This is the Hasegawa Douglas SBD-3 kit in 1/72 scale. The dive flaps are molded as solid pieces attached to the wing sections. There’s really no way to get a decent appearance using the kit flaps, so they were replaced with Quickboost resin. The cockpit is also resin, canopy sections are from Falcon.
The aircraft modeled is B-1 of VB-6 from the USS Enterprise (CV-6) during the Battle of Midway, 4 June 1942. The crew was Lieutenant Richard H. Best and Chief Radioman James F. Murray. This was one of only three SBDs which attacked Akagi, and Best was credited with scoring the only direct hit which led to her eventual loss. Best was also credited with a hit on Hiryu later in the day, one of only two pilots to have hit two Japanese carriers during the battle. Best was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during the battle.
Never Call Me a Hero: A Legendary American Dive-Bomber Pilot Remembers the Battle of Midway
by N. Jack “Dusty” Kleiss with Timothy and Laura Orr
Hardcover in dustjacket, 336 pages, illustrated
Published by William Morrow May 2017
Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
The history of war is filled with epic battles, with tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of men sometimes fighting for days. The outcomes often decide the fates of nations and alter the course of history. Surprisingly, the difference between victory or defeat often hinges on a single decision of a leader or the actions of a few men during a crucial moment. “Dusty” Kleiss was one such man who was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time with exactly the right skills to win an improbable victory for his nation.
LTJG Kleiss was a Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber pilot with Scouting Six flying from the USS Enterprise (CV-6). During the pivotal battle of Midway on 4 June 1942 approximately three hundred US aircraft from three aircraft carriers and Midway Island attacked the four Japanese carriers, dropping hundreds of bombs and torpedoes. Many crews were lost. In spite of all that effort and sacrifice, only thirteen bombs actually hit the Japanese carriers, all of them dropped by Dauntless pilots from the Yorktown and the Enterprise. “Dusty” Kleiss hit two of the carriers, first Kaga and then Hiryu in a later strike. On the 6th he also hit the damaged heavy cruiser Mikuma. All three Japanese ships were sunk. Another Enterprise SBD pilot, LT Dick Best of VB-6, scored hits on the carriers Akagi and Hiryu. Between them, Kleiss and Best were responsible for 30% of the hits on the Japanese carriers during the Battle of Midway.
Never Call Me a Hero is Kleiss’ story. While the Battle of Midway is the obvious focal point of the book, it also examines his early life and education, along with service in the surface fleet before flight school. He also details Enterprise’s participation in the raids against Japanese held islands prior to Midway which are every bit as interesting as the pivotal battle itself. A major subplot throughout is Kleiss’ courtship of Eunice “Jean” Mochon, whom he was to marry while on leave after Midway. An interesting insight into the times.
The list of interesting modeling subjects is long. Somewhere near the top of that list for me have always been modern submarines, particularly US Navy nuclear subs. My friend Michael Smith also shares this interest, but in his case he prefers his models to not only look nice but to operate as well. By good fortune I happened to have a set of Greg Sharpe’s excellent 688 class plans drawn to 1/72 scale. We decided to pool our resources and build two models, a static one for me and an RC version for Michael.