The inspiration for this project was the photo of torpedoes being loaded onto Helldivers of VB-2 on the U.S.S. Hornet. The aircraft in the photo is the SB2C-1C version of the Helldiver, and since I had a Pro-Modeler SB2C-4 kit that I had bought for parts for my Buccaneer project, I thought I’d try my hand at doing a conversion from -4 to -1C. I did some internet research to find the following list of conversion items:
1. Insertion of the windows behind the pilot’s cockpit.
2. Scratch building of the turnover pylon now visible in the windows.
3. Modification of the gunner’s sliding canopy back to the –1/3 version, and deletion of the external canopy rail below the cockpit sill.
4. Replacement of the kit prop with 3-bladed version and spinner
5. Replacement of the perforated P/E dive flaps with the solid type found on the –1C.
6. Filling in the recesses for the under-wing rocket stub mounts.
Since most of the interior cockpit detail parts from this kit went into the Buccaneer, I had to cobble together bits from the parts bin for the pilots cabin, and even went so far as to resin cast a couple of parts out of an old Monogram kit – my very first try at resin-casting. After cutting out the turtle back for the window behind the pilot, I scratch build the rollover bar, and trimmed and fitted the pilot’s canopy from the old Monogram kit into the window opening. The details in the gunner’s position aren’t readily visible, so I just left them out.
I modified the gunners canopy and removed the rails, modified the prop spinner by filling in three holes and drilling two new ones, and filled in the rocket attachments. I meant to build it with the lower flaps open for takeoff, but did not realize I needed to cut out the lower flap mechanism from the wing before I glued it all together, so they are closed – bummer! Flaps are just sheet styrene cut to shape and glued in. The torpedo came from the Great Wall Hobbies TBD Devastator kit.
The aircraft is painted in three-tone scheme, with insignia white on the lower surfaces. My airbrush is getting old and won’t do fine lines anymore, so I ended up masking it off with tape. I used Model Master enamel for the insignia white, Vallejo Air acrylic for the intermediate blue, and Model Master acrylic for the dark sea blue. The project was marred in the end by the poor performance of the decals, which silvered terribly. I actually removed the smaller numbers and re-applied with white glue for an improved result, but I still have silvering on the big numbers and the national insignia.
All in all, it was a fun project done with a throw-away kit, and even with it’s flaws, it’s still a good replacement for my Monogram moving-parts Helldiver in my dive-bomber collection.
10 additional images. Click to enlarge.