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1:72 Valom Northrop BT-1 Dive Bomber


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Before the Dauntless was a Douglas SBD, it was a Northrop BT. Northrop began work on the BT dive bomber back in 1935, but in 1937 the Northrop Corporation was acquired by Douglas, who then ran Northrop as a subsidiary. The BT project continued and the Northrop BT-1 entered service with the USN in 1938 aboard Enterprise and Yorktown. The USN acquired 54 production versions of the new dive bomber, but due to some unpredictable handling characteristics at slow speed it was not an entirely successful design. It was a modern aircraft for the time, being an all-metal monoplane with retracting landing gear (although the gear retracted backwards into a rather ungainly looking housing below the wing). Ed Heinemann and his talented designers improved the BT-1, and the resulting XBT-2 flew in 1938. The USN ordered 144 production aircraft, with the last 87 re-designated SBD-1. The rest, as they say, is history with nearly 6,000 SBD aircraft produced during WW2.

 

Here is a great colour shot from Life magazine of a VB-6 BT-1 onboard the USS Enterprise ca. 1940:

 

On Deck

 

And a flight line of aircraft from VB-5:

 

Flightline

 

This next shot I like a lot as it allows one to see the evolution towards the Dauntless. On top is the XBT-1, and on the bottom is the XBT-2:

 

BT-1 and BT-2 comparison

 

In 1:72 scale there are not many choices to build this aircraft. I didn't consider the old vacuform Esoteric kit nor the resin kit from FE Resin (even if I could find either one of them). That leaves the recent offering from Valom which will be the basis for this build. Here's the obligatory shot of the box top and what's inside:

 

IMG_6522

 

There is a grand total of one (1) injection moulded sprue moulded in grey, containing just 41 parts (assuming I can still count properly). Surely this won't take six months like my last build! (Famous Last Words...)

 

IMG_6518

 

Valom provide resin bits for the engine, cockpit, and bomb casing along with two canopies - one is injection moulded and the other vacuformed. It's nice that both are included so the modeller has a choice, especially if he/she wants to open up the canopy. That would be pretty much impossible with the injection moulded canopy, but doable (with some difficulty) using the vacuform.

 

IMG_6519

 

It wouldn't be a short-run Valom kit without a photoetch fret, and this contains more cockpit detail, but more importantly the perforated dive flaps. A small decal sheet and instrument panel film complete the contents of the box.

 

IMG_6520

 

Markings are included for VB-5 aboard Yorktown and VB-6 on Enterprise. I prefer the former at this point due to the blue stripes and forward portion of the cowling, yellow wings, and red tail. Very colourful!

 

I've ordered the Ginter volume on the Northrop BT and it should be arriving soon. I don't have much other reference material on the BT, and I'm hoping that the Ginter book will live up to the reputation of the rest of the Naval Fighter series. I'm sure it will!

 

I've begun removing the resin bits from their casting blocks, cleaning things up, and so on. I'll build the engine first (a P&W R-1535 Twin Wasp Junior 14 cylinder double row air-cooled radial). Then I'll get to work on the cockpit - hopefully Mr. Ginter will inform me what colour to paint it...I suspect it's aluminum rather than zinc chromate or interior green.

 

Cheers,

Bill

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Ooh, colourful!

 

Before you get too carried away with the engine, it will be worth ensuring it fits in the cowling without major surgery. I’ve found most of the Bristols I have from Valom need a fair chunk removed at the outer ends of the cylinders in order to fit the cowlings.

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3 hours ago, Heather Kay said:

Before you get too carried away with the engine, it will be worth ensuring it fits in the cowling without major surgery.

 

Thanks for the warning! Luckily, that doesn't seem to be an issue with this kit, there is room to spare:

 

IMG_6523

 

2 hours ago, giemme said:

Colorful, as @Heather Kay says, a naval aircraft - what's not to like? :winkgrin:

 

Agreed, I've done a lot of colourful subjects lately. I guess I just got tired of low-viz jets and all those standard WW2 camo schemes. They'll come back someday. In the meantime, another naval aircraft - which reminds me of my silly nickname on this forum.    :drunk:

 

*****

 

I've added the photo of the grey sprue above which I forgot when I first posted this topic. I hope the Ginter volume has some reasonable drawings, as the Valom kit seems almost devoid of surface detail. Major panel lines are present of course, but methinks there should be more. Ugh - I hate scribing.     :)

 

Cheers,

Bill

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Ah, good.

 

Glad you’ve started another one straight away Bill.  And an interesting one to boot.  I love the weird retracted-undercarriage fairing; I suppose that was cutting-edge thinking back in the day.  Or maybe not even then.

 

Anywhich way, a Bill build to read with my morning coffee.  Excellent.

 

PS.  You may hate scribing - but I predict scribing perfection will be in our reading future….  Just saying.

 

Edited by Fritag
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I'm sure this will be another first class build from you, Bill, however long it takes. I'll claim a pew :popcorn:

 

James

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9 hours ago, Fritag said:

I love the weird retracted-undercarriage fairing; I suppose that was cutting-edge thinking back in the day.  Or maybe not even then.

 

The fairings don't look too bad when the gear is extended and the aircraft is on the ground. However, this shot of several BT-1 aircraft ready to dive bomb Miami shows why I used the adjective "ungainly." They really ruin the lines of the plane, and make it look like a product of the 30s. No, wait...it was a product of the 30s. I wonder if it could land with the gear retracted and the tyres sticking out like an A-10...

 

northrup bt1 dive bombers miami 1939

 

Even the Navy thought they were odd  :)  - hence the experiments with a tricycle gear on the BT-1.

 

bt1-9

 

I read somewhere that this configuration was the first tricycle gear aircraft to land on a US carrier - have no idea if that's really true or just some Internet thing.

 

7 hours ago, 81-er said:

I'm sure this will be another first class build from you, Bill, however long it takes. I'll claim a pew :popcorn:

 

Thanks James. I hope it doesn't take long, as I have way too many kits in the stash!

 

*****

 

I found it interesting that the BT-1 was one of the planes used to test the disruptive (or dazzle) camouflage designed by McClelland Barclay (a pin-up and recruiting poster artist). I'll stick with the yellow wing scheme, I think it will have less masking!    :)

 

1460022136049

 

1460022169652

 

Cheers,

Bill

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13 hours ago, Navy Bird said:

Even the Navy thought they were odd  :)  - hence the experiments with a tricycle gear on the BT-1.

 

bt1-9

 

I read somewhere that this configuration was the first tricycle gear aircraft to land on a US carrier - have no idea if that's really true or just some Internet thing.

 

 

Cheers,

Bill

Strictly speaking, maybe, but the first airplane to land on a US ship had a tricycle gear: https://airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/eugene-ely-and-birth-naval-aviation-january-18-1911

Edited by Tailspin Turtle
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If I knew why the Navy felt the need to evaluate a tricycle-gear arrangement for a single-engine carrier-based airplane, I've forgotten it. It might have been considered as a way to reduce the incidence of nose overs that necessitated the need to replace engines. It did become standard for twin-engine carrier-based airplanes: https://thanlont.blogspot.com/2014/10/tricycles-are-for-kids.html

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19 minutes ago, Navy Bird said:

I wonder if it could land with the gear retracted and the tyres sticking out like an A-10...

The DC-3, a Douglas-family contemporary to the BT-1, had that feature; most likely the DC-2 before it. I imagine it was due to concern about landing without the gear extended. 

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That fairing is so huge that even with the landing gear retracted, I believe if you made a perfect three-point landing with the gear retracted, you wouldn't damage the propeller. Excellent choice, Bill! I have this kit also, and love that '30's vibe' of it.

 

Best Regards,

 

Jason

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28 minutes ago, Tailspin Turtle said:

Strictly speaking, maybe, but the first airplane to land on a US ship ha a tricycle gear: https://airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/eugene-ely-and-birth-naval-aviation-january-18-1911

 

Ah, I forgot all about Ely. Thanks for the reminder!     :)

 

16 minutes ago, Tailspin Turtle said:

If I knew why the Navy felt the need to evaluate a tricycle-gear arrangement for a single-engine carrier-based airplane, I've forgotten it. It might have been considered as a way to reduce the incidence of nose overs that necessitated the need to replace engines. It did become standard for twin-engine carrier-based airplanes: https://thanlont.blogspot.com/2014/10/tricycles-are-for-kids.html

 

As always, Tommy, that is a great blog post. Somehow I missed that one - I will have to go back to your blogs and start reading each post again. I'm sure there is more that I've missed. Or - you could put them all in a PDF file and set up an Internet store to collect the money. I suspect you'd get a lot of orders!

 

Cheers,

Bill

 

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I'll take a seat for this one if I may? I always learn a lot from your builds Bill.

 

  Stay safe            Roger 

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On 12/08/2022 at 18:11, RidgeRunner said:

And off you go again, on another interesting build, Bill! I love those disruptive schemes :)

 

For sure the late 30s "yellow wings" are not my usual cuppa tea. But it's good to mix it up once in a while!

 

16 hours ago, Hamden said:

I'll take a seat for this one if I may? I always learn a lot from your builds Bill.

 

Plenty of room! Did you being any beer?    :drink:

 

*****

 

Today I thought I'd get a lot of work done, seeing as nothing needed to be taken care of in the house or garden, and no grandkids were coming over. Unfortunately, that didn't quite come to pass. Let's see what derailed me.

 

First, I noticed that I had to trim out the aft corner where the lower wing section mates with the wing root of the fuselage side. You can see this clearly in the photo - but this is not flash, this is (in my opinion) a flaw in the mould.

 

IMG_6525

 

No big deal. Easy peasy. Next, those lovely injection (ejection?) (rejection?) towers inside of the vertical fins. We have two of them, and they interfere with each other.

 

IMG_6524

 

These are also no big deal, I remove these all the time. I use a #17 chisel blade in an X-acto holder and carefully slice them puppies right outta there. Sometimes I use the Dremel, but I use the chisel most of the time. This time, I think I'm going to regret using the chisel blade.

 

'Cause it slipped.

 

Normally, it would just go chattering away across the plastic, until it either stops on its own or it hits something. The something it hit this time was my left index finger.

 

OK, so you cut yourself. Big deal, put a Band-Aid on it and get back to the workbench!    :devil:

 

Except I didn't exactly cut myself. In one of those extremely rare cosmic coincidences, the blade was perfectly aligned - to slide in-between my fingernail and my finger. To a depth of about 4mm.

 

Have you ever experienced the old torture technique of sliding bamboo under your nails? Have you ever heard a grown man (and an old one at that) scream? Loudly? So loud that wifey was dialing 911 before she even knew what happened? At which point she nearly fainted when she saw what I had done? And let me tell you, it hurt just as much coming out as it did going in.

 

I can't tell, but I believe the skin under the nail got chewed up pretty good. The underside of the nail is all blood, so you can't see anything. I bathed the finger in antiseptic in case the plastic I was trimming had any bizarre gorilla virus on it. Did I tell you that that hurt like hell too?

 

It's been a fun day. I'm typing this with one finger, and it's taken forever. Give me a day or so to recuperate and we'll see if I have to give up modelling or not.    :)

 

(Not.)

 

Cheers,

Bill

 

PS. I'd go to the doctor but he would just tell me to put a Band-Aid on it and get back to the workbench.

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Ye gods, that was an uncomfortable read.

 

Hope your finger makes a full recovery.

 

AW

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Ouch! I'll think of that every time I work on my BT-1 (I've already got most of the bits out and sanded, ready to be assembled - someday, without chisel blade!).

 

Best Regards,

 

Jason

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4 hours ago, Navy Bird said:

Sometimes I use the Dremel, but I use the chisel most of the time.

I bet that is going to change. The other alternative is side cutters.

I have one of these and I'll wait until you have finished to start it!

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Jeepers Bill!

 

I’ll never complain about a mere splinter again!  (ok I’m sure that I will, but I’ll think of you and feel a bit guilty….)

 

 

 

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Ouch.

 

Looks like a great subject, love the colour scheme, although it seems you started to paint the tail red a bit too early!

 

I love the shot of them flying in formation over the cityscape. The buildings look like they could have been built from Lego. They are so uniform - a 1930s vision of modern living.

 

Hope your finger gets better soon.

 

Regards,

Adrian

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Sorry to hear about your accident Bill, hope you make a speedy recovery.

 

7 hours ago, Navy Bird said:

Did you being any beer?    :drink:

 

Yes a local to me Fursty Ferret amber ale it's a 4.4% so hope that's ok. (Don't want to upset @Pete in Lincs as he usually has the market covered)

 

  Stay safe            Roger

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Bill that is the best story I have heard in a long time, still chuckling.  Things under fingernails, scary but still chuckling.  I have been there plenty of times with splinters, steel swarf stanley knife cuts etc

 

I once worked with a Canadian who had the fortune to have a hardwood splinter go through the palm of his hand from his thumb to his little finger.  A trip to the ER (cost $0 here in Australia) to have the splinter removed but they didn't get the middle bit (it ended up in 3 pieces) and the middle bit came out 2 weeks later with a lot of muck, language and teary eyes.  The funny thing he didn't know what to do or where to go for help, I had only a stanley knife and there was no way I going to operate.  I sent him to Lismore Base Hospital for treatment and he was surprised he didn't need insurance.   He did have a long wait.  That is something you also get for free in Aussie Hospitals is a long wait.

Another co worker, a big bloke, 10 pick handles across the shoulders.  He could drive a 3" nail home with 3 hits,  This particular day he looked away on the sencond hit and drove his thumb nail down past the head of the nail.  He and the piece of hardwood had to go to the hospital together.  I have done the same thing but a clout instead of the 3" nail.  The wife new it hurt as there was no swearing just a terrible quietness and tears in my eyes.  

 

This is going to be a great build as always even with a broken finger.

 

Stephen who had a cringe at the thumbnail story

 

 

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7 minutes ago, Pete in Lincs said:

Fursty Ferret must be very local, It's a new one to me.

 

https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.badgerbeers.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2018%2F04%2Fbadger_bottle_fursty_ferret_final_A3-1.png&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.badgerbeers.com%2Four-beers%2Ffursty-ferret%2F&tbnid=iuH3FxVkb1YGxM&vet=12ahUKEwjlu__V9sX5AhUJlRoKHb6bAHwQMygBegUIARDIAg..i&docid=W7RpSF6ntDDZaM&w=405&h=1000&q=fursty ferret&ved=2ahUKEwjlu__V9sX5AhUJlRoKHb6bAHwQMygBegUIARDIAg

 

Fursty Ferret is brewed by Badger Breweries of Blandford Dorset and is very pleasant on a hot day when sat back catching up with BM

 

Sorry the pirates are putting you off coming down Pete but @Martian usually keeps them away! something about all beer belonging to him!

 

     Stay safe        Roger 

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