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Book Review
SBD Dauntless Detail & Scale
SBD Dauntless in Detail & Scale
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:

Created by modelers for modelers, SBD Dauntless in Detail & Scale is a treasure trove of source material for anyone interested in the SBD. History and specific aircraft details are presented for the SBD-1 through SBD-6 Dauntless and the A-24 Banshee.

SBD Dauntless in Detail & Scale is the fifth volume by Detail and Scale, a publisher offering modelers and historians of the Dauntless an excellent source of history and detail. Detail and Scale is a publishing company that has been producing high-quality technical and historical military aviation books since c.1978. SBD Dauntless is presented through 102 pages, boasting over 220 photographs (more than 170 in color), and 17 full color profiles. It is catalogued as ISBN 9781973289555.

Authors Bert Kinzey and Rock Roszak bring some 60 years of first-hand military aviation expertise into their Detail and Scale brand. Roszak, a retired Air Force colonel, creates the illustrations in the books. Both are modelers, too.

Content includes items from official U.S. Navy manuals and other primary sources. Detail and Scale book formats are available in print, plus eBooks for the Kindle and iBook.

I've read Detail and Scale books before and found them impressive and yet never comprehended just how comprehensive they are until I reviewed their F-102 series. Now it is time to show you their Dauntless book.

If you haven't enjoyed this book brand before, SBD Dauntless in Detail & Scale is a nuts and bolts volume. Through 102 pages the content is delivered through these chapters and sections:
    Historical Summary
      A-24 Banshee
      Dimensions & Drawings
    Dauntless Details
      Cockpit Details
      Canopy Details
      Fuselage Detail
      Wing Details
      Landing Gear Details
      Tail Details
      Engine Details
      Armament Details
    Dauntless Colors
    Modelers Sections
For me, this is an exciting book as, if I was restricted to only build one WW2 USN aircraft for the rest of my life, it would be Douglas' Dauntless. Perhaps no other USN carrier plane made such an impact in the first 18 months of the Pacific war.

The book commences by introducing us to restored Dauntlesses in care of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), National Museum of Naval Aviation, and others. These are the credentials for what follows.

Eight pages of Historical Summary start in 1934 with the U.S. Navy's call for a new scout bomber. It found fruition with the Vought SB2U Vindicator and the Northrup XBT-1. The text covers that while the SB2U did not make a substantial mark, the XBT-1 was the progenitor for Douglas' Dauntless, the SBD. A concise history of SBD development and war record follows, including the USAAF (United States Army Air Force) A-24 Banshee version, and those that went to other countries. Amazing photographs populate the pages to support the text.

Seven SBD variants mentioned in the previous chapter are explored with more detail through 13 pages in Variants. Each Dauntless type is described and each variant has a table of data (described below). USN Bureau Numbers are listed for each, too.

Each SBD version is discussed including components and changes thereof, including but not limited to the:
    Electric system
    Flotation gear
    Machine guns
    Photo-reconnaissance gear
Dauntless Details begins with Cockpit Details, scrutinizing a SBD-3. There are 13 color photos of the front cockpit including four specifically of the pilot seat (three with the seat out of the cockpit). The rear cockpit is illustrated with seven photos, with an eight photo of a float light! (A float light is a small bomb-like light designed to, well, float. It was used in navigating to judge drift from plotted course due to winds aloft.) This section is essential for modelers as few aspects of an airplane are as popular as the cockpit. Structural components, wiring and plumbing, flare pouches, and an abundance of other items are shown with clarity. Similar photographic detail and information for the other subjects are:
    Canopy Details: 2 pages; 10 photos
    Fuselage Details: 6 pages; 23 photos (Did you know about the small clips along the fuselage to anchor the canopy covering!?); 3 U.S. Navy color illustrations (stiffeners and gauge of airframe plating)
    Wing Details: 5 pages; 22 photos; 5 color and black-and-white illustrations from an U.S.N. manual showing panel lines and rivet detail; lights; LSO glide slope ; pitot tube; wheel wells; etc.
    Dive Flap Details: this unique part of the SBD is covered with 2 pages and 8 photos including a closeup of the hydraulic actuator
    Landing Gear Details: 3 pages; 13 photos
    Tail Details: 2 pages; 7 photos; 2 U.S.N. illustrations of components and rudder framework
    Engine Details: 2 pages; 8 photos
    Armament Details
      Offensive: 2 pages; 10 photos; U.S.N. drawing of practice bomb dispenser
      Fixed Guns: 2 pages; 8 photos inside and outside the cockpit; access panels open
      Flexible Guns: 3 pages; 11 photos; gunner seat and turret ring; single and twin .30-caliber machine gun mounts; ammo box and feed mechanism
These sections provide modelers and historians an incredible visual resource for understanding and replicating the SBD.

Dauntless Colors may be the most popular chapter - everyone wants to know how to paint their model as paint is the most obvious and basic first step of detailing. SBDs served from the "yellow-wing" interwar days until VJ Day, wearing perhaps every paint scheme USN fielded. This section discusses the 30 December, 1940 directive that eradicated the colorful peacetime colors in favor of martial schemes and markings. Further directives for camouflage schemes are discussed and illustrated, including the evolution of lettering colors, national insignia, and rudder stripes.

Modelers!, you will love Modelers Section! Dozens of injection-molded SBD models have been released since the 1950s in eight known scales: 1/144; 1/120; 1/96; 1/72; 1/50; 1/48; 1/32 and 1/18. (Excluding SBDs scaled for aircraft carrier models; add those and you add at least 1/720, 1/700, 1/480, 1/350 and 1/200 - and don't forget the 1/16 balsa SBD from Guillow!) Twenty-one pages survey the injection-molded "Speedy Dees" with concise reviews of all the kit models, including scales, brands and rebrands. Kit histories are mentioned, as are tables of aftermarket offerings and supporting products. A shout-out goes to Haagen Klaus for compiling much of the content, especially Aftermarket Items.

Accuracy characteristics for particular kits are pointed out, i.e., cowl carburetor inlets and gun mounts to name a few components. It is important to understand what changes were made for variants, and the authors' text and tables help with this information. All the better to help modelers model the best Dauntless model possible.

Kits are presented with photographs of several completed models, and many show kit parts and decals. Aftermarket items are mentioned, and strengths and weaknesses of each kit are discussed. Detail & Scale even dares to comment upon the main glaring flaw of all "modern" Dauntless kits - the failure to make the model authentic and accurate by reproducing the raised rivets that festooned all SBDs. Fortunately, there is a decal manufacturer who makes raised rivet decals.

From the introduction through the modeling chapter, such expertise of the authors and contributors should allow modelers to create the most accurate Douglas SBD Dauntless desired.

Photographs, Artwork, Graphics
Like the visual support of D&S' F-102 book, it is also outstanding in this book. It has been reported that the United States War Department shot most of America's Second World War archives in color and true or false, Kodachrome was common. USN used miles of it and this book is enriched with several USN color images. They have absolute value for the modeler. Some present specialized characteristics such as weathering; the cover color photo reveals excellent weathering patterns, and the same SBD shown in a black-and-white photo shows the same weathering with different contrast.

Photos by the authors were shot with modelers in mind, i.e., two color shots inside the CAF SBD-5 show the canteens stowed in the cockpit.

A. Artwork and Illustrations
Using U.S. Navy manual illustrations and original artwork by co-author Rock Roszak, the text is well supported with illustrations and other graphics. Detail & Scale also reproduced or created six full pages of black-and-white line art for the:
    i. U.S. Navy general arrangement dimensions and drawing of SBD-5 & -6: profile, planform and frontal, with dimensional and technical data.

    ii. U.S. Navy schematic, SBD-5 & -6: fuel tanks, armament, armor protection, gunner practical sighting limits.

    iii. Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless: left and right profiles; planform (above and below); head-on.

    iv. SBD-1 profile.

    v. SBD-2 profile.

    vi. SBD-3 profile shown in a dive, flaps open, bomb in crutch.
Each drawing has a scale bar.

Original color artwork fills in color details not covered in photography. It also illustrates changing colors and markings of SBDs.
    1. Profile, SBD-2, BuNo. 4570, LT Clarence Dickinson, VS-6, USS Enterprise, December 7 1941, during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

    2. Profile, SBD-3, LT Richard "Dick" Best, commander of VB-6, USS Enterprise, Battle of Midway, 1942.

    3. Profile and wing upper surfaces, SBD-1, BuNo. 1597, Squadron Commander VMB-2, "yellow-wing" scheme.

    4. Profile and wing upper surfaces, SBD-3, Scouting Five, Light Gray overall.

    5. Profile and wing upper surfaces, SBD-2, Scouting Two, September 1941, experimental dark green upper surfaces.

    6. Profile and wing upper surfaces, SBD-3, Scouting Two, September 1941, experimental dark green upper surfaces.

    7. Profile and wing upper surfaces, SBD-3, Ens J. A. Leppla and John Liska, VS-2, USS Lexington, Battle of the Coral Sea.

    8. Profile, SBD-3, unconfirmed mount of Ens J. A. Leppla and John Liska, VS-2, USS Lexington, Battle of the Coral Sea.

    9. Profile, SBD-3, VS-5, USS Yorktown, Battle of Midway, after removal of red from national insignia.

    10. Profile and wing upper surfaces, SBD-3, VS-41, USS Ranger, Operation Torch, 1942.

    11. Profile and wing upper surfaces, SBD-5, VB-9, USS Essex, mid-1943, tri-color camouflage and red border national insignia.

    12. Profile, SBD-5, VMSB-331, Marshall Islands, mid-1944, final national insignia design.

    13. Profile, cockpit area closeup, and VB-16 insignia, SBD-5, VB-16, USS Lexington, 1944.

    14. Profile and wing upper surfaces, SBD-5, unknown training unit, blue bordered national insignia.

    15. Profile and wing upper surfaces, SBD-5, "gray S-14", VMS-3, U.S. Virgin Islands, wearing Atlantic scheme.

    16. Profile and wing upper surfaces, A-24 Banshee, USAAF 407th Bomb Group (Dive), Alaska, 1943.

    17. Profile and wing upper surfaces, SBD-3, No. 25 Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

    18. Control columns, pilot's and removable rear stick.

    19. Flare pistol positioned for firing through rear cockpit port.

B. Charts & Tables
1. SBD Data (SBD-1 through SBD-6)
    Empty Weight
    Maximum Weight
    Maximum Speed
    Cruising Speed
    Rate of Climb
    Service Ceiling
    Bombing Range
    Scouting Range
2. Aftermarket Items listing manufacturer, product number, description, and comments:
    a. 1:32 Scale - Photoetch Metal Detail Parts
    b. 1:32 Scale - Resin Detail Parts
    c. 1:32 Scale - Decals
    d. 1:48 Scale - Photoetch Metal Detail Parts
    e. 1:48 Scale - Resin Detail Parts
    f. 1:48 Scale - Multimedia Detail Sets
    g. 1:48 Scale - Decals
    h. 1:72 Scale - Photoetch Metal Detail Sets
    i. 1:72 Scale - Resin Detail Sets
    j. 1:72 Scale - Decals
    k. Landing Gear - All Scales
    l. Masking Sets - All Scales
    m. Other/Miscellanea
Could one ask for a more comprehensive section? Those graphics strongly enhance not only the text but also enjoyment of reading this book.

Being a fan of the iconic SBD and a modeler, I can't say enough about the value of SBD Dauntless in Detail & Scale. The expertise of the authors and contributors, access to restored and preserved Dauntlesses afforded them, and their modeling prowess should allow modelers to create the most accurate Douglas SBD Dauntless desired.

Modelers and historians should be satisfied with the level of information presented. The exploration of interior components and special equipment should be especially appreciated. The chapter on models is particularly interesting.

The gallery of photographs, illustrations, and data graphics robustly enhance the text.

I do not have any meaningful criticism of this book and happily recommend it to modelers and students of the Douglas SBD Dauntless, dive-bombers, carrier strike aircraft, and WW2 USN aircraft.

You can find out more about this and other Detail and Scale publications at their website:

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Excellent up close and personal photography. Comprehensive content presented by experts in military aviation.
Lows: Nothing of consequence.
Verdict: Modelers and historians should be thrilled with the level of information presented, marking this book a must-have for fans of the SBD Dauntless dive-bomber.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: Vol. 5; 9781973289555
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jan 06, 2020
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Detail & Scale Aviation Publications!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright 2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Superb review, Fred, as always. Looks like a must have for Dauntless builders in all scales.
JAN 07, 2020 - 05:04 AM

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