The SBD-3 Dauntless is done.
I’ll admit, I’ve had more enjoyable builds, and I’m ready to have this one off the bench. Overall, it’s a really solid kit, but between the over-engineered cockpit that you can’t even see and several frustrating fit tolerances toward the very end, I can’t call it a phenomenal kit. Still, it gave me a chance to experiment with several new techniques and taught me a ton of lessons about what I’m doing right – and what I’m doing wrong.
Finishing this kit was definitely a slog. First because of the aforementioned fit tolerances. These included several clear pieces that were a millimeter or so too wide – enough to ensure that they didn’t fit. Most of these were filed down until I could shove them into place. One tiny piece was too small to even hold in such a way as to file it, and ended up vanishing into the garage floor.
Mounting pins also proved troublesome, both on the propeller shaft and on the landing gear. In each case they had to be trimmed back in order to properly seat the tires and prop…though pulling the prop to address this problem resulted in ripping the crankcase and ignition wires off the engine. Oops.
Lastly, the canopy fit proved to be atrocious. The windscreen doesn’t line up with the lines of the aircraft, and clearly isn’t supposed to, except in real life. Accurate Miniatures even added little tabs to their one-piece canopy to address this, but did nothing for the “leave it open” configuration. Then there’s the stacked canopies, which…don’t stack properly. I ended up having to bust out the file and shave as much as I could from the interior frames.
On top of these fit tolerances, I also ran into several self-made headaches. Like dripping cyanoacrylate adhesive on the horizontal stabilizer while attaching the dive flaps. Or having a poorly formulated flat finish spit white flecks all over the plane, necessitating a very careful wet sanding of all of the upper surfaces.
Still, a lot went right. The pre- and post-shading techniques worked like a charm and created a very worn-looking Dauntless. The Vallejo acrylics sprayed like a dream, and the textured Rustoleum provided just the grit I was looking for for the no-slip walkways.
All in all, I’m pleased with the effort, even if a few things didn’t go as planned.