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Progress Build of Merit's 1/18 SBD-3 Dauntless (Coral Sea)


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#1 Phillip1

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 03:58 PM

Fellow Modelers,

I am starting this thread to share the building process of my current model project, Merit’s 1/18 scale SBD-3 Douglas “Dauntless” (famed U.S. Navy WWII dive-bomber). This is a brand new kit from a new model company. I do not believe this model is an up scaled duplicate of Trumpeter’s 1/32 scale SBD-3, but they are similar. I could be wrong, but from what I have read Merit and Trumpeter are two separate companies, although they do have a business relationship with each other. It appears Merit created their own kit design, but then contracted Trumpeter to do the manufacturing and packaging. That is why everything about the kit looks so much like Trumpeter. The kit is based on Merit’s “pre-built/pre-painted” SBD-3 display model that they have been selling for the last couple of years. That display model has many working features (i.e. spring loaded landing gear, moveable canopies/guns/wheels/flaps, etc.). They just transformed the display model into an injection plastic model you can build, that still includes the working features. Getting around the “working features” will create some challenges, but make no mistake-Merit has produced is an excellent plastic model (even for this large scale). This kit is in no way comparable to the 1/18 scale plastic model kits that Pegasus is producing. I bought their Bell X-1 aircraft, and promptly sold it on e-bay because it was a very plain, poorly made “toy”.
The detail and accuracy of Merit’s SBD-3 (in the box) is incredible, but it is not a perfect kit. As I build it I will highlight the good, the bad and the ugly. I will be as honest as possible, but I am a huge SBD fan, so Merit already has brownie points for making this. The kit is molded in light gray/clear and has about 325 parts. It was packed very well, with multiple mini-boxes to protect the more fragile parts. It includes metal screws (to help attach the main sub-assemblies), metal pins (for the movable connections) and metal hinges (for the movable wing dive flaps). The two main tires are black vinyl plastic. It includes parts for both a single and double .30 caliber machine gun(s) for the radio operator. It does not include any photo-etch parts or seatbelts. The kit includes decal options for two aircraft (listed below):
>SBD-3 of VS-2 (U.S.S. Lexington-May 1942)
>SBD-4 of VC-22 (U.S.S. Independence-1943)
My goal with this project is to only make minor modifications and additions. I just want to be able to enhance what is provided in the box, and hopefully help any other “Dauntless” fans that may consider building this kit. The main book reference I am using is the excellent SBD Dauntless in detail & scale by Bert Kinzey. Enough small “talk”…let the building begin.

1st Image: The excellent box art is shown.
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2nd Image: The kit’s Painting and Marking Guide is shown. This has several errors, but shows the plane I am building.
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3rd through 4th Image: White “12” (S/N 4547) was part of the first batch of SBD-3’s ordered by the U.S. Navy in 1940, and 29th off the assembly line at the El Segundo, CA plant. It was eventually assigned to VS-2 (U.S.S. Lexington) and nominally assigned to Ensign John Leppla. He was awarded the Navy Cross for participating in a bombing raid against Japanese shipping at Lae and Salamaua, New Guinea on March 10, 1942. He was awarded a Gold Star (in lieu of a second Navy Cross) for participating in bombing attacks against a Japanese aircraft carrier at The Battle of the Coral Sea on May 7, and shooting down two Japanese “Kate” torpedo bombers while performing CAP duties for his task force on May 8, 1942. During The Battle of the Coral Sea he was credited with shooting down a total of four aircraft, and is considered one of the most aggressive pilots to ever fly a “Dauntless”. After Coral Sea he transferred to VF-10 (U.S.S. Enterprise/CV-6) to fly Grumman F4F-4 “Wildcat” fighters. He was killed in air combat during The Battle of Santa Cruz on October 26, 1942, although he was credited with the destruction of a “Zero” fighter during that mission. The first photo shows the only image of White “12” I have been able to find, and the second shows Ensign Leppla with his Coral Sea rear gunner ARM3c John Liska.
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5th through 8th Image: Did I mention the model is big? Boy is it big. It is about two inches longer in wingspan and fuselage length than Monogram’s 1/48 B-17G kit! Sometimes photos do not communicate how big an object is, so I am showing a few parts beside a ruler and in my “average size” hand.
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9th through 10th Image: These images show another perspective on size. The kit parts are set beside a Monogram 1/48 SBD-3 Dauntless (built long before Hasegawa or Accurate Miniatures were options).
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continued...
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#2 Phillip1

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 04:00 PM

11th Image: The next few photos show some modifications I made to the kit parts. This photo shows the outer wing bomb racks. The parts are accurate in shape, but way too thick (but I will live with the thickness). The improvement I made was to remove the poorly formed bomb sway braces, and electrical connection at the end of the rack. These will be replaced later by thin styrene and small diameter wire. The part on the right is out of the box and the part on the left has been cut.
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12th Image: The rear machine gun support ring was improved by drilling out all of the dimpled holes.
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13th Image: The cockpit assembly is a tub design that has complete sidewalls. This is the left sidewall. The equipment layout is very complete and accurate, but unfortunately all of the knobs and levers are molded to the wall. They looked really bad so I cut them off. I used a small piece of thin styrene to cover some damage I did while sawing some of them off.
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14th through 15th Image: The pilot’s instrument panel is very well detailed, but does not provide recessed openings for the individual dials (disappointing). I had to drill out several different size holes using the kit decal as a guide. Merit should have included this feature. However, I will say instrument dial decals are outstanding in clarity and accuracy.
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16th through 17th Image: A low point of the model is the hinged rear gun doors that can be opened and closed. To include this feature, the fuselage halves have huge slots that are not accurate and look horrible. I used styrene/superglue to fill these gaps.
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My total time to clean up and test fit all of the kit parts was about 30 hours. Until next time…

Phillip1
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#3 Loic

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 06:21 PM

:popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:


Cheers!________________________________________________________________________________________________________
In the work :   Dornier Do 335   /   A-1H/J Skyraider   /   Mirage F1 (Scratchbuild)  /  Mirage IIIC

Completed builds :   Hawker Tempest (kitbash)   /   Nakajima B5N Kate (Scratchbuild)   /   Spitfire Mk I

Master pattern work:   DB-603 Engine    /   F4U-1 Corsair engine bay 


#4 harvey

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 06:30 PM

This should be fun !!.....Harv

There's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can't get away
working on:  Tamiya F4U-2 Night Fighter
Trump P-38M BACK ON BENCH FINISHED!!!
 


#5 LSP_Kevin

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 09:38 PM

What an awesome project Phillip!

 

This should be fun !!.....Harv

 

Indeed Harv!

 

Kev



#6 Ironwing

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 09:57 PM

Phillip,

You're off to a great start. We need more 18nth scale stuff in here. Please continue to post. Really looking forward to your build progress. I just love these big birds.

Cheers

Geoff

Edited by Ironwing, 08 March 2014 - 10:01 PM.

" We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard...
John Kennedy

#7 Phillip1

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 11:11 PM

Fellow Modelers-This post deals with painting and assembling the cockpit.

1st Image: The floor is shown after being painted Zinc Chromate Green. Almost everything in the cockpit of the early war Douglas SBDs was covered with a Zinc Chromate Green coating. The nice floor detail can be seen in this photo.
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2nd through 3rd Image: Next, comes weathering and highlighting. I use this same method for every cockpit I build. First, dark gray pastel powder is applied in all the recessed areas. Next, most of the pastel powder is brushed away, leaving only a subtle trace. Finally, Model Master Dark Ghost Gray is dry-brushed on all the raised details and sharp edges.
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4th Image: Paint wear in the common foothold areas was created a by dry-brushing Model Master Aluminum with a short bristle brush.
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5th through 6th Image: A few more parts are added to the floor. Note the radio operator’s flight control stick was removed from the base and put in its storage position to the side. However, it was common for the radio operator to fly the plane (on long flights) while the pilot concentrated on other tasks.
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7th through 8th Image: These photos show the pilot seat bulkhead and radio operator rear bulkhead in place. The rear bulkhead includes a storage tunnel for the radio operator’s machine gun.
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9th through 10th Image: The pilot instrument panel is shown, painted and with the decal dials added. The dials had to be cut into individual pieces before being glued into placed. I got a couple of them in the wrong location, but only an extremely hardcore SBD fan would notice (ha!). The kit decals have a high gloss finish, so each dial looks like it has a glass cover, which looks really good.
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#8 Phillip1

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 11:13 PM


11th Image: As stated earlier, the kit does not include any provisions for seatbelts. I did not want bare seats, so I decided to make some very simplified seatbelts using parts from a 1/24 scale Waldron Seatbelt Buckle Set and white painted masking tape strips. Before anyone starts throwing stones, I realize what I made is really not accurate, but I wanted a quick solution (within my skill level), and decided I could live with this.
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continued...

12th Image: The pilot seat and instrument panel are shown after being added to the floor assembly.
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13th Image: Here is an overall view of the completed cockpit floor assembly. Until next time…
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14th Image: Here is the photo of Leppla left off the first post.
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Until next time...

Phillip1
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#9 LSP_Kevin

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 11:15 PM

Awesome!

 

Kev



#10 Ironwing

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 11:23 PM

Phillip

This is looking really sweet. Remarkably neat and crisp work.

Best

Geoff

Edited by Ironwing, 22 March 2014 - 11:24 PM.

" We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard...
John Kennedy

#11 LSP_Ron

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 12:19 AM

Awsomely big too!


Ron

 

 

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

Douglas Adams

When I die, I'll be on time

 

 


#12 sharkmouth

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 03:37 AM

Since I just got the Merit International M198 Howitzer (1/16th scale) kit to review, I am following along.

 

However, one correction.  Merit International has been selling Witty Wings and pre-built models under their label which come from Wasan Plastics, the parent company of many brands including Trumpeter and Hobby Boss.  These kits are from Trumpeter's research and development (with assistance from Merit).  So, Merit's agreement is with their long time business partner Wasan Plastics who took away several previously announced kits from Trumpeter and Hobby Boss to offer them to Merit.

 

Regards,


Saúl García
animated_shark.gif


#13 LSP_Kevin

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 03:44 AM

Since I just got the Merit International M198 Howitzer (1/16th scale) kit to review, I am following along.

 

However, one correction.  Merit International has been selling Witty Wings and pre-built models under their label which come from Wasan Plastics, the parent company of many brands including Trumpeter and Hobby Boss.  These kits are from Trumpeter's research and development (with assistance from Merit).  So, Merit's agreement is with their long time business partner Wasan Plastics who took away several previously announced kits from Trumpeter and Hobby Boss to offer them to Merit.

 

Regards,

 

Very interesting information Saúl!

 

Kev



#14 Uncarina

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 03:54 AM

Philip1,

How did I miss this! Thank you so much for putting this professional grade how-to on building the SBD. Your photography, depth of information, and overall clarity is fantastic. Thanks for taking the time to share this!

Sincerely, Tom

#15 Phillip1

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 03:56 PM

Uncarina, LSP_Kevin, Sharkmouth, LSP_Ron, Ironwing, Harvey, Loic-Thanks for the compliments and interest.

Sharkmouth-Thank you for the clarification on the relationship between Merit and Trumpeter. I have read so many wide ranging comments about these two companies that it is hard to know what is correct. I would like to ask you something. I recently purchased Merit's 1/200 U.S.S. Hornet (CV-8), which is a beautiful and impressive kit. Did Merit do the design work on this? I understand Trumpeter is releasing a 1/200 U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6/1944) later this year. I have even seen where at least one company is taking pre-orders on this kit. Anything you know about this would be appreciated.

Thanks

Phillip1




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