World War II Dive Bombers
For several years I had a goal of building 1/48 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!).
Curtiss SBC-3 Helldiver 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.
Vought SB2U Vindicator 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.
Douglas SBD Dauntless, 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 SB2C 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 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!
11 additional images. Click to enlarge.