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Robert Knaack
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World War II Dive Bombers

For several years I had a goal of building scale models of all the Navy dive-bombers that saw action in WWII. I'd been fascinated with dive-bombing ever since I read Walter Lord's book "Incredible Victory", and saw the movie "Midway" in theaters back in 1976 (it was the first movie I saw in a theater, when I was 12 years old - I sat on the edge of the seat!).
The planes:
-3 entered service in 1937, and was the last biplane built for the U.S. Navy.
The SBC had an aluminum fuselage, but still had wooden, fabric-covered wings.
SBCs served in the anti-submarine role until June of 1943.
SB2U was the first monoplane built for the U.S. Navy. It also entered service in 1937.
The forward fuselage and inner wings were metal, but the tail section and outer wings were still fabric covered on this aircraft.
Pilots referred to the Vindicator as "Wind Indicator" and "Vibrator". A few years ago, a Vindicator was recovered from Lake Michigan, and now resides in the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola, the only one of it's type in existence.
12 Vindicators participated in the Battle of Midway in June of 1942, but scored no hits on the Japanese fleet, and 10 were shot down. Vindicators were retired from service after that.
, built by Northrop, later Douglas, entered service in 1940, and served in all of the major sea battles of WWII.
The SBD was nick-named "Slow But Deadly". It was arguably the best dive bomber ever designed. At the Battle of Midway in 1942, SBD's sank 3 Japanese carriers in six minutes, and sank a fourth the next day. SBDs sank more tons of shipping than any other U.S. bomber.
Curtiss Helldiver entered service in 1943, after many delays. It was nicknamed "The Beast" not only for its large size, but also for it's unpleasant handling characteristics.
The SB2C had an internal bomb bay. The advent of air-to-ground rockets, and fighter aircraft with similar load capabilities, meant that the SB2C was the last dive-bomber produced.

The Kits:
The Helldiver biplane is an Aurora kit from 1961. The decals were original and went on fine, though they are a bit yellowed.
The Vindicator is a kit I got years ago before the Academy or Accurate Miniatures versions were available. I have no idea what company made it. I ordered it online, and it came in a bag, with thick, soft plastic parts, along with cast metal cockpit cage and landing gear. I had to fabricate the bomb crutch, and steal a bomb from another kit. I really was proud of it at the time.
The Dauntless and Helldiver are the venerable Monogram kits with the moving parts. I love the old Monogram kits, and I know they're well regarded here on iModeler.
All the kits were built OOB, with the only exception being the spinner on the Dauntless, and the decals.

I'd like to extend my collection into the pre-war years. If anyone knows where to find 1/48 scale kits for Curtiss BFC-2, Vought SBU, Brewster SBA and SB2A, let me know!

Reader reactions:
10  Awesome

11 additional images. Click to enlarge.

19 responses

  1. Did you miss the TBD Devastator? Robert5, just drop by my house in Indianapolis and I'll GIVE you one of those old, faithful Monogram kits "with the moving parts." of the TBD.

    It would look great with your collection of WWII US Navy dive bombers, because THEY look great!

  2. the second kit i ever built was the four star monogram SBD with the killer box art 1961...great post...saw Midway in sensurround sound 1976...met "Jig dog Ramage" sbd pilot Philippine sea as a kid...great stuff...the buccaneer was out in vac 30 years ago

  3. Excellent models of a favorite era of mine... To my knowledge, Classic Airframes produced the Curtiss BFC-2 in 1/48 scale. It's based on the Curtiss BFC that had fixed landing gear.

    The CA kit is kit #432 and is considered a "limited run" kit.

    Hope this helps you on your quest.

    • Perfect! I found a BFC-2 at, just what I needed.

      • Excellent news ... Glad to help. Lindberg made a similar 1/48 Curtiss "Goshawk" kit but it dates back to the 1950's.

        It has been re boxed numerous times over the years. Even though it's an old kit, it looks like a Curtiss to me. I have built a few of them over the years.

  4. Fine collection of dive bombers Robert. Most of the rest of your want list was done in VacuForm kits by Wings 48. The are excellent kits with white metal and resin detail bits. Unfortunately the last distributor Don’s Model Works has gone under and no one seems to have picked up the line. Don’t be put off by vac kits they can easily be tricked out with bits from your spares box etc. I know for certain they did an SB2A, so that will give you a starting point if you’re interested.

  5. A great collection! Another nickname for the SB2C was Son of a b**** second class.

  6. Stellar builds, one and all... ! 🙂

  7. I have the Monogram Dauntless, plan on building it SOB inaccurate markings and all!

  8. Great collection, Robert. I think your Vindicator is a Meikraft kit from the late 80s. It was the work of the late John Meikranz in Texas. He was a real pioneer of limited run injection molded kits. I built several of his 1/72 WW1 kits which were really nice for their time. I’ve seen that Vindicator on vendors tables and never had the courage to buy one. That’s the first one Ive ever seen built. I salute you!

  9. 🙂 … Greetings … 🙂 :
    Nice looking HISTORY COLLECTION for a subject … you are off towards a lot of history and have a very good start. Hope too see more of them Robert.

  10. nice collection!

  11. I love theme postings of collections like this. I wondered where the 1/48 SBC-3 Diver kit was from.

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