Dive Bombers
Blackburn Skua – Loire-Nieuport LN411 – Curtiss SB2C

I was thinking about dive bombers the other day and went to look for them in the gallery of bomber and patrol aircraft. To my surprise I couldn’t find there some that I definitely remembered had been added to the collection. After a while I realized that they might be in the gallery of attack and strike aircraft because you can think of them in that way too, and there they were. Obviously I’m going to have to sort out this little discrepancy.

In the meantime, here are three dive bombers you can currently find in the collection. Conspicuous by its absence if the famous Junkers Ju87 ‘Stuka’ but we don’t have one in the collection as yet. The Ju87, like most dive bombers, was good at delivering its bombs onto a target accurately but, also like most dive bombers, proved very vulnerable to enemy fighters and served most of the war in other roles in which it was less vulnerable.

Loire Nieuport LN411 in 1/72 by Azur
The French worked away at a dive bomber during the 1930s which eventuated in the LN401 developed for the navy and the LN411 for the Armee de l’air. They were virtually the same aircraft with much of the navel equipment left off the LN411. As it turned out the army rejected its LN411s and they were sent to the navy anyhow. They suffered terribly during the Battle of France and were withdrawn from service after the Armistice following France’s defeat.

Scalemates tells us that there was a resin kit made of this aircraft but, apart from that, your only option is the Azur kit that was first published in 1998. Like many of the early short run injection moulded kits that emerged from Eastern Europe in the 1990s this kit is not easy to assemble. It is, however, fairly accurate. The instructions don’t help either and leave the builder confused about what to do on some points. Since this was not a well known aircraft there is not much information about it on the interweb so you are on your own when it comes to deciding what might be the best of most accurate way in which to proceed. Good luck!

Vultee Vengeance I in 1/72 by Special Hobby
The Vultee Vengeance was designed in the United States but ordered for production by the British and French governments, who were desperate for dive bombers, before the prototype had flown. However it suffered from the same vulnerability as other dive bombers and was relegated to secondary roles. The Vengeance was less vulnerable in the South West Pacific Area where there was virtually no Japanese air opposition by the end of 1943 so many were sent to the Royal Australian Air Force where they were used in their primary role for a short period. However it was soon realized that the P-40s that were escorting and protecting them could carry the same bomb load, making the Vengeances redundant. Consequently they spend the rest of the war in secondary roles.

For many years the only kit of the Vengeance was the old Frog kit which was subsequently republished in many different boxes by different companies. Whatever you do, don’t buy one. It was first published in 1970 and was not a good kit then. More Recently Special Hobby have published their version which was used to make this model. It was quite an enjoyable modelling experience. There is a good build review of this kit on the Modelling Madness website that agrees with my assessment. However I see that Dora Wings is planning to publish their version, so it might be worth waiting too see how good this new version is.

Curtiss SB2C-4 in 1/72 by Academy
The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver was probably the most successful of all dive bombers. This might have been because it flew off US Navy aircraft carriers during a period when the Navy’s F6F Hellcats were clearing the way for the Helldiver to attack with minimal interference from enemy fighters. The result was that the SB2C had sunk more enemy shipping than any other allied aircraft by the end of the war.

This model was made from the Academy 1/72 kit which is generally reckoned to be the best kit of this aircraft in this scale. I thoroughly enjoyed building this kit and would recommend it to anyone. The review of this kit that was published by IPMS USA agrees. The build is made more pleasant by the all over Dark Sea Blue colour scheme flown by SB2Cs in the final years of the war which sets off the white decals in this kit very nicely.