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V-156F Vindicator ‘Aéronavale Service’ (SH48213) 1:48


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V-156F Vindicator ‘Aéronavale Service’ (SH48213)

1:48 Special Hobby




The Vindicator’s original designation in US service was SB2U, and it served with the US Navy until the battle of Midway, latterly as trainers, despite having its beginnings in the mid-30s as a scout bomber that reached its peak by the outbreak of WWII in 1939.  The French ordered 40 to serve on one of their carriers, but it was mothballed as out-dated when the war began, so the aircraft had to serve from ground locations, fighting against the Italians and even providing air cover for the Dunkirk evacuation.  The remainder were so few that they were phased out after the French surrendered.  The British Fleet Air Arm took over the pending French order for an additional 50 airframes after capitulation, and in FAA service they were known as the Chesapeake.


In US service, a number were destroyed on the ground during the Pearl Harbour attack by the Japanese that drew America into WWII, with most of the low number of airframes produced eventually being replaced by the more capable SBD Dauntless in front-line service.



The Kit

This a Special Hobby reboxing of the 2005 Accurate Miniatures kit that has also been seen in an Azur and Academy boxes over the years, but this boxing has been augmented by the inclusion of resin and Photo-Etch (PE) details, plus a new set of wings and decals that make a more unique product.  It arrives in a standard Special Hobby top-opening box, with four sprues in grey styrene (the wings are a different grey), two sprues of clear parts, a bag of resin, a fret of PE, a clear slip of acetate with the instrument panels printed in black, plus the instruction booklet that is printed in colour on glossy white paper.  The wings stand out as more modern and are moulded in SH’s style, having a more matt finish and plenty of raised and engraved detail over the surface.  The Accurate Miniatures plastic that has been moulded for them by Academy, also has plenty of detail, including the ribbed surface of the fuselage, sagged and round tyres, and plenty of interior detail.












The Vindicator’s cockpit is a long slot with a deck separating the two seats, which is where construction begins.  The front cockpit is assembled on a short floor at the front of the raised deck, with the internal steel framing of the fuselage and instruments/controls depicted as fine parts that attach to the sides, joined by the seat with PE belts, a tie-down web for the dinghy pack and small control parts in PE, which take up a substantial number of parts. The rear cockpit has a longer floor and is built up in a similar way with fuselage framework supporting controls and accessories, with a rear bulkhead and gun mount that has fine PE parts, then the seat with PE lap belts and furniture.  Before they are installed in the fuselage, the multi-layer instrument panel is made up from a styrene rear, acetate mid-layer and PE front detail parts in two stepped sections that fit to the front of the fuselage framework along with some more tiny parts and a frame over the rear of the gunner’s position.  The fuselage can then be closed up around the sub-assemblies, the tailwheel and a small bulkhead forward of the tail, with some interior painting and some ejector-pin marks that may need filling.  Under the rear fuselage is an insert with more ribbing, which has a slot in the back to accommodate the resin arrestor-hook.


The new wings are full-width on the underside, and have their upper sections added, checking whether any of the internal ejector-turrets need cutting back before you apply the glue. The elevators have moulded in flying surfaces, and are each made from top and bottom surfaces.  Before these assemblies are added to the fuselage, the engine and its cowling must be made up, beginning with the cowling flaps in open or closed position, onto which the engine mount is fixed.  The radial engine is represented with both banks of pistons and a bell-housing with push-rods and some oversized wiring harness moulded-in.  You can cut the wiring loom out and replace them with something more in scale if you feel the urge.  The cowling is made from two curved panels that are joined into a cylinder and have internal parts added to the intake, then the lip is fitted over the engine to (almost) complete the fuselage.  The wings are then inserted into the gap in the upper wing and glued in place along with the elevators.




Flipping the airframe over, the landing gear is made up mostly from styrene parts with the assistance of a few small resin parts, and a choice of either round of slightly flattened smooth treaded tyres on two-part hubs on the main wheels.  Separate oleo-scissors, bay doors and retraction mechanisms are included, or you could use the round tyres and hubs with extra parts for the combined leg and doors to portray the aircraft in the wheels-up pose.  The Vindicator used spoilers to provide the impetus to dive, which came out of shallow bays in the upper and lower wings when needed.  These are moulded-into the wings and can be fitted in either retracted or deployed positions by setting the PE spoilers flush or perpendicular to the wing surface, as shown in the instructions.   The long greenhouse canopy can be fitted closed by using the windscreen and single canopy part, or you can change it out and use the four-part open canopy that is also on the sprue, checking your references for the correct angles and position of the parts.  The prop is a two-blade affair and has a separate cap on the axle, then you depict the gun ports by drilling out a 2mm hole in the leading edge of the wing, and applying a PE patch over the hole, with a pitot probe on the left wingtip and aerial mast at the front on the engine cowling.  More spoilers are fitted to the underside, and two resin bombs on shackles are glued into holes under the inner wing panels along with the pilot’s two panel window in the underside that helps locating the target's position in preparation for diving on its prey.




The Vindicator had a relatively short career in French hands, so three of the four are painted in a blue grey shade, while one has some green camouflage splotches oversprayed to give a more unusual look.   From the box you can build one of the following:


  • No.13/AB1-12, Escadrille AB1, Boulogne-Alprech, winter 1939-40
  • No.7/White 6, Escadrille AB1, French Vindicators’ carrier tests, aircraft carrier ‘Béarn’, may 1940
  • No.10/White 9, Escadrille AB3, Hyeres, 1940
  • No.8/AB1-6, Escadrille AB1, Boulogne-Alprech, autumn 1939-40







A welcome niche variant reboxing of this lesser-known type that fought valiantly at the beginning of WWII but received little in the way of acknowledgement for its efforts or those brave aviators in the cockpit.


Highly recommended.




Review sample courtesy of


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