A Bombing Ten SBD Dauntless launches from the carrier Enterprise in early 1944.

Picking a warbird

The decision on which warbird to build is as much an emotional decision as it is a technical one. There is not "right or wrong" other than making sure you don't choose a plane that you can't handle. Also, you want to make sure that any suppliers for the bird you choose are putting out a quality product with a good reputation.

Some people like fighters, some like big multi-engine bombers. Some are on a beer budget and some are on a champagne budget. In my case, I'm somewhere in the middle on all counts.

I knew I wanted something that would handle somewhat responsively and "fighter-like" but really liked all the extra character and scale options that the bombers have. My compromise was the SBD-5 Dauntless Dive Bomber with a number of things I was looking for:

  • modest overall size
  • decent flight characteristics
  • not too fast
  • a big ol' greenhouse canopy
  • a 2-man crew
  • lot's of scale features (bombs, guns, dive brakes, etc.)

The next step was to research who had plans available and where I might get a Laser-Cut kit made. I came across a good deal on the web for an set of plans, laser-cut wood, cowl and canopy for the 85" Jerry Bates design and took it. It was a tough decision not going with the obvious 100" Ziroli design, but I liked the idea of a slightly smaller footprint for my first warbird, and the second-hand purchase saved me a good bit of money.

Two SBD Dauntless Dive Bombers of the Bombing Ten circle the carrier Enterprise with tailhooks down... ready to land.

Which SBD to Model From?

Now I had to hit the books and the web to determine exactly what SBD I wanted to use as my "target" for scale accuracy. I had made the decision to go with the SBD-5 variant (SBD's were produced in 6 variants throughout their production life) and wanted to go with a carrier-based plane versus a land-based one. I also wanted to do one that I hadn't yet seen done, rather than some of the more obvious choices from the Battle of Midway or the few "restored" SBD's that have been modeled.

Then I came across a very interesting historical SBD-5 which flew in the Bombing Ten of the carrier USS Enterprise in the Pacific theater. Specifically, Bombing Ten had a brave young pilot, Lt. Cmdr James "Jig Dog" Ramage flying "41 Sniper" out of Task Force 58... yes this would be my target!

The Resources I Used When "Scouting" for Info

I used a number of resources when researching the SBD, both in print and on the web. Here is a list of books and internet resources that I found helpful in gathering historical, scale and modeling info on the Dauntless.


  • SBD DAUNTLESS in Detail & Scale rating
    - - by Bert Kinzey (Squadron Signal Publications - D&S Vol 48)
  • SBD DAUNTLESS Units of World War 2 rating
    - - by Barret Tillman (Osprey Aviation)
  • SBD DAUNTLESS in Action rating
    - - by Rob Stern (Squadron Signal Publications #64)
  • WORLD WAR II US Navy Air Combatrating
    - - by Robert Lawson & Barret Tillman (Lowe & B. Hould Publishers)

Web Pages



IPMS SBD's (Plastic Models)


"41 Sniper & Jig Dog"