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Spiros Pendedekas
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Classic Airframes Curtiss SBC-4 Helldiver, Samoa, 1942

February 28, 2021 · in Aviation · · 42 · 2.7K

Hi everyone!

This is my 1/48 Curtiss -4 , VMO-151, as it stood in Samoa island, 1942.

The Curtiss SBC Helldiver was a two-seat scout bomber and dive bomber built by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation.

It was the last military biplane procured by the United States Navy. Delivered in 1937, it became obsolete even before World War II and was kept well away from combat with Axis fighters.

The SBC was an all-metal, two-seat scout-bomber biplane with “I”-type interplane struts. It was the last combat biplane the Navy purchased and the last combat biplane manufactured in the United States.

The two crewmen, pilot and radio operator/gunner, were housed in tandem cockpits enclosed by a sliding canopy and the turtledeck behind the rear cockpit could be folded down to allow the gunner to use his machine gun.

The wings, rudder, elevators and flaps were fabric covered. The main landing gear retracted into wheel wells in the fuselage just forward of the lower wing and the tail wheel retracted into the fuselage.

Production variants were the SBC-3 and SBC-4, their main difference being a more powerful engine at the -4,and, as consequence, heavier armament and increased payload.

In total, 257 SBCs were built, their primary users being the US Navy and Marine Corps, Royal Air Force and French Navy.

The CA kit is your typical old school short run kit, consisting of low pressure styrene, beautiful resin and PE parts.

Old school means test three times, fit once, but, with patience, a nice fit can be achieved.

The scheme refers to a plane as it stood in Samoa, 1942; by that time the red circles from the insignia had been removed.

Should you wish to read the full build review, please do so by visiting my beloved site Modelingmadness:

Happy Modeling!

Reader reactions:
19  Awesome

42 responses

  1. WOW. First time I have seen this old Curtiss in 1/48. As a child I bulit the 1/72 Matchbox Helldiver with yellow wings. Your model is spectacular Spiros. Well done. Thanks for posting this one!

  2. Well done buddy I've never seen this one done let alone know anything about it. Curtiss building dive bombers, now who would have thunk it.

  3. Wow! You definitely created a silk purse from that pig's ear. Craptastic Airframes kits were the worst.

  4. @fiveten - nice work! My memory is that this was one of the most difficult Classic Airframes kits, and you have gotten more out of it than was in the box, that's for sure.

  5. Great build! This looks like a heck of a challenge. Very clean And well executed. Love the rigging!

  6. Inspirational build Spiros. I think the people at Classic Airframes would think this was built from someone else's kit.

  7. Looks great, Spiros!

  8. Great work on a real dog!

  9. Wow! That took pure tenacity to build that thing. That’s one of only two kits that I put back in the box and never seriously considered building again. The other was the Modelcraft F-82. Great job, Spiros.

  10. The old Helldiver certainly is a classic airframe, as is this kit. An expertly build model, not a kit for the easily discouraged! Good Job, Spiros !

  11. Looks great!

  12. @fiveten Spiros, you know I love dive bombers, especially the ones with two wings! This is a fantastic-looking build, even not knowing that the kit was a difficult one. I wonder if you or anyone else knows, did the SBC have split dive flaps on the lower wings? I saw one model done that way, but haven't found any references to back it up.

    • Thanks Robert @robgenev665!
      Yes, seems that the SBC had split dive flaps on the lower wings!
      Here's a pic I found from the amazing World War Phots website, depicting XSBC-4 BuNo 0582 with dive flaps out:
      ( Image attribution : )

  13. Very nicely done my friend @fiveten.
    For sure I'm going to read the arctivle on MM since I'm interested to see how you did the rigging of the wings. I will definitely need some hints for my next build.
    Compliments on this old beauty.

    • Thanks my friend @johnb!

      Rigging was done by predrilling holes before attaching the wings together, then stretched sprue inserted there, with a smear of glue.

      If the holes are a tad on the deep side, and the stretched sprue cut just smaller, it "clicks" into the holes; then a tiny smear of glue (with a needle or so), then, if there's any sagging upon curing, tightening with my wife's hairdryer.

      If you decide to go for stretched sprue, you might choose a silver or black sprue, depending on your riggings color, so you will not have to paint it!

      Drawback of stretched sprue is that it easilly breaks upon the slightest mishandling...

      Your skills are perfect to present an amazing rigging result!

  14. Spiros, this is an amazing build. Very interesting aircraft and you captured it beautifully! Well done sir.

  15. What a result, Spiros, definitely liked. Unfortunately modeling madness is not available here in China for some reason... still you've done a great job on what is obviously a difficult kit, and your photographs really set it off.

  16. Again, looks even better upon second viewing with the additional photos. One thing for sure, as you said, when building these old school low injection kits: “test fit three times and glue once.”

    Glad you succeeded in putting it together instead of throwing it against a wall in frustration. Or were you tempted?

  17. nice one @fiveten ! you did something beautiful out of that ancient kit
    Congrats my friend!

  18. Wonderful job my friend!

  19. Wow Spiros, that is some amazing work my friend

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