Monogram 1/48 SB2C Helldiver




$7.00 in the mid 80's (1983 boxing reviewed)


One aircraft


Scott Van Aken


Do you like operating parts?`


The SB2C Helldiver, also called the Beast by its crew and those who maintained it, was to be a replacement for the SBD Dauntless. The plane was larger, heavier and able to carry a greater payload than the Dauntless. It was also fraught with problems. Many of the systems were hydraulic or electro-hydraulic and, being quite complex, gave nothing but troubles during development. These problems persisted in early service. It has been said that if the SB2C had entered service when it was supposed to (early 1942), and had been the major fleet dive bomber of the early war, that it is quite possible that lack of serviceability would have caused early actions (like Guadalcanal), to be much more in favor of the Japanese than happened. Thankfully, the SBD was reliable and able to go on the various missions that sank a great deal of Japanese shipping during the early war years.

Even when its many troubles were over, the SB2C was not well liked. It wasn't the most stable plane as compared to the Dauntless and took a lot of effort to fly. Despite that, the plane did well in the later years and eventually ended the war as the plane it should have been several years earlier. During the great draw-down of the military after the war, the Helldiver was one of the first to hit the bone yards and scrap heaps in the great aeronautical melt-down of the late 1940's. By the start of the Korean war, very few were still around.


  Ya gotta love old Monogram kits. During the days when these were developed, the buzz-word was 'operating features'. True to form, this particular kit has them. You have your operating landing gear, your bomb bay that opens and closes, a bomb you can 'drop' from it with actuating mechanism (in fact, the bomb has a slot molded in each side to allow it to slip out of the hook), your sliding canopies and your ever popular folding wings. I do believe that this kit is the pinnacle of operating features for Monogram as I can't think of another one that does so much!

To help us paint it, it is molded in dark blue with a tree of black parts like wheels and prop and rockets. Though detailing is of the raised and rivet variety, it actually is quite good. Before the ProModeler kit came around, I had seen this kit (with some modifications), made into a real beauty! Despite its age, the mold is fresh and pretty free from any flash. Ejector pin marks are a bit of a problem, but all kits had them back in those days.

Instructions are quite good, as it typical of Monogram models, giving clear instructions. There is but one decal option and that is for a three color Beast from an unknown unit, though it does appear by the numbering and the name to be a USMC bird. Monogram decals of that era were well known to be totally horrible. Not only were the decals thick and glossy, but had trouble sticking, were not responsive to any setting solution, and generally left a whitish glue residue when dry. Thankfully, all of that has changed. There are also a lot of aftermarket decals for the kit. I'll leave it to the experts to figure out what variant the kit is, though it could be a -5.

Anyway if you want a trip down memory lane, are looking for an easy kit for a youngster to build or just want one with lots of operating features, this is the one for you.

Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly by a site that averages thousands of  visits a day, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.