Hasegawa SBD-5 Dauntless
Hasegawa's recent SBD-5 is a beautifully engineered kit. It fits like a dream, and has crisply recessed panel detail. On the down side (if there is one) the cockpit is pretty sparse, with decals for the instruments and very basic machine guns. I dressed mine up with belts for the pilot, and then brought out what detail was present with washes and dry-brushing. The other problem with the kit is the dive brakes. The kit dive brakes are moulded shut, with the perforations depicted as recessed circles in the parts. My first thought was to drill out the holes, but the wing flaps are moulded as one piece, and the holes aren't aligned from top to bottom. Without going to photoetched parts, it looks like the only thing to do is paint the holes red to depict the inside of the opposite surface. To do this neatly I sprayed the brakes with red, then applied Micro Mask to each hole with a small brush. After I painted the other colours I carefully chipped away at the mask with a toothpick, using water to soften the exposed mask. After all that the holes still came out irregular, and I had to touch up about half of them! The rest of the kit goes together quite well. Photos seem to indicate that the pneumatic tailwheel (the fat one) and the underwing Yagi aerials should be fitted. I tried to add the cross pieces to the Yagi aerials but it turned into a big mess and I gave up.
The SBD stands out from other ex-USN aircraft in that it wore the old three tone scheme (Hellcats, Bearcats, Helldivers and Privateers all wore overall midnight blue). A prominent feature of the aircraft was that the US star and bar was painted out using a darker colour, probably non-specular sea blue, leaving the outline of the marking visible. I carried this a little bit further by using lightened versions of the base colours (actually a slightly darkened white for the underside) and then spraying insignia shapes using the base colours straight from the bottle. I also highlighted panel lines on the upper surfaces using airbrushing, washing and drybrushing. Panels details on the underside (all those access covers) were highlighted using a 0.3 mm HB mechanical pencil, slightly smudged using an artist's rolled paper stick. Markings came from Carpena's Indochina 2em Partie sheet. The decals were slightly translucent, silvered somewhat, and broke up once on the model, but they don't look too bad in the end. The result certainly stands out, and I highly recommend this kit.
Although not available when I finished this model, the best reference source out there on the SBD in French Service is Crosnier and Dubois' Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless & Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver.
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