Profile Photo
Louis Gardner
170 articles

1/48 Accurate Miniatures SBD-3 Dauntless, USS Enterprise VB-6, flown by Lt. Cmdr. Richard Best

75 years ago today "Dick" Best changed history with a single 1,000 pound bomb. At that exact instant, he also changed the course of the War in favor of the United States in the Pacific Theater. It has been written that this may very well have been the most important bombing mission, (with the possible exception of the B-29 named "Enola Gay"), to change the outcome of the War in the Pacific.

I have to agree with this.

Not only did he sink a Japanese aircraft carrier, (the Akagi), but he flew a second bombing mission later on the same day... and hit ANOTHER Japanese carrier. (the Hiryu)

Since the story has been told exceptionally well earlier today by Tom Cleaver, I won't bore you with the details. Instead I'm including a link to his well written article.

Thanks for giving us personal insights to this man Tom. You were a very lucky man to have become friends with him.

If you haven't previously read this article written by Tom, your missing out.

This is my first ever kit build. I purchased it from an online auction sight. It was advertised as a "Midway" release, so I was very excited...

only to be really bummed out later when I found out that my "Midway" special was cobbled together from various other Accurate Miniatures SBD releases and contained parts sprues for the earlier SBD-1 and 2's. It did not contain the twin .030 caliber rear firing gunner's weapons or the associated ammunition trays for the "twin .030's" that were used at Midway. But honestly, for $8 dollars plus shipping, I really can't complain. Especially when you consider that there were enough parts to build a SBD (just not a Midway SBD) .

So I went back online and found another Accurate Miniatures SBD-5 kit for sale...(which has the twin .030 caliber weapons and other small parts needed) and promptly grabbed it up. Later, as I am taking inventory of the parts needed for this particular build, I realized that I did not have a spinner !

The SBD-5 kit did not use the small spinner that was found on the earlier SBD-1's through the dash 3's. Sometimes the small rubberized spinner was removed in the field and then not re installed. It simply covered the propeller pitch mechanism. So I was thinking that I may have to abandon my Midway SBD ideas, and possibly build something from Guadalcanal or Operation Torch instead.

But I really wanted to build THIS particular plane...flown by Richard Best.

Here comes Rick Wilkes to the rescue, who kindly sent me a replacement part for my build. Not only did Rick provide a new spinner for me, he also posted an article about how he built his AM . Rick's SBD has also been signed / autographed by none other that "Dick Best' himself. Tom Cleaver had arranged for Rick's plane to be signed by the retired Lt. Commander.

Now how cool is that ? Here's a link to the autographed model...

So with all of this information in hand, I proceeded to build my version of the plane. I simply followed the advice provided by Tom and Rick, and ended up with what you see here...

This was my very first Accurate Miniatures SBD kit. It will not be the last, that's for sure. They really build up into a very nice plane. There is absolutely no reason to replace anything with aftermarket parts, unless that's just your style...

Here's a link to the build log for my rendition of "B-1", flown by Lieutenant Commander Richard Best, on June 4th, 1942. Twice... in the same day.

As usual, comments are encouraged. Thanks for looking.

Reader reactions:
7  Awesome

24 additional images. Click to enlarge.

32 responses

  1. Another beautiful job, Louis...I have to find another hobby.

  2. Very nice work, Louis.

  3. Really nice SBD Louis! I enjoyed the write up a lot too. Thanks! 🙂

    • You're welcome Gary... I'm glad you enjoyed this one.

      • Oh my God I'm blown away! This must be the best Dauntless I've ever seen on this forum! It makes me want to bail out tears because I can never build something this great! God its beautiful.. just beautiful...

        • Thanks Karl for the compliments. I'm very happy with this one too, but there are others on here that put my builds to shame. We are very fortunate to have a very talented bunch here on Imodeler. You can build something like this too, I know you can.
          Thanks again for the kind words.

  4. Louis you just keep keeping on,FINE work.

  5. Great post Louis!
    One of those moments when you can almost literally see the courseof history changing.
    I have the AM kit so will have to dig it out - lovely build.

    • Thank you Dave.
      This epic part of the Battle of Midway is what helped me to decide which plane I wanted to build a long time ago. The Group build was the perfect place and time to do it...

      Go for it and start building your AM kit. They fit really well. The cockpit is where you will spend most of your time. The rudder pedals are a bit fiddly. The flap actuator rods can be interesting too. You can avoid the actuator rods by posing the flaps in a raised position.

      Thanks again for the compliments.

  6. Another great build! It's amazing to think of what these guys did that day.

  7. Came out great Louis! Beauty of a Dauntless.

    • Thanks Greg !

      The 1/72 scale Dauntless you built was amazing... the details you packed into the flaps was outstanding. I've never seen such incredible workmanship on a tiny plane.

  8. Really nice work, Louis, and perfect subject/context!

  9. Louis, just a beauty! It really looks the part! Well done!

  10. Hello Louis,
    Interesting story (Tom Cleaver) and your bumpy road to construct the right Dauntless.
    Superbly finished. Regards, Dirk/ The Netherlands.

  11. Well done Louis, you did CDR Best proud.

    • I appreciate the compliments my friend. It wouldn't have turned out as good as it did if you didn't give me the tip about the Bare Metal foil on the spinner. Speaking of spinners, this one would have been dead in the water had you not sent me one to replace the one missing from this kit. Again I thank you. Take care my friend.

  12. Awesome! That's an over-used word these days, but it does your model justice! Great article, Tom! Your knowledge of the whole time as well as the equipment is outstanding and enviable.

  13. Another good one Louis

  14. Friend, I have this same kit sitting in a box on the shelf. I want to be "dauntless" as I approach it, but your skill is certainly daunting. Wow. The camera doesn't lie, and even in its typically unflattering light I cannot find a flaw. You have produced a work of art.

    And I simply love this aircraft. Why do those ungainly-looking carrier planes make me think they're so beautiful?

  15. Thanks David. I sincerely appreciate the kind words.

    This is my very first Accurate Miniatures SBD build. I have a few more in my stash now, that I purchased after I had started this one. They really build up into a very nice looking plane.

    I'm sure that your Dauntless will look fantastic as well, especially after looking at your Blue Nosed Mustang ! I say go for it and give your kit a try... you will be pleased with the outcome.

    Like you, I am a very big fan of carrier planes too... There's just something about them...

    Thanks again my friend.

    • What a beauty, Louis. The reason I’m late to this post is that I recently watched the new Midaway movie and started researching builds and reviews of the mighty Dauntless. A trusted vendor of kits I usually buy from has the 5 in stock for a fair price, the Italeri boxing - no Midway option there. Good to know not only decals are needed, but also the spinner. Top notch build, as usual. Cheers!

  16. @lgardner this SBD really caught my eye, I'd been reading about the Midway battle just recently. Also, I've been reading about SBDs and building them for years, and only recently learned about the bombing window, which your cockpit photo clearly shows. I might have to get me one of those Accurate Miniature SBD-3s!

Leave a Reply