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Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless

by Lynn Ritger


Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless
(3-)B-1, BuNo 4518
LCDR Maxwell Leslie, CO VB-3 and RM1c W.E. Gallagher
USS Yorktown, 4 June 1942

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Max Leslie had a problem. 

As the CO of VB-3, he was to lead the strike on the Kido Butai in a matter of minutes…but when he armed his bomb, an electrical fault released the weapon harmlessly into the sea below.  The same thing happened to several other aircraft in the squadron. 

Undeterred, Leslie led the squadron onward and was first to dive on the IJN Soryu, supplying suppressive machine gun fire in order to allow the boys behind him to do their job…and they did so in dramatic fashion, leaving Soryu a mass of flames from stem to stern. 



Upon returning to Yorktown, damage control efforts were underway and Leslie and his wingman, Lt.(jg) Paul Holmberg, were directed to ditch alongside the USS Astoria.  Holmberg went first, then Leslie; both executing textbook approaches and water landings.  Legend has it that Leslie didn’t even get wet- he merely stepped from his aircraft to the whaleboat sent from Astoria!





To recreate Leslie’s aircraft, I used the Hasegawa SBD-4 kit and applied extensive modifications, as follows:

  • Separated the lower flaps, drilled out all 316 holes, added bulkheads, stiffeners, and actuating rods.

  • Extensive detailing in both cockpits, including a mostly scratchbuilt gunner’s seat, accurized .30 cal gun assembly, various bits and bobs added according to references.



  • Separated tail control surfaces, repositioned stick and pedals to match.

  • Opened cowl flaps, added wires to engine.

  • Modified rear canopy to be posed open.

  • Reprofiled SBD-4 prop to –3 standard.

  • Bomb aimer’s window added.

  • Scratchbuilt seatbelts and buckles

  • Scratchbuilt oil cooler.

  • Drilled out guns, apertures, etc. where appropriate

  • Model Master paints used, pastels used for weathering




Additional Images


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Model and Text Copyright © 2003 by Lynn Ritger
Images Copyright © 2003 by Erick Whipple
Page Created 03 December, 2003
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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