Kits/accessories etc. to model RNZAF variants.
Notes by Dave Stewart, Peter Dingwall (1:72) and Peter Mossong (1:48 - 1:32)

Plans by Gwyn Avenell  (ADOBE .pdf format)


1:72: The kits that are or have been available in 1/72 scale range from HAWK/TESTORS, AOSHIMA and AIRFIX from 30 to 40+ years ago to the HASEGAWA kit from the late 1990’s.

HAWK/TESTORS (Testors kit No. 693): An SBD-3 (?) with markings for VS-37, Atlantic Fleet February ’44 and VS-2 (Ensign J.A. Leppla, yet again!). 

This kit is really showing its age, a 1 piece wing and no wheel wells. The markings are engraved into the fuselage, but not the wings (how will I know where to put the stars), the tail and rudder are slightly different sizes on the left and right fuselage halves. Cockpit detail consists of a pilot, a gunner, each on a plastic ‘bench’ and something that passes for a gun mount and two machine guns. There is a one-piece canopy that does not have a gunner’s section. My drawings show the fuselage to be about 1mm short and the wing to be correct in span, the tailplane is slightly too narrow. When built this kit still looks like an SBD. I have one, built many years ago by someone else. The RNZAF markings were apparently first hand painted on cigarette (Hey Editor can I mention that word?) paper and carefully glued on using clear varnish as an adhesive.

AOSHIMA (Series 12, Kit No 212-200): Another SBD-3 (?), the only decals are 4 ‘stars and bars’ markings and they appear to be rather undersize. 

This kit is really showing its age there are signs of mould damage and flow marks in the plastic. The wing is in 3 parts and the dive brakes/flaps are separate items, an improvement on the TESTORS kit (?). The cockpit detail consists, again, of pilot and gunner, plastic pegs to sit them on, a gun mount and two machine guns. There is a 3-piece canopy but no gunners section. The drawings I have show the fuselage again, about 1mm short and the wing seem to have the correct span and shape but the tailplane is even shorter and narrower than the TESTORS kit. The wheel wells appear to be too small and short (but they are there!) the main undercarriage is designed to fold into the wings.

AIRFIX (Series 2 Kit No. 02022): Now we are starting to get somewhere, an SBD-3/5. The markings are for VMSB-231, USMC, South Pacific, May ’44 and (tantara! yeh the home team) 25 Sqn. RNZAF, Auckland, December, ’43.                    

This kit was originally released in the 1960’s and has alternative parts for either an SBD-3 or –5. The standard Airfix WWII pilot/gunner figures are supplied, the legendary Airfix Riveter really had a ball here, at least rivets are easily removed. There is a cockpit floor and two bulkheads that together with the floor form seats for the pilot/gunner figures. The cockpit canopy is 3 piece and includes the gunners section. The tailplane scales out to be about 75mm under size, the fuselage and wings appear correct according to the drawings I have, the wings are 3 piece and the dive brakes/flaps are moulded in.

HASEGAWA (Series AP Kit No 51329): This has to be where it’s at! An SBD-3 (other releases cover –4 and -5 subtypes) There are markings for VS-2 (yes its that man Ensign Leppla again) and an “SBD-3 VS-41 US NAVY”.

This kit is nice (with a capital AAAHHH!). It was released about 1997 and as usual with HASEGAWA marketing has only parts for SBD-3. It is standard HASEGAWA; the cockpit has nicely done but basic detail, a floor, bulkheads, seats, control columns and instrument panels (which are decals, the decal sheet is about 20% larger than the AIRFIX sheet but has about twice the image area.). The cockpit canopy is 3 piece including the gunner’s section. The tailplane works out to be about 75mm undersize (about 1mm in 1/72nd scale). The fuselage and wings are correct according to the drawings I have although the wing tip profile varies slightly. The wings are 3 piece and the dive brakes/flaps are moulded wholly to the upper surfaces.


There are three ‘after market’ RNZAF Dauntless sheets that we are aware of, that are, or have been available.

HisAirDec RNZAF: This is a rather old sheet released in the 1960’s in a HisAirDec magazine (long since defunct). Markings for NZ5049, the roundel blue is far too light

Roodecal  RNZAF: I have not seen a full sheet, only the SBD markings. The colours are correct although you only get the basic markings, no serials etc.  

Aeromaster SP72-10: (Now out of print) Includes full markings for NZ5047, NZ5048, NZ5057 and NZ5060.


THE KITS: 1:48 

MONOGRAM (PA54-149 The original! 1959,  and various re-releases since): The granddaddy of 1:48 SBD kits - still reasonably accurate after all these years, but some compromises due to 'working features' such as opening dive brakes and bomb dropping mechanism. Includes 2 ground crew figures, and side screen.  

Moulded in dark blue and black plastic, has basic cockpit tub, and represents an early SBD-3 with a single rear .30 cal. With a lot of work (I know, I built and converted one to an SBD-5 several years ago) a good replica can be arrived at.

Hasegawa SBD-3 (JT19): A great disappointment when it was released as it has many inaccuracies in the fuselage and wing profiles. Much of the interior detail is spurious. The only bonus is the engraved panel lines, and the pneumatic tail wheel. The dive brake holes are just moulded impressions and need drilling out as with the Monogram kit, or replacement with any of the P.E.sets released on the market.

Decals cover three US navy aircraft from VS-2, VS-5 and VS-14.  My recommendation is to forget it!

Hasegawa SBD-4 (JT20?): Remarks above also apply. Had markings for NZ5034 but once again are the wrong colour, and has yellow surrounds to wing roundels!

Accurate Miniatures SBD-3 (ATE3411) and SBD-5 (ATE3412):   Saving the best for last, these are the only way to fly!!!  Absolutely brilliant - can be built from the box without extra detailing or aftermarket resin/P.E. required, but masochists like me will still try to 'Guild the lily'!  The only surprising omission is the lack of an alternative pneumatic tailwheel necessary to build RNZAF and Marines aircraft! (I purchased the Hasegawa kit just for the tailwheel, and gave the rest away!!!)

Markings are for two aircraft from the Coral Sea battles (SBD-3) and two from VB-16 (SBD-5) during the Tarawa landings.

Full interior detailing including the engine is supplied, and is very accurate.

With some cross kitting, all RNZAF versions can be built from these two kits. Note: From all reviews I have seen of these kits, careful reading of the instructions (yes Virginia, real modellers DO need instructions!!) will bear rewards.

Currently available as kit No's 480311(SBD-3) and 48012 (SBD-5) from Accurate Miniatures Mk.II. They have also issued an SBD-4 with RNZAF markings as kit No.480312. The blue of the roundels appears much too dark in examples I have seen.

ITALERI: Kit 2673. This is the same plastic as the Accurate Miniatures kit, but has RNZAF markings for NZ5060. The roundels are completely wrong, being that horrible light blue they also used for their TBF-1C, and the wing roundels have yellow borders!


MATCHBOX/REVELL (PK-503): For years this was the only kit of the Dauntless in 1:32 scale. The now venerable SDB-5 kit originally released by Matchbox in 1977. Has recently been re-released by Revell.

The Matchbox kit was moulded in three colours (as were most of their aircraft and armour kits) and is the proverbial 'Curates Egg'. Some inaccuracies in the outlines, and a basic interior need work to improve this kit. Fit of major components is also variable. Also missing is the pneumatic type tail wheel.

Decals include a US Marines aircraft of VMSB-231, a Free French A-24 from 1944, and Yea, as Dave stated in one of his reviews, the Home team, 25 (Dive Bomber) Squadron, RNZAF. This example is that of NZ5057, Squadron Leader DeLange's aircraft. The markings are accurate as well! especially the roundels.

Lots of work needed.


The Decals:

ROODECALS rnzaf wwii SET: Now long out of print, this set which covered the Avenger, Corsair and Dauntless, was a great boost to RNZAF modellers in the early '80s. The only point missing was the offset bar type of roundel, now rectified with the Aeromaster set.

AEROMASTER RNZAF IN WWII SET (SP48-10): ( Now out of print) Includes full markings for NZ5047, NZ5048, NZ5057 and NZ5060. I'm biased towards this set as I helped with the research.  Some problems have been noted regarding silvering and the thickness of the decals - appears not to have been printed by Microscale,  but by Cartograph in Italy. 

There are a couple of errors I made with my original drawings for the Aeromaster instructions for this set, so check with the artwork I have now corrected at this link.

SBD-5 Plans (Adobe .pdf format) Thanks to Gwyn Avenell

A) Dauntless Plan View

B) Dauntless Side and Front View

C) Dauntless Underside


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