SBD 2 Dauntless

Trumpeter 1/32 SBD 2 Dauntless by Tony Adams

I have struggled to do much modelling over the last 6 months due to home and work commitments, hopefully now that I have got my marriage over I may have more time ( who am I kidding!). Since finishing my 1/32 Spitfire IX I have been looking for a real challenge to develop my skills, this Dauntless seems to be just the ticket..

I picked up this model from Modelzone in Southampton for a ridiculous price of £29.99 considering what’s in the box. It consists of a huge amount of very well detailed plastic , the model would be spectacular out of the box, however at last year’s Farnborough show I managed to pick up 6 sets of Eduard photo etch ( Front Interior , Rear Interior, Exterior, Flaps, Engine and Seatbelts) for the model at half price , so the model is going to be festooned with bling.

With the addition of the Eduard paint masks and resin wheels I had everything ready to start. I found a superb build article by published in AiR modeller by Fanch Lubin detailing an outstanding model ( even if it is a later SBD-3 variant) , I also found an Osprey publication; SBD Dauntless units of WWII which provides some superb period photos. I considered building a pre war SBD-1 variant with striking yellow wings but after due consideration decided to go for a Midway SBD-2 in intermediate blue as detailed on the box lid.


[1] Heaps of very well moulded plactic


[2] A small selection of the many etch frets that will go into the model

As normal, work started on the cockpit, which was the area where most of the etch would end up.

The cockpit was already well detailed but the Eduard sets would really take it to the next level. A few ejection points had to be filled but in general I got on quickly to the fun part and start gluing parts together.

Many interesting details are included in the frets such as oxygen mask cases, ammo boxes and even pad locks for cabinets (which are far too small to see).

The cockpit is made up of a number of discrete sub assembles which makes handing easier, I added the etch and a few scratch built items of my own such as cable harness out of solder wire before painting.

Pilot seat additions included handles and some metal panels The pilot bulkhead ejection marks needed filling before details were added
The pilots rudder pedals in etch and plastic rod The rear bulkhead now with decent looking ammo boxes
The gun ring was formed using the kit part The hatch for the machine gun was cut out

Once the assemblies were complete, I dry fitted them to check for any issues, fortunately everything went together perfectly.

It was now time to start painting, the base colour used was Mr Color US Interior Green, which was well thinned and applied by airbrush. I then darkened the mix and sprayed it into the areas that would be in shadow. A lighter mix was dry brushed to bring out the surface detail.  The interior etch sets included pre painted parts which I left until the main assembles had been painted, this added lots of fine detail to the controls and some wonderful dials for the instrument panel. Dark wash was used to add some grime and dark green applied with as small piece of sponge to represent paint chips. A few metal scratches were added with a silver pencil, before the paint was sealed and dulled down with matt varnish.


The radios look great once the pre painted etch is added

Light and dark areas are defined through adding white and black to the base interior green

The pilot and gunner’s seats complete with pre painted seatbelts

Mig pigment Dark wash used to dirty up the floor, dark green paint chips added with a sponge



The rear crew compartment with oxygen bottles and starter handle!

The main instrument panelt was first painted before the pre painted dials were added and finished with some Klear to represent glass


The rear bulkhead painted and weathered

All the assemblies completed

With all the detail , it would be a shame no to be able to see it, so I have added some white LEDs to illuminate the lower reaches of the cockpit, hopefully that will help.

With all the assemblies completed and painted it was time to take some last photos of the parts before joining the fuselage halves together.  .


This was a little tricky due to the need to get everything lined up, a job that required three hands and a lot of patience. I cemented each section of the fuselage joint in turn running Mr Cement into the gap, waiting for it to dry thoroughly before moving on to the next.

Plenty of clamps were required to keep everything together as the fuselage went together

Hopefully the detail will show when every is finished

The joint didn’t take too much cleaning up which was fortunate as I didn’t want to loose the fine surface detail, so in short time I was on to the wings and in particular the Eduard flaps.


The first step was to get out the razor saw to remove the kits original inner flap.

The flap activation needed to remain


The etch was folded and complemented with some plastic rod and the part was ready


The other flaps were folded and glued together, I hope these look fantastic when all is done.

There were plenty of other bits and pieces of etch to add, here detail is added to the wheel wells

The wings were glued together along with the elevators and ailerons. A lot of online write ups on this model mentioned the poor fit at the wing roots , unfortunately I didn’t take heed and instead of sorting the problem out through adding some plasticard before I fastened the fuselage to the wings I was left with a large gap to fill. This was accomplished with a generous amount of squadron putty,  rubbing this down did loose a lot of rivet detail which had to be rescribed before I moved on.

The Engine

The engine consists of two assembles , the engine cylinders and the crankcase along with firewall , engine supports , oil tank and air intake. Eduard’s engine set added plenty of bling. Curing construction I managed to lose a part of the front assembly , with luck it may turn up on my modelling bench else I will have to scratch build a replacement.


The engine cylinders were sprayed Alclad Steel and the push rods polished Aluminium

The read part of the engine was painted semi gloss black before drybrushed with aluminium

Eduard plug leads add even  more detail


Plug leads added along with the distributor and cylinder covers

The rear of the engine block showing the exhaust pipes

The completed front engine assembly


The front firewall and engine supports were supplemented with more etch

The read engine was mounted into the front firewall while the rear firewall was assembled along with the oil tank

Another View of the front firewall assembly

The completed rear engine assembly.

In order to display this detail the kit provides clear moulded parts, however I want to create a representative example of the aircraft so I decided to remove an engine panel to provide a more realistic view. This was easier said then done as the clear mouldings were very brittle. First I sprayed the parts with primer so I could see the panel lines clearly , then I scored the panels using a sharp scalpel using dyno tape as a guide to reduce slippage. I then used my razor saw to slowly cut out the panel.

Once cleaned up the assembly was mounted to the plane.

A few other bits and pieces were then constructed


Replacement etch bomb vanes replaced the original plastic

Original and etch wing bomb mounts , I have left off some of the more delicate parts for now as their bound to be damaged as I paint the aircraft.

With the engine assembly pretty much complete, this was soon fastened to the airframe. I cut out an engine side panel to allow the rear of the engine to be viewed. The cut panel was temporarily fastened back into place to mask the interior while further masking was added to protect the cockpit area.


The first job was to prime the whole model with Grey Tamiya Fine Surface primer, this was decanted and applied by airbrush. The primer coat inevitably showed imperfections in some of the joints which required further reworking and priming. Once I was happy the primer was rubbed down with micromesh to produce a very smooth finish. The etch flaps, bombs and other additional items were also primed.


The model ready for painting

One the primer was dry I pre shaded the panel lines

I then started the pre-shading process which took several evenings. All the visible panel lines and rivet lines were sprayed using thinned black using a low air pressure to keep the paint line as thin as possible.


First coat of the underside colour, leaving plenty of the preshade showing through, this was toned down further on the next coat

Plenty of masking tape was used to protect the underside

Using Mr Colour Light Grey the undersides were spayed using a number of light coats taking care not to totally obscure the pre shade. Once I was happy I left it a good 2 days to dry before comprehensively masking ready to paint the top surfaces. This was spayed using Mr Color Blue Gray again taking care not to overdo it. Having studied photo of the aircraft in theatre the fuselage sides appeared considerably faded compared to the top surfaces. I recreated this though applying thin coats of Blue Gray paint lightened with the Light Gray, as this aircraft was only repainted 6 months before the period I was modelling I didn’t want to over do the effect.  With the main painting done the model was given a coat of Klear to protect the finish and provide a high gloss finish.

The sides of the aircraft was lightened to represent sun fading

The flaps were painted, the outsides with the main colour and the insides Tamiya gloss red.

While removing the masking I managed to pull off the outer paint which was very annoying.


The engine was installed once the main painting was competed

The flaps following a minor mask removal foh pah


I had read in the forums that the kit supplied decals were not great having a tendency to break up, so I decided to purchase after market decals made by a US company Yellow Wings. Two sets of decals were required setting me back over £20, still if they went on without problem it would be a small price to pay.

How wrong I was, these decals were awful, they were incredibly thick and brittle needing huge amounts of decal solution to get them to settle into the panel lines. Any touch caused them to break , to get the main decals in place took hours and needed a considerable amount to touching up afterwards with paint mixed to match their colour.


The Yellow Wings decals were truly terrible, breaking up at the merest of touches. It took hours of effort to get them down half decently.

The wing walkways broke up totally

Once I had the main decals were on I gave up on the Yellow Wings decals reverting to the use of the kit decals for the various stencils and minor markings.


With all decals on and restored another coat of Klear was added to seal them and prepare for weathering.

I then got on with some of the sub assembles. I purchased some resin aftermarket replacements for the rubber kit wheels , the undercarriage doors were created with yet more Eduard etch. The rear gunners gun was sprayed semi gloss black before being dry brushed with silver, the handles were giving a wood effect using oils.


The undercarriage were constructed, the doors are etch and the wheels resin. Metal foil was used on the oleo legs

A few images of the rear gun


Eduard Masks made painting the canopy a breeze

They looked pretty good once complete

The propeller was painted black and the tips painted blue , red and yellow ( I had no intention) of using decals! The flaps / drive brakes were attached in a very fiddly operation involving tweezers, huge patience and lots of “pinging” small lengths of plastic rod.

Douglas SBD-2 : No 2106 The aircraft this model depicts is serial no 2106 one of 87 SBD-2s build by Douglas , this is the only SBD-2 that survives today after being recovered from Lake Michigan in 1993, the aircraft has been restored and is currently displayed at the National Museum of Naval Aviation , Pensacola , Florida , US.This aircraft was originally assigned to bombing squadron 2 (VB-2) on board USS Lexington (CV-2) and wearing the code 2-B-2 during most of 1941 and 1942. The exception was a trip to Hawaii on 5 Dec 1941 to repair an engine problem consequently the aircraft was present for the attack on Pearl Harbour. On returning to the Lexington 2106 participated in early pacific operations (the model markings depict this period) .  When Lexington sailed for south pacific in April 1942 2106 was again left behind which was fortunate as Lexingtonwas lost at the Battle of Corel Sea.The aircraft was transported to Midway Island to reinforce US Marine Corp Bombing Squadron 241 (VMSB-241 – in preparation for the anticipated Japanese attack. On 4th June 2106 manned by Lt Daniel Iverson and PFC Wallace Reid participated in the Battle of Midway surviving the attack on Hiryuthat cost VMSB-241 half its aircraft. This attack resulted in Iverson and Wallace being wounded in action for which they received DFCs the aircraft collecting at least 210 holes in it’s airframe! (see left)  Following Midway the aircraft was overhauled and sent to the Carrier Qualification Training Unit (CQTU) in Illinois. On 11 June 1943 while undergoing a routine carrier landing qualification flight the aircraft stalled an spun into Lake Michigan, where it remained in 170 ft of water until it was recovered some 50 years later.2016 is one of only four aircraft known that have survived that were present at Pearl Harbour and the only surviving aircraft that played a role at Midway.

The extending linkages for the dive brakes made from etch and plastic rods.

Fixing the etch dive breaks/   flaps was a nightmare but was worth the effort

With most of the assembly done it was on to the weathering. First the model was coated in Flory Modeller dark wash ( ex Pro Modellers) which brought out the panel lines and the rivet detail.


Flory Modeller dark wash applied to all surfaces brought out the panel lines

Exhaust stain added with Tamiya smoke

As silver pencil was used to add various scratches to the airframe particularly on the propeller , flaps and wing walkways. With a coat of Mr Color Matt varnish and the addition of the radio aerial and navigation lights the model was at last complete. This model has been  on the work bench a good 200 hours , overall I am very pleased with the result. I have ordered a carrier deck base which will contain the batteries for the lights, but that will have to wait for now. In the meantime the model will be entered in next week’s annual competition, it’ll be interesting to see how it gets on.

Photos of the competed model

Dauntless SBD History: In the spring of 1938, a Northrop dive-bomber designated the BT-1 entered service with the US Navy. Its influence was felt over at the Douglas Company, where a new naval dive-bomber was designed and produced based on the Northrop design. Initially designated the XBT-2, the new design was later called the SBD when Northrop was bought out by the Douglas Company. Production began in 1940, and although the SBD had a general likeness to its Northrop predecessor, it was a completely different airplane. Testing of the prototype (with a 1,000-hp Wright Cyclone engine) revealed an exceptionally capable airplane.

In April 1939, the US Marine Corps and US Navy placed orders for the SBD-1and SBD-2, respectively, the latter having increased fuel capacity and revised armament. The first SBD-1s entered service with the Marines’ VMB-2 Squadron in late 1940, and the first SBD-2s joined the Navy in early 1941. The next variant to appear, the SBD-3, entered service in March 1941, and incorporated self-sealing and larger fuel tanks, armour protection, a bullet-proof windshield, and four machine guns. The SBD-4 followed with an upgraded 24-volt electrical system, and a few of these were converted to SBD-4P reconnaissance platforms.

The next, and most produced, variant was the SBD-5, which was built at Douglas’s new Tulsa, Oklahoma plant. It had a 1,200-hp R-1820-60 engine and increased ammunition capacity. Over 2,400 SBD-5s were built, and a few were shipped to the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, under the designation Dauntless DB.Mk I, but these were never used operationally. Mexico also took delivery of a small number of SBD-5s. The SBD-6, the final variant, had an even more powerful engine and greater fuel capacity.

Meanwhile, the US Army, realizing that it did not have a dive bomber equal in capability to Germany’s Ju 87 Stuka, ordered the SBD-3 in 1941, under the designation A-24. This aircraft was identical to the Navy airplanes except it did not have an arresting hook, and its tailwheel had an inflated tire instead of a solid rubber one. The A-24 was never found to be of great use during WWII, as its range and performance were inadequate for service in the South Pacific, and the dive-bombing mission was of little use elsewhere. Nevertheless, the A-24 (and later the A-24A, equivalent of the SBD-4; and A-24B, equivalent of the SBD-5) remained in service with the US Army Air Corps for several years after the war.

Nicknames: Barge; Clunk; Speedy-D; Speedy-3; Slow But Deadly; Banshee(A-24).

Specifications (SBD-2):

Manufacturer: Douglas Aircraft Company

Dimensions: Length: 32 ft., 8 in.; Height: 13 ft., 7 in., Wingspan: 41ft., 6 in.

Weight: Empty: 6,345 lb.; Gross: 10,400 lb.

Power Plant: One 1,000 horsepower Wright R-1820-52 engine

Performance: Maximum Speed: 250 M.P.H.; Service Ceiling: 27,100 ft.;

Maximum Range with Bomb Load: 1,345 miles

Armament: Two fixed forward-firing .50-in. guns, one flexible-mounted rear-firing .30-in.

guns, 1,200 lb. of ordnance

Crew: Pilot and gunner

Number Built:  5,936Number Still Airworthy: 3



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