SBD was a scout and dive bomber aircraft produced by Douglas from mid-1940 to mid-1944. Scout Bomber Douglas was also known by the nickname Slow But Deadly and is famous by its actions against Japanese fleet at the Battle of Midway. The design started in mid-30’s and the Marines received SBDs in 1940 while the Navy got theirs the next year. SBD’s first major appaerance was at the Battle of the Coral Sea where they sank one and damaged another carrier. With an armament of two forward firing .050cal M2 machine guns and rear gunners twin 0.303cal ones, SBDs were used as anti-torpedo aircraft fighters as well, downing several Japanese aircraft trying to attack USS Lexington and Yorktown. SBD pilots also fought against more nimble Japanese fighters; the most famous skirmish being of pilot Stanley ‘Swede’ Vejtasa, who was attacked by three A6M2 Zeros and managed to shoot down two while clipping the wing off a third in a frontal head on pass.
SBDs earned their worth during the Battle of Midway where in just 6 minutes, their bombs caused devastating damage that would lead to sinking of three Japanese carriers and a few hours later wrecked havoc with the same result on the fourth as well as two heavy cruisers, damaging one and sinking the other.
SBDs also played a major role in the Battle of Guadalcanal as well as in the Atlantic in Operations Torch and Leader. By the 1944, the aircraft was starting to get replaced by the SB2C Helldiver and the last major contribution by the SBDs was the Battle of the Phillipine Sea. SBDs sunk more shipping in the Pacific War than any other bomber and has a positive kill:loss ratio against other aircraft, which is a rare feat for a bomber aircraft.
Richard H. Best
Richard H. Best graduated at US Naval Academy in 1932 and finished his aviation training at Pensacola at the end of 1935. He first served as a F2F fighter pilot aboard USS Lexington and later transfered to Pensacola as an instructor in Training Squadron Five. With trouble looming above the horizon, after just a year at Pensacola, he requested posting as a dive bomber pilot in the Pacific Fleet and was transferred to VB-6 aboard USS Enterprise at the end of May 1940. Quickly he advanced from Operations Officer to the Executive Officer in the early 1942 and took over the Commanding Officer role just before the Battle of Midway. He flew his first real combat missions against Japanese shipping at Marshall islands in early 1942, followed by attacks on Wake Island and Marcus Island.
Best and his VB-6 squadron took off from USS Enterprise, along with VS-6 SBDs, VT-6 Devastators and VF-6 Wildcat escorts. Due to the total mess that happened above the Japanese fleet and several misunderstandings, while VB-6 should attack Kaga and VS-6 Akagi, the later attacked Kaga, along with several VB-6 SBDs, while Best was left alone with just two wingmans to attack the Akagi instead. LTJG Koreger’s first bomb was a near miss, Best hit the flight deck which the bomb penetrated and exploded among the hangar full of fueled and armed torpedo bombers, causing catastrophic damage while the third bomb dropped by Ens Webber also missed the ship itself, but damaged and jammed Akagi’s rudder.
Later that day, Best participated in the attack on carrier Hiryū and is believed to have dropped one of the 4 bombs that hit the carrier (as confirmed by his gunner Murray). For his actions at the battle of Midway LCDR was awarded the Navy Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross awards.
Unfortunately the day of the attacks, 4th June 1942, was also the last day Best flew the aircraft. After second landing on Enterprise, he started coughing up blood. After some examination, he was diagnosed with Tubercolosis and received treatment stateside. He retired from USN in 1944 with 100% dissability. He later moved to California, where he remained for the rest of his life, working for Douglas and Rand corportaion until his retirement in 1975. Best died in 2001 at the age of 91 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
This is the first aircraft kit by Flyhawk Model and as I am familiar with the top quality ships they make in 1:700 scale, I had nothing but high expectations for this kit. And I have to admit, I wasn’t dissapointed. This is a highly detailed kit featuring both finely detailed recessed panel lines as well as positive rivets where appropriate. Interior details are just fantastic and it’s a shame they get hidden in the black void of the narrow fuselage. There are a few minor shortcomings to the kit as well – wrong font on the decal sheet for tactical numbers, completely open airbrakes (top surface should be closed on ground, so slight modification to the mechanism is required) and the lack of PE parts – missed the later just for the seat harnesses. But all in all a great kit with nice fit and masks included.
VB-6 received SBD-3s shortly before the Battle of Midway so I kept the weathering restrained. Interest fact – VB-6 had uniquely painted landing gear struts for easier LSO recognition.
Link to the in-progress article: https://vvsmodelling.com/2022/10/04/flyhawk-172-sbd-3-dauntless-build-article/
Special thanks to Mr.Paint for continuous support!
Company: Flyhawk Model / FH6001
Aftermarket: Brengun PE seatbelts
Paints used: Mr.Paint
Camouflage: MRP-133 Blue-Grey, MRP-134 Light Grey
Metallic surfaces: MRP-008 Duraluminium, MRP-147 Burnt Iron
Great model and a nice write-up. I didn’t know about the colors of the landing gear legs, they follow the section marking colors from the Yellow Wings era.
Thank you, Jeff! Research can be as much fun as model building itself, ain’t it? I have to admit, I have 0 knowledge of Yellow Wings era, but it makes sense they didn’t have to reinvent the wheel with the ID markings, so to speak.
I agree! Now I’ll have to check and see if other ships/squadrons were using the landing gear leg color trick!