1. Plastikmodellbauclub Nürnberg e.V.
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  Model and photos by Wilfried Eck 

Curtiss SB2C-4 Helldiver, Revell/Monogram 1:48, VB-9 aboard CV-10 Yorktown, 03-04 1945

Having made a Helldiver in start configuration (wings spread), one in parking position (wings folded) seemed just right. As making folded wings isn't too difficult the rest was to be easy going. No fuss, no ambitions for winning a prize. Just fun. So I thought.

In principle making folded wings follows the same way: Seperate outer wings, file outer edges to scale thickness; see for arms or hydraulic lines of the real aircraft. This is to conceal the brass wire holding the model wings;  add bulkheads with holes for the wires in inner wing;  insert brass wire parts into narrow "houses" (= two narrow strips with gap in size of the wire with top placed after insertion of the wire).  Place outer wing in exact position (wires help) and repeat adding bulkhead and "houses". Whether you like to bend the wires first or after adding the upper halves of the wing is to your choice. In any case inner and outer wing parts have to be seperated as detailing of the visible parts fof the bulkheads is needed.  Admittedly in case of the Helldiver this took some time (and patience) but is manageable.
As the only 1/48 SB2C-4 kit I know came from Accurate Miniatures I supposed this kit being reboxed by Revell.  So not too bad. But I was mistaken, the instruction leaflet stating Monogram. Never heard of such a kit. In the first moment I even assumed some short run attempt, but instruction leaflet and a close look at some parts revealed this Helldiver being rather complex in some regions. Alas the instructions were of little help. They are the weak point of this kit. I suppose Revell got the formed parts but no instructions. So somebody without knowledge of the real aircraft had to have a look at the appropriate parts and assume how they should get together, drawing arrows in the approximate directions. In example: The hydraulic jacks for the bomb bay covers are to be placed near the front and rear ends. In reality it's up to the modeler to guess the exact positions, Immediately besides the bulkheads or some way further away. There is no pin, no hole or other indication where to fit in exactly.
On the plus side PE parts for the dive brakes, ignition cables, the perforated ring of the MG mount, and an assortment of smaller parts including buckles for seat belts were quite helpful.
In case of the fabric covering the kit falls way down. Deep trapezoidal depressions with sharp edged ribs in between create something akin to the rudder of an A-4 Skyhawk,  Certainly not the way it looked like in the real thing. But that's exactly the way I can live with: Simply fill all depressions with putty, even it to a smooth surface and sand it smooth after the putty has dried. As putty usually shrinks a little bit afterwards this generates the surface real fabric covering shows (see photos in German page "Bespannung").
Detailing of the front cockpit is adequate, though a throttle and adjacent levers would have been fine. So I had to make them myself. Contrary to the instruction leaflet and modellers belief  the seat belts of USN aircraft of this time and well into the 50ies did not run over the seat back rest, but over a bar behind/above the seat instead (correctly included in the Monogram seat).  A pilot's figurine is also included, but as the needed second crew member is missing it's good for the spares box and nothing else (no pilot flew alone). Though the transparent parts are clear and adequately thin, I couldn't use them.  I don't like too prominent framework (flush in the real one), and I got problems with masking the various window panes. In the outcome after a few futile attempts I referred to the proven way of scratch building (certainly not using a balsa block!, see appropriate page C,cockpit hoods scratch).  Frames by suitably painted decal strips.
Concerning the complex rear crew station and the said poor instructions I doubt the average modeller will get it right.  Again no location pins or else. Especially and wrongly so when it comes to the placement of the tubular raft container, in the original aircraft resting to the left of  the uppermost instrument box.  Revell wants this container to be glued to the inside of the clear part forming the front hood. This done would not only show ugly glue marks, but prevent this combination to be placed flush with the rear end of the fuselage as the kit container is too thick,  resulting in the clear part to protude over the fuselage side. So I had to make the tubular container with handling device by my myself.  Whether a bad fit of the instrument bulkhead at the bottom is fault of Monogram or myself I can't decide, so check before cementing. The machine gun with PE visor parts was fixed horizontally,  This was the standard way of stowing. Never, never obliquely over the rear hood. In this way the rear hood couldn't be closed and firing the guns would have been restricted to a very narrow field. In reality the guns were first pulled aft, the rear decking lowered to give a wider coverage of fire, and the guns placed into firing position. ammunition belts weren't provided as PE parts mine came from the spares box. Antenna wire thinned thread from tights.
The "highlight" of the instructions is to be seen in the last pages, showing markings for a SB2C-4 from CV-9 Essex and one SB2C-5 each of the French and Italian Navy.  As the kit contains parts for the -4 version only, applying decals would not be sufficient. The -5 differred noticeably in the cockpit, framing of the hood, bomb bay and doors.  Colors are identified by screened squares, some very much alike, leading to an alphabet which  Revell paints are to be mixed. In the outcome grossly wrong. Instead of the usual tri color paint Revell states five (!) colors. Contrary to USN standard the author makes one believe the undersides of the outer wings and the vertical stabiliser were not the color of the fuselage sides, but different (some tint nobody heard of). To get Sea Blue for the uppper sides 60 % "Lufthansa Blau" (.. blue) and 40 % "Weiß" (white) have to be mixed, resulting in a light blue gray color. For the other two >other aircraft Revell "expert" reverses the grade of sheen. Late Helldivers were painted Glossy Sea Blue over all, the portion in front of the cockpit being non specular to reduce glare. The author wants the contrary, the upper front to be glossy and the remaining surfaces matte.  In summary: The shown markings are o.k., but otherwise these instructions are the worst I ever saw.
For the real appearance of colors see page "Originalfarben US Navy" (sorry, only German text)-
As most models show said "Essex" based Helldiver I chose one from VB-9 on board of CV-10 Yorktown II. This necessitated making the identification numbers and the tactical marking myself and the national insignias as well as the ones supplied in the kit were too large.
I used Vallejo Model Air "Glossy Sea Blue", "Interior Green" and "White"  which show the original tints very well. (Vallejo "USN Sea Blue" shows "aged" paint).  As I couldn't get Vallejo " Intermediate Blue"  UA45 by LifeColor was used instead with very convincing results.  Naturally with a final coat of non specular clear paint.   No "ageing" as the operation time of VB-9 was relatively short and the waters south of Kyushu are not the south sea with "hot tropical sun".  The same goes for chipping paint, never to be seen on an aircraft carrier.  No "highlighting" of panel joints as the SB2C had overlapping panels.  Long exhaust stacks prevented soot on the fuselage sides.  This results in a rather clean model, devoid of any artistic applications (some may call it boring), but I can live with it as my intention was not a piece of modern art, but - if possible - a model showing what a real Helldiver on board of CV-10 looked like.
Concluding: It should have been easy going...
But not with this kit!