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1/48 SB2C Helldiver--Attack on Yokosuka and IJN Battleship Nagato, 18 July 1945

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Posted (edited)

Well, have had this scene percolating in the ol' noggin for sometime.  Wanted to do the new 1/32 Helldiver, but it seemed a bit big for what I had in mind. 

First a bit of background: I love the Beast.  Some of my earliest memories are sitting on a fencepost at our ranch listening to my father and the crop duster that sprayed the Alfalfa fields chatting. He'd learned to fly for the Navy and flew Helldivers in the Pacific.  From about age 4 on, I knew what I was going to do! I've always had a Hellidver model sitting on display to remind me of that--unfortunately the last one didn't survive the final move and needed replacing. The other piece of the puzzle is Yokosuka.  I spent a large portion of my career there.  2 different ships I served on were berthed on the very piers I'm  depicting. Kind of fascinating to have been stationed there and know the long history of it.  The dry docks date back to the 1800s and are still there and still in use!  If you watch "Bridges at Toko Ri" you can see what had been the IJN Headquarters, which is now the US Commander, Naval Forces Japan Headquarters.

Here's a screen capture from Google Maps: 



And zoomed in a bit.




Here's a picture from July 1945.  I blew it up to match the size of a 1/1800 Nagato that I ordered off Shapeways. Once sized correctly I could start laying out the base.



As for the scene, I'm choosing to do a large strike flown by the USN on 18 July 1945.  At that point, TF-38 was sailing up and down the coast of Japan at will.  There's several great write ups about the giant fleet raids that occurred during July 1945--Yokosuka and the fleet anchorage at Kure. ADM Halsey really wanted to sink the last of the Combined Fleet and really wanted to sink Nagato as that was ADM Yamamoto's flagship during the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Here's some great stories:

H-053-1: The End of the Imperial Japanese Navy



Here's a great picture taken during the raid. I can't even imagine what a strike with 100 Dive bombers looked like, but that's a lot of airplanes (not even counting escorting Hellcats and Avengers) in a small piece of sky.




Here's the Nagato that I had 3D printed.



And here's the scene.  Sorry, haven't taken any build pics other than this one. Frankly the SB2C build has been rather unremarkable. I've been using @chukw's fantastic Helldiver build log to walk me through some of the finer points. But with the gear up and crew in the cockpit, most detail is hidden.  You can see I cut out the brake area--just finished assembling the Eduard PE versions. Still debating how to display it though, as I've read accounts that on this mission they dove with them closed to increase their speed.  It does look cooler with them open though, so may go that route...



So that's where the buid is at.  A mostly OOB Helldiver and a bunch of small buildings that I'm slowly recreating.


Edited by easixpedro
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6 hours ago, chukw said:

That's really cool, Peter! Thanks for the plug, too. ;)

Thanks! And the least I could do. Your Helldiver is still my all time favorite build from all the different forums over the years. I remember coming home from Afghanistan and sitting down with my dad to show him your progress as we chatted through the night. Good stuff!


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10 hours ago, Uncarina said:

Definitely the road less travelled! I love the original approach you apply to your builds, and the results are epic. Looking forward to seeing more!


Cheers,  Tom

Thanks Tom, appreciate it.  I don't know where I developed this penchant for dynamic in-flight scenes, but I just can't stop!  I get an idea in the ol' noggin and boom, we're off to the races.


Maybe because I'm still like a little kid and at this point in the build, I've taken that Helldiver on multiple laps around the room making noises and passes at imaginary targets :)  Helps build the scene in my mind I guess (or at least that's my story!)


I should really work on my LSP B-24 next, but have had a similar idea for a forced perspective "12 O'clock High" scene with a German fighter and a B-17/B-24.  Too many ideas and not enough time!


More soon, and thanks for the comments!


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Not much to report.  Managed to paint the Nagato. That was tedious...tip of the hat to ship modelers. That thing was tiny!


Took a break from making buildings for the port facilities (...another tedious task), to knock out some things on the Beast. Not much, but a few things like the turtleback. 








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Thanks Tom.


I just noticed the photos don't look too good and aren't in focus.  I was rushing to post something as I was done to single digit battery on the ol' phone last night.  Will get some better pics up soon.  You'll also note that I chopped out the cowl flaps to close 'em.  Also closed the oil cooler door.  Those aren't normally open in flight (or only during slower speed flight).  The turtleback took a few tries to get right, but pretty pleased with how it's looking.


Markings will be from VB-16 on USS Randolph. Will do either #1 or #9.  Somewhere I've seen pics of #9 as she was shot down a week later over the fleet anchorage at Kure on the Inland Sea.  She eventually washed ashore in late 45-46 (if I'm remembering the details correctly).  Will see if I can find the pictures and post them too.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Managed to get some color down two nights ago--didn't feel like making buildings or working on the B-24.  Making incremental progress I guess. Have some tape residue on the clear bits to clean up, but otherwise happy with how she looks.



I was going to cut out the control surfaces, but the key for a divebomber pilot actually hitting his target was to have the a/c perfectly trimmed and no inputs in the controls (i.e. neutral). With that in mind, I left them as is. 



Here she's just sitting on the rod. Actual dive angle will be steeper.  Will also leave off the bomb assembling till right before mounting the aircraft. She sits perfectly on the bomb bay doors so I can work on her.



Next up I have to figure out the gigantic cranes. I'll post some pics--each one had its own name.  Also need to keep making buildings...


More soon


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Inching closer to wrapping up the Beast. Finished the gunner at his .30s and got the canopies on. Also started decals - just using the kit ones. The 9 actually came from the Airfix 1/24th F6F Hellcat. Perfectly sized for the Randolph's markings. Added a drop tank from the spares bin (believe it's from the Airfix Mustang kit).








Have a decision to make with this display.  It looks OK right now, but frankly is not quite how I wanted it to look. Problem being that I'd enlarged the base scene to fit the dry docks.  Leads to a LOT of open space on essentially one half of the display. Am thinking of trimming it down significantly. Of course that gets rid of all the buildings I've already built...  In the end, I think that's the right decision, but need to find/make a suitable base before going much further.  Had toyed with just doing a wood block and only displaying the Helldiver, but really want the whole scene.  More after I make that decision.

Thanks for following along!


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1 hour ago, Oldbaldguy said:

You could always put a smaller scale airplane maneuvering in the open space to fill it in some.  I’m pretty sure this guy wasn’t all by himself at the time.

Funny thing. My son and I were just having this conversation last night. He's studying to be an architect and we've been trading jokes about my inability to make little white buildings!  He was giving me some ideas to either make a smaller base or redo the base with a better orientation.  But I do like your idea--as I pointed out to him, there were 600 airplanes involved in this raid! 100 of them were Helldivers.  That's a lot of airplanes in a small piece of sky--makes me shudder to think about it.  Will have to think about it--maybe some 1/700th or 1/350th?  I know that Avengers were bombing the AAA sites on the hills and Hellcats were generally running amuck (as fighters tend to do) some were doing rocket attacks on ships and others just strafing things. 


Just thinking about it makes my aviator head hurt--frag patterns and bombs raining down through your altitudes etc.  I cant remember how many a/c were lost, but it was less than 20 (seems like a small number considering the defenses and numbers involved).  


Bottom line, still thinking about it, but really appreciate your input!  One of the reasons I love this forum.


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