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Decal review: Victory Production’s 1/48 scale SB2C Helldivers

Forum member Kevin Johnson (MIflyer) sent in this review of a veritable cornucopia, yea I say a plethora, of Helldiver decals. 🙂 You could build noting but Helldivers for a couple of years with this one set- great stuff, Kevin!

Victory Productions 1/48 scale SB2C Helldivers
For Accurate Miniatures SB2C-4
Product # VPD48009
Price: $22.95, from Victory Productions website
Contents: Two sheets of decals for 17 aircraft, four pages of documentation
Reviewed by: Kevin Johnson

It’s not often that Victory Productions introduces a new decal sheet, but it never fails to grab the attention of the modeling community when they do. Victory has gained a reputation for large, colorful, high-quality decal sheets, and their latest release is no exception. Fans of the “Big-Tailed Beast” who have had to make do without much in the way of aftermarket decals, will rejoice over this new sheet, which includes markings for no less than seventeen SB2C-4, -4E, and -5 aircraft in four different camouflage schemes.

Victory’s decal sheet focuses on late-war and post-war aircraft. These are late-model Helldivers, appropriate for use with the Monogram/Accurate Miniatures SB2C-4 kits. The SB2C-5s that appear on this decal sheet can be made with relatively minor alterations to the kit, and those changes are clearly outlined in the directions.

The aircraft included on the sheet are:

  • SB2C-4, VB-3, USS Yorktown, 1944/5
  • SB2C-4, VB-83, USS Essex, 1945, in tri-color camouflage
  • SB2C-4, VB-83, USS Essex, 1945, this one in overall Glossy Sea Blue
  • SB2C-4, VB-85, USS Shangri-La, 1945
  • SB2C-4E, VB-16, USS Randolph, 1945
  • SB2C-4E, VB-84, USS Bunker Hill, 1945
  • SB2C-4E, VB-88, USS Yorktown, 1945
  • SB2C-4E, from an unidentified unit in 1945, in two-tone gray-over-white Atlantic sub-hunting camouflage
  • SB2C-4, NAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, 1945, wearing bright Air/Sea Rescue colors
  • SB2C-5, VB-4, USS Tarawa, 1946
  • SB2C-5, VB-82, NAS Alameda, California, 1946
  • Three SB2C-4Es of VB-75, USS Roosevelt, 1946, sporting three colors of tail flashes: red, blue, and yellow
  • SB2C-5, VA-9A, USS Philippine Sea, 1948
  • SB2C-4E, Naval Reserve, NAS Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1947
  • SB2C-5, Naval Reserve, NAS Glenview, Illinois, 1948

As to the decals themselves, they are printed by Cartograf of Italy and are beautifully done. The colors are bright and in perfect register. The tiniest text is readable. The carrier film is the usual from Cartograf, quite thin, and it ought to respond well to the popular setting solutions. There are two letter-sized sheets, crammed full of markings. Fuselage bands, for those aircraft that need them, are not included on the sheet, but can be masked and painted on easily enough. Many of the aircraft carry the white graphic ID symbols standardized by the US Navy in early 1945, and these are provided on the sheet. These could also be masked and painted easily in several cases, depending on the builder’s preference.

More than enough “Navy” markings, aircraft type IDs, and digits for Bureau numbers are provided to build all the aircraft in the set. These are provided in black, white, and orange as appropriate. Enough national insignia are provided to build six aircraft: four WWII, and two in the post-war style. Simply by utilizing the wartime national insignia on the Accurate Miniatures kit decal sheet, you can build every single aircraft in this set.

The documentation accompanying the decals consists of two glossy letter-sized sheets, printed on both sides. Side profiles are provided for every aircraft, and views of the wing markings are provided for every aircraft save one. Plan views are provided for three aircraft, primarily as a paint, rather than marking, reference. Fuselage marking details are provided where appropriate. Colors are referenced by US Navy name and Federal Standard 595 color number.

Half a page of general information is included, as well as a short paragraph about each aircraft included in the set – well over a page of text in all. It’s a lot more documentation than you usually get with popular aftermarket decals, and it’s very helpful.

The directions do a good job of pointing out the detail differences of the aircraft – some have retractable tailhooks and some do not, some have the lower landing gear doors removed, some carry rocket launching rails, some carry Yagi radar antenna, and some carry AN/APS-4 radar pods beneath the starboard wing. Many of the aircraft on this sheet appear in the “Detail and Scale” and “In Action” series of reference books, and so far, scanning through those two publications, I can find no errors in Victory’s documentation or the decals.

At $22.95 USD, this sheet is expensive, but it represents excellent value for the money. With the addition of a few sets of national insignia, you can build every aircraft in this set. That comes out to about $1.35 per aircraft – well worth the asking price. The only aircraft not on this decal sheet that I would have loved to see is a Marine Corps Helldiver or two, but that’s just my own personal bias at work. This is a great decal sheet that will doubtless sell out quickly – get yours soon.

Kevin is a pilot living in southern Michigan, where he serves as a flight instructor in a college flight program.