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K. J. Bricknell
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1/32 SBD-4 Dauntless, No 25 Squadron RNZAF, Espiritu Santo Island, 1944

December 16, 2014 · in Aviation · · 15 · 3.6K

In early 1944, No 25 Squadron RNZAF began operational training on -4 aircraft at Pallikulo on Espiritu Santo Island in the New Hebrides. These SBD-4s were ex-USMC aircraft, and in quite poor condition. Operational training included practice strikes with aircraft from Marine Air Groups 11, 12 and 21, TBF-1c Avengers of No 30 Squadron RNZAF, and escorting fighters.

The SBD-4s were handed back to the Marines in Feb-Mar 1944 and replaced with the SBD-5 variant. On March 22 1944, eighteen of these aircraft left for Piva on Bougainville via Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. The morning after they arrived, and in response to massive Japanese attacks on the Marine defenders in the area, they carried out their first operational sorties. Their targets were so close to the airfield that the ground crews were able to watch the entire action from their dispersal bays.

Later operations were directed at the large Japanese base areas around Rabaul in New Britain, operations which also included participation by No 30 Squadron's TBF Avengers.

The SBD-5s were eventually handed back to the USMC, following which the squadron transitioned to the F4U-1 Corsair, but that's another story.

The model is from the SBD-3/4 kit, and represents NZ5034, one of the rather "clapped-out" SBD-4s used for operational training on Espiritu Santo. This weary old war horse was never used in combat by the RNZAF, but she did prepare the aircrews of No 25 Squadron for later combat operations on the SBD-5. So you could say that she played her part.

Reader reactions:
17  Awesome

11 additional images. Click to enlarge.

15 responses

  1. Exceptional work, exquisite example of weathering technique(s) and detail. Very nice job indeed. Wouldn't surprise me a bit to be seeing this again next month. 🙂

  2. Very nice model, K.J., obviously well researched, and the finish is terrific, I'd love to know a little more about the build though, it looks as if you've done a considerable amount of extra work.

    • Hello George. How are things in China?

      Extra work, you say? Work? That word in absolute anathema to me 😉

      It's basically OOB except for some Eduard PE in the cockpit, 75% of which was hidden when I closed the fuselage. Ah, well. The real work was in the weathering.

      Coat of Alclad gloss black primer. Coat of Alcad aluminium. Coat of AK Interactive Heavy Chipping fluid. Coat of zinc chromate colour (Tamiya acrylic). Coat of final colours (also Tamiya acrylic). Then slowly and randomly wear away the top coat with micro mesh and very fine-grit paper. Finally, courtesy the AK Interactive fluid coat and a damp stiff brush, lift the odd chip off to get down to the aluminium. All this requires a certain amount of patience - which is remarkable, really, given that my wife insists that patience is a virtue I simply do not possess.

      It didn't come out quite in accordance with the image I had in my head when I started. However, I think this approach shows promise, so I might get a better result when I attempt an RNZAF TBF at some point in future.

      The Trumpeter kit is very good, incidentally. I was quite impressed.

  3. One of the better weathered aircraft models I've seen.
    Very nicely done.

  4. Yes the weathering is nicely judged. I've done one of these kits - I think the 'Midway' version - and found the kit offered excellent opportunities to add further detail. Great job.

  5. Great Dauntless, as said above me, your weathering is really good.
    Informative story as well. Great build.

  6. Fantastic, a real workhorse.

  7. Fine looking "Speedy D". Your weathering looks just right, worked hard but well maintained

  8. really fine model

  9. Nice, very nice indeed.
    Well done sir.

  10. Thanks for the very fine model. You helped me make up my mind to start building a 1/72 Airfix Gladiator or Dauntless... Thanks!

  11. Really super work! I especially like the way you did the wear to show the primer in some areas - very nice touch. For some reason I also really like the way the little light behind the gunner's station looks as well - to me looks VERY realistic. Superb job!

  12. K.J, What a fine bit of modeling. Really nice. Thanks for posting your wonderful skills.
    California Steve

  13. Excellent modeling and weathering work !

  14. Love the NZ SBD...well done nice and worn! How was the Trumpeter kit? I am being asked to build one for a customer and have no history with this model.

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