Last week I found a new edition of Bert Kinzey’s “SBD Dauntless” book (Figure 59‑1). After ten years break, Bert started to continue his “Detail & Scale” series, this time in a different form: digital editions. This e-book is the “updated and revised” version of an earlier publication (from 1995). For me, the most important part of Kinzey’s books are the “walk around” photos. They differ from all other “walk arounds” by careful selection of the pictures and comprehensive comments that explain many technical details depicted on these images. Usually these comments are as important as the photos.
The last details that I create in this project stage are the gun doors behind gunner’s cockpit. In the SBD-1 they covered a single Browning gun. Fortunately, they were wide enough for stowing the double guns, which were mounted in the SBD-2 and SBD-3 by the Navy workshops (Figure 57‑1):
Note that stowing the ammunition belts of this double gun required additional cutouts in the cockpit rear border. They were covered by slide plates on both sides of the gun doors (Figure 57‑1). In this post I will recreate these details.
Before I start forming the frames of the Dauntless canopy (which I created in the previous post), I had to conduct yet another verification of its shape. I placed the canopy rails on the cockpit sides, and verified if they fit the corresponding canopy segments. First I tested the rails of the pilot’s canopy (Figure 51‑1a):
They were formed from open-profile beams (Figure 51‑1b). Why these rails are such an important test tool? Because they always have to be parallel to the fuselage centerline! It sounds obvious, but it can reveal various unexpected errors in the canopy shapes.
Like many contemporary designs, the SBD had a long, segmented (“greenhouse”) cockpit canopy. In this post I will show you how I recreated it in my model. I will begin with pilot’s canopy, then continue by creating the three next transparent segments.
I formed the pilot’s canopy by extruding the windscreen rear edge (Figure 50‑1). (I formed this windscreen earlier, it is described in this post). The high-resolution reference photo was a significant help in precise determining its size and shape:
Generally, the canopy shape in the SBD is quite simple. The tricky part was that each of its segments slides into the previous one. (Oh, well, the pilot’s canopy slides to the rear, but it does not matter in this case). This means that there were clearances between each pair of neighbor canopies that permitted such movements. If I made them too small or too wide, the last (fourth) canopy segment would not fit into cockpit rear border (i.e. the first tail bulkhead)! In such a case I would have to adjust back all the canopy segments. Well, I will do my best to avoid such error.