Academy 1/72 SB2C-4 Helldiver “Special Edition”

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

Overview

It hasn’t even been a year since Academy first released their Helldiver kit, and this new release offers no change in the plastic from the initial release. Rather than retell the story, for the basic history and overview of the kit, I’ll refer you back to Norm Filer’s excellent review back in January of this year.

What’s New

So, what makes this a Special Edition? One thing: flaps. The complex dive brake/flap arrangement on the Helldiver is one that is impossible to produce in injection plastic. The parts simply would be too large and too thick. The only real solution here is photoetch, and it was not long after the initial release that Eduard came out with a nice set of PE dive brakes for the Academy kit. This Special Edition includes that photoetch, eliminating the need to buy the Eduard set separately.

The photoetch is intricate and will require some cutting of the kit, so be prepared with your razor saw. I strongly recommend cutting inside the line, and carefully sanding to get a perfect fit. You can model these in two configurations: with just the flaps down, or both flaps and brakes out. The most common scenario for a Helldiver on the ground was with just the flaps down, but by opening both up, the model gets a huge splash of color, as the insides of these were painted red.

While on the subject of color, the decal sheet provides markings for three aircraft. The first is from VB-83 off of the USS Essex in April of 1945. It is in a three-tone camouflage, with large white diamonds on the tail and wings. It is this scheme that appears on the boxtop. The other two options are both overall sea blue. The first is from VB-84 off of the USS Bunker Hill in March 1945. It has white arrows on the vertical fin and wings, and a yellow cowl front. The second is from the US Coast Guard out of Kaneohe in December 1945. This one adds quite a bit more color, with the whole cowl, the spinner, the rudder, the elevators, and the wingtips all in yellow. Large RESCUE markings in black on a yellow rectangle are on the fuselage sides. While this is listed as an SB2C-4, the only photo I managed to turn up on the plane seems to show an SB2C-5, distinguishable by the lack of spinner on the propeller and underwing radar pod. Interestingly, the Coast Guard website lists the aircraft as an SB2C-4, so confusion abounds. Either way, this is easily the most colorful of the three options, even more so with the opened brakes and that bright red.

Conclusion

This is an outstanding kit of the Helldiver, made all the better with the addition of the Eduard photoetch. If you want to build a pile of Beasts, this is the release you should go after, as it is more economical than buying the PE separately. My thanks to MRC for the review sample.

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