the cuts and scratches and gave a nice shine.


[heading] The Exterior [/heading]

I used Model Master dark sea blue spray can for the exterior paint. Again, I put it on too thickly in places and it pooled and hardened. I spent a lot of time with some sandpaper to try to smooth it down. You can still see some of the thicker parts on the wing and stabilizer edges. On the final coat I ended up putting an orange peel look on the finish which shows in the close up pictures. To try to smooth things out and to give the sea blue its gloss finish, I brushed on some Future leaving the green in its matte tone. It helped, but now wonder if it is too shiny.
The decals took a long time because of the many, and tiny, stencils on the wings. The stencils settled well but the national insignia did not. You can see the broken antenna that needs to be repaired. The two underwing antennae were broken and reattached many times also. Another important lesson I learned was to leave these to the absolute end before attaching them. I thought I was safe but had a chance to test my patience the more times I broke them.
Also had a chance to scratch build two parts. Both the pitot tube and the tail hook went flying into infinity with the tweezer catapult so I made my own with plastic rod and painted the stripes on the tail hook since I could not get the decal to wrap around that small of a diameter.


For a first effort, I was happy with how it turned out. I like the interior more than my job on the exterior. The umber wash added some nice depth and the highlighting worked well also. I didn’t add any weathering on the exterior, since I don’t think the gloss sea blue weathered much, or am I wrong on that? I did add some chipping with a silver artist’s pencil on the propeller leading edges, wing leading edges, cowling front and on the cockpit entries and wing walkways. The exterior paint was thick and with the dark blue, I did not bother with the panel lines either. I enjoyed the kit, aside from the thick national insignia. The wing to fuselage join was really smooth with how it is designed and I only used some putty on the stabilizer because of my bad placement. The landing gear would be not operational if this were a real plane since the tires settled at an angle because I put weight on them before the glue had truly hardened. All things that I know for next time. I did not scare myself off of building more aircraft and can now move on to the next kit more confidently. Please take a look and offer any pointers for the mistakes I have mentioned. Thanks.

Promodeller 1/48 SB2C Helldiver w/Wolfpack wingfold

April 28, 2014 in Aviation

promodeller 1997 vintage…the decals exploded upon impact with the water so i cobbled them from the the stash…didn’t have too many white codes so i stole them from a Korean war corsair…the wing fold went very smooth…had it done in an hour or two…reinforced the hinges with fine wire from bread twist ties…the hydraulic plumbing is micro solder from radio shack…the life raft is a piece of yellow balloon…wired the engine for all the good it did…used an eduard color zoom cockpit enhancement…i probably have 60 hours in it over a two week period…it was a lot of fun…i think i’ll build all the navy planes from WW11 with folded wings but i don’t think any plane looks better with a folded wing than the Helldiver…it just makes the ungainly “Beast” look like a bat out of hell…my sister gave me the monogram kit for Christmas about 50 years ago and since then it’s all ways held a special place in my heart…not to mention the marvelous box art…Paul Newman…Richard Boone and Brian Keith were gunners in torpedo and dive bombers

SB2C-4 Helldiver Rebuild

April 24, 2014 in Aviation

VB-83 Curtis SB2C-4 Helldiver

November 13, 2013 in Aviation

1/48 Pro Modeler SB2C-4 Helldiver

Inspired by Tom’s posting the other day of an “Essex” Helldiver, here’s mine from VB83.

I built this one basically OOB with some minor scratch built additions to the cockpit. Construction was simple and straight-forward, I was given a heads up regarding the wing roots, but with care I found that they worked well for me. The interior was painted with Gunze Interior Green, which is a slightly darker shade than MM. It was during this stage that I did make a couple of mistakes however. I had intended right from the start to display the model with lowered flaps. However, I failed to cut the supports of the wing and settled with only dropping the PE portion. Since these photos were taken, I’ve raised the flaps to the upper position. The other error was in not installing the life raft in the rear cockpit until it was too late to make it fit. I just settled for that as I didn’t realize this until the model was painted. Initial construction finished with masking the canopy with a mixture of Tamiya tape and Parafilm M.

Paint & Decals.
Essex’s VF-83 Helldivers were -4’s painted in the Tri Colour scheme, with a couple of replacement aircraft joining in late July painted in GSB. Again, I had a particular plane in mind which appears on page 68 of Barret Tillman’s “Helldiver Units of WW2”. Aeromaster makes a decal sheet for this particular aircraft, which I had bought and intended to use.

I began with the white underside, using the Badger 200, and gave it several coats of MM Acrylic Insignia White. I also painted the prop cowl white, though it could also have been Intermediate Blue; with no photo available of this particular plane I just made a judgment call. When this was cured, I switched to my Badger 155 double action and applied the Intermediate Blue, this time MM Enamel, freehand. When the intermediate blue was dry, I applied the dark blue (FS35042), again using MM enamel and applied with the Badger 155. There were some inevitable over sprays and mistakes to correct, but overall this attempt at the tri colour scheme went well for me and I was pleased with the result. Once the paint was fully cured I applied the gloss coat using Metalizer Sealer.

Decaling for me always begins with the national insignia. This one was no exception and I used the Aeromaster supplied ones. They went down well, I used Micro Sol only and experienced no problems with wrinkling or silvering. The trickiest part of the decaling process was in applying the vertical stabilizer decals. They were slightly oversize and needed some persuasion to melt down into the rudder hinge area and over the rudder tab mechanism. I eventually cut the decals to help them get over these surface irregularities and touched up with paint when they were dry. All the other decals went down with little trouble. I applied very few stencils as the photo of the subject aircraft showed very few to be present, though I am fully aware of other shots of (newer?) aircraft covered with all the stencils applied at the production plant. The only other thing worth mentioning about the decaling process was that I had to paint the G-Symbol on the wings as Aeromaster had not seen fit to included them in the sheet. This was accomplished with little trouble and the model was ready for the sealing coat and weathering.

As usual, I sealed with a couple of coats of heavily diluted light gray to fade down the paintwork, again making sure to fade down the areas in direct sunlight with the wings folded a little more. Dullcoat was next, bringing the sheen down to a semi-gloss finish. When I next picked up the model a couple of days later I discovered, quite by accident, a technique for weathering that looks (to me) quite realistic. In holding the kit by the wings, I noticed that my skin oils would vary the level of sheen on the finish and by literally rubbing my thumb and fingers over different areas of the plane I could vary the reflective qualities quite dramatically, to show heavily trafficked areas on the wings for example. This is not so visible in the photographs, but give it a try, if you don’t like the result, it’s easy to fix.

As is normal for me, weathering is done with pastels. I applied a few paint chips around the gun hatches on the wings and the engine cowls, but kept it to a minimum. Using various shades of pastel I highlighted and scuffed areas of the plane according to traffic and exposure to the elements. I added all the small and breakable bits, used stretched sprue for the antenna wire and attached it with white glue.

1/72 Cyber Hobby SB2C3 Helldiver

September 5, 2013 in Aviation

Just finished this. The kit looked lovely in the box, especially the interior, but was plagued by poor instructions, ill fitting parts (dive brakes, open canopy). The engine cylinders are configured wrong. 2 of the canopy pieces snapped in half while removing them from the sprue. I wanted to fold the wings but the parts are too weak and the attachment points for the undercarriage are a joke (ie. virtually non existent). I am pleased with the finished model though as It actually looks quite good built, but am very glad to get it off the bench.