The Navy’s worst aircraft
The Brewster SB2A joined the Navy in 1943, but had so many deficiencies that it never served in combat. It was considered “under-powered and poorly constructed” and was only used for training by the Navy and Marines. But since it was a WWII dive-bomber, it was a must-have for my dive bomber collection.
The specific aircraft I have modeled was assigned to the Marines’ first night fighter squadron VMF(N)-531. As you can see, the Vac Form kit only contains a dozen pieces, so this was my deepest foray into scratch-building and kit-bashing to date. Based on advice from others on the web, I kept this kit on the shelf until I was able to procure a Monogram Pro-Modeler SB2C Helldiver kit to steal parts from. Now, those kits regularly run for $75-$80 dollars, which is a lot to spend for spare parts, so I bided my time. Eventually I found a Pro-Modeler kit for $55 on E_bay, and knowing that was a bargain, I bought it outright. That was still too much to pay for spare parts, though, so that one is going to get built someday to replace my Monogram moving-parts version.
Sometime after that, I spied a Pro-Modeler kit on e_bay for $25! As parts go, that’s getting pretty cheap, so I snatched that one up right away. That kit provided a whole bunch of parts – pilot and gunner cockpits, instruments, machine gun mount, tires, wiring harness for the R-2800, bomb racks for the wings, and exhaust stacks for the engine. All of that, along with a Vector resin R-2800 to replace the white metal one that came with the kit, and I was set to begin building.
In order to not overtax my scratch-building skills, I chose to leave the bomb bay and the flaps closed (they were probably rarely opened on the real aircraft!). The instructions gave good advice about gluing the wings together before drilling out the holes in the dive flaps. I ignored this advice and drilled the holes out first, only to discover that the pilot indentations didn’t line up from bottom wing to top (grrr). Otherwise the pieces went together with very little filler needed, which was surprising. Despite my best efforts, the elevators are a bit crooked, but hopefully not too obvious.
I painted the inside of the flaps red, and then, to preserve the red, I cut toothpicks and stuck them in the holes when painting the gray and intermediate blue colors. This worked pretty well, only requiring a bit of touch up once the toothpicks were removed. With acrylic this works quite well.
I’m still not crazy about vacuform canopies, so decided to open them up as much as possible to eliminate needing to join them to the plastic without obvious seams. I masked them all with tape(!) then first sprayed zinc chromate, and then finish coat on top of that.
What else? Oh, the tiny little axles on the white metal landing struts were so delicate they broke off during handling, so what I did was – drill small hole in the strut, insert short piece of piano wire and glue in place, insert short piece of aluminum tubing in the large axle hole in the wheel, then drill that out to fit the piano wire. All of that superglued together made a reasonably stout landing gear.
I hope you enjoy my Buccaneer. I don’t see any other SB2A’s presently on iModeler, so for now I claim the distinction of having the finest SB2A on the site! 🙂
24 additional images. Click to enlarge.