MPM 1/72 SB2U-3 Vindicator






3 aircraft: VMSB- 2, 131, 241


Les Dorr Jr




The Vought SB2U scout bomber was the Next Big Thing for the Navy when it entered service in 1937. It was the Navy's first low-wing monoplane with retractable landing gear and folding wings. The SB2U-1 and –2 versions flew from the decks of the Lexington, Ranger, Saratoga and Wasp. The SB2U-3 was a somewhat beefier, upgraded version manufactured for the Marine Corps, the only apparent physical difference being larger horizontal stabilizers. The –3 also was the first in the line to officially carry the name, "Vindicator."

But by the time the United States entered World War II, the SB2U was considered slow and obsolescent. In the aircraft’s only combat action, Marine Vindicators flying from Midway in June 1942 twice attacked the Japanese fleet, but they were ineffective; several were shot down by anti-aircraft fire and Zeros, or ditched due to battle damage.


The major parts of MPM’s Vindicator are molded on two sprues of light gray plastic. Panel lines are recessed, with petit rivet detail where appropriate. The fabric sections of the wings and fuselage are well represented, and the kit has the larger stabilizers characteristic of the SB2U-3. The upper and lower wing pieces have a slightly grainy texture that will probably disappear under a coat of paint. Cockpit detail is adequate for the scale, and includes the interior fuselage framing. Unlike recent MPM 1/72 offerings that feature a photoeteched instrument panel and photographic film for the gauges, the Vindicator kit uses simple injected parts for the panel. No crew figures or seatbelts are included.

Some detail parts such as the .50 cal. machine gun, tail hook and control sticks are nicely cast in a light tan resin. Detail on the Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp Jr. engine is excellent, but curiously, only the front row of cylinders is included in the casting. The delicate resin bomb cradle looks as if it will be a real bear to free from its base without breaking it. The injection-molded canopy is quite clear, and contains the center upper fuselage section between the pilot’s and gunner’s cockpits.

The 10-step instruction booklet has detailed assembly diagrams and 3-view painting and decal placement drawings. The Propagteam decals appear well printed; national insignia and white markings for two pre-war light gray aircraft and one blue/gray Midway defender are included. (Editor's note: sorry about the poor quality of the decal sheet image. Trying to show white on a light blue background is nearly impossible)

The Vindicator appears to be another fine addition to MPM’s growing line of between-the-wars aircraft. Although the kit represents the Marine SB2U-3, it doesn’t look like too much of a challenge for yellow-wing enthusiasts (like me!) to shorten the horizontal stabilizers and backdate the kit to a Navy –1 or –2.

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