Special Hobby 1/72 SB2U-1/2






Two Aircraft


Scott Van Aken


Includes resin parts


It is understandable that in the years just before WWII, the Navies of the world that had carrier aircraft would tend to be a bit more conservative than their Army compatriots. The design of Naval aircraft have to take into consideration factors that just are not required for land-based aircraft. Navy planes have to have a slow landing speed in order to alight on a ship. They also need stronger than normal landing gear to handle the pounding. Finally, having folding wings is needed in many cases to allow for more aircraft to be carried onboard the ships.

When it came to bombers, Naval bombers were generally biplanes; as much for slow landing speed as anything else. Naval bombing basically meant dive bombing. It is by far the best way of attacking a moving target such as a ship as it offers much greater precision. This precision is obtained by having the plane get quite close to the enemy ship before releasing its bomb. Stresses of pullout are high, again, requiring a sturdy aircraft.

In mid 1934, Vought offered the US Navy a design for a monoplane bomber. This was the XSB2U, an aircraft that could carry a 1,000 lb bomb and had folding wings for carrier stowage. In addition to being Vought's first monoplane, it was the first USN carrier-borne plane to have retractable landing gear.

Vought had an excellent relationship with the Navy and an order for 54 SB2U-1 aircraft was placed in 1936. This was followed by similar-sized orders for the SB2U-2 and SB2U-3. Each following aircraft improved on the previous one in terms of armor plating, armament and engine power. All of the SB2U-1/2 versions were delivered to the Navy and served on the various carriers as the standard bomber until replaced by the SBD Dauntless.

Those Vindicators that saw action during the opening days of the Pacific war were SB2U-3 versions, the entire lot of which were ordered for the Marines. These planes quickly showed that, through crew inexperience as much as anything, they were not able to withstand modern warfare and were decimated by the defending Japanese. The SB2Us were quickly withdrawn from front line service and sent to training commands where they provided yeoman service until withdrawn in 1943.


The Vindicator is one of those planes that has long been sought as a kit by hobbyists. There have been a few previous attempts at providing kits of the plane in 1/72 over the years. Most of them have been VERY short run injected kits. The best was the Rareplanes vac kit, but most modelers will not touch a vacformed kit. MPM did an SB2U-3 a few years back. A year or so ago, Azur released the V-156 version of this aircraft. It was well received, but could not be built as a US version. What was really wanted was the bright, colorful Navy ones. Special Hobby has now done just that.

It appears that some of this kit is the same as the Azur release. Not  that I'm positive, but the kits two sprues are different colors of plastic so it would make sense to use what is common between the two. As you may know, Azur and Special Hobby are all part of the MPM organization and molded in the same place. Parts are well molded with fine engraved detailing that one expects from Special Hobby. Ejector pin marks/towers are limited to the inside of the larger pieces and there is a touch of flash on some of the pieces.

The kit includes a very well molded and clear injected one-piece canopy.   There is also a small bag of resin bits. These include the engine, small bombs, center bomb 'rack', and a number of thin bits like pitot tube, control column and such.

Interior detail is quite nice with a full cockpit that includes the full framework. After all the pieces are attached to this subassembly, it will look properly 'busy'. Actually, that is probably the most difficult portion of the kit. The rest is al very straight-forward with no real surprises or difficult-looking construction. There is no wheel well detail or sidewalls so those that want that will have to add it.

The instruction sheet is quite good with several construction steps in the usual fashion for Special Hobby. Color callouts are in Humbrol paints with FS 595 references given where needed. The decal sheet is excellent and in register. There are two schemes given, both of them the wonderful 'yellow wings' colors of the 30's. The first one is the box art aircraft of the commander of the air wing from the USS Yorktown, with its red tail and broad red commander's stripe on the fuselage. The other is a white-tailed SB2U-1 from the USS Saratoga. A bit of research will undoubtedly turn up other options should you wish to do something not offered with the kit.



If you have wanted a 'yellow wing' SB2U to add to your collection, then this is the one. It is still a bit of short run so that you'll have to do some careful construction, but close enough to a 'mainstream' injected kit that it will be a fun build. In fact, if you've never done a multi-media kit of this sort, this would be a great one to start with. I fully plan to add this one to the 'yellow wing' Wildcat and TBD that grace my 1/72 USN shelf.

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