1/48 Pro Modeler SB2C-4 Curtiss Helldiver VB-83, USS Essex, April 1945
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.
33 additional images. Click to enlarge.