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Book Review
SB2U Vindicator
SB2U Vindicator
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]


Originally published on:
AeroScale

Introduction
SB2U Vindicator is the second aircraft pictorial book by Classic Warships Publishing. Authored by aviation authority Dana Bell, this book is written for those with technical interest instead of as an operational history. This softcover book is 72 pages long and cataloged with ISBN 978-0-9823583-2-0. It is full of photos - even vintage color photos - and color artwork.

SB2U
Chance Vought's SB2U "Vindicator" is not one of the best known U.S. Navy carrier planes and is far eclipsed by its stablemate, the iconic SBD "Dauntless". Yet SB2U was a modern warplane when it was accepted for service in 1937, boasting many aeronautical advances and innovations. SB2U had great range for a single-engine scout-bomber and set a record for a non-stop flight for single-engine land planes. Readers familiar with the famous F4U Corsair and OS2U Kingfisher will recognize Chance Vought design styles in the long, round cowling, the vertical stabilizer, and the wing planform.

Three versions were built, the SB2U-3 (built specifically for the U.S. Marines) entering the shooting war at the Battle of Midway. By then the last Vindicator built was almost two years old and obsolescent. Midway the the only "hot" combat the SB2U would see. In the Atlantic, Vindicators chased Nazi U-Boats but scored no kills. SB2U was regulated to second-line duties after mid-1943.

While not mentioned in this book, Vindicators did see combat with France in 1940; further Vindicators undelivered due to France's fall were taken the Britain but found unsuitable for combat and regulated to training.

Content
Author Dana Bell has an esteemed reputation from his work at the Smithsonian. He brings an exceptional knowledge base and resources to this book. He states that information came mainly from Vought and Navy documents, technical manuals, reports drawings, and aircraft records. Mr. Bell further explains that the nickname "Vindicator" is used in the book, even though it was not assign the name until late 1941. That is the excellent information for which I acquire books like this!

This book seems to be written mainly for modelers and technical historians as only two pages recount the Vindicator's general history. More detailed specific information is revealed on each page. There are no chapters or sections, rather a progression of photos and illustrations and captions documenting SB2U development, from prototype to a 1942 operational sortie. The first 27 pages take the reader from the prototype to aerial portraits of a USMC SB2U-3 in the pre-war light gray with operational markings.

Pages 28-39 covers USN Unit Markings interspersed with close-up detailed technical shots of the SB2U engine and cockpit, plus in-flight views. Color illustrations detail colors and markings of the prewar Vindicators of four carrier air groups, plus the wing markings.

The next 18 pages reveals the USMC SB2U-3 in black-and-white technical photos, color illustrations, and color photography. The "dash three" was extensively modified with heavier armament and fuel, plus different outer wings.

Pages 59-62 spotlight bomb racks and the optional cine gun camera. The remaining nine pages are wartime photos and further Vought technical line art. Included are profile and planform technical drawings of the floastplane Vindicator with Edo pontoons. Flotation bags are shown, too.

The captions are frequently more of a narrative or expansion of previous topics, such as the Navy requirement that aircraft manufacturers paint and apply markings as part of their contractual obligation. Standard or experimental components and configurations are identified and presented upon. Colors and finishing specs are identified. Where a photo does not show everything that Mr. Bell deems significant, he writes about it. U.S. Navy aircraft of the 1930s had perhaps the most vivid and intricate finish and markings in the world, and the book explains that system for the six carriers that operated SB2Us.

Using documents derived from Vought blueprints (specific blueprint codes are identified), SB2Us of each ship are shown in color. Each lists the actual assignment of aircraft by serial number and assigned squadron code. Aircraft reassigned to other ships are documented, as well as significant dates and unit designation changes. The extent of detail includes the stroke width of each letter of stenciling. The distance of markings from distinct points of the airframe are also shown.

The text is a treasure trove of technical and operational information for modelers, historians, and Vindicator enthusiasts. It is obvious that an aircraft historian with years of experience at one of the world's premier aviation museums was involved in creating this model. Mr. Bell knows how to impart that knowledge in an interesting and easily read style.

The last page includes ADDITIONAL READING, RESOURCES, ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS, AIRCRAFT PICTORIAL SERIES, and credits for photos on the cover, back cover, and title page.

Photographs and Graphics
High-quality technical photographs of the cockpit, rear cockpit, airframe structural components, landing gear and tail wheel, and engine are included. Color commentary is included in the captions, such as when USN switched from aluminum to green for the crew compartments. Many of the photos show fascinating operational and experimental designs, such as an SB2U with a radar pod on the wing, and a clear image and explanation of the Reverse-Flow Cowl.

Vindicators were prominently featured in the Technicolor 1941 movie Dive Bomber. USN cooperated closely with the movie and one of those vivid stills in in this book. It shows other interesting detail such as the color of prewar carrier deck stain.

Derived from Vought USN color/markings blueprints are several color illustrations:
    Top Hats, VB-2B/VB-3/VB-4/VS-41.

    Bellerophon and Pegasus, VB-2.

    Black Panthers, VB-4/VB-3.

    Centaur Vampires, VS-72.

    SB2U-2/SB2U-3 Wing Markings, taken from Vought drawings.

    Marine Corps SB2U Squadrons, VMS-1/VMSB-131, VMS-2/VMSB-231/VMSB-241

Line art includes Vought general arrangement diagrams:
    Head-on, with wing fold and landing gear-bomb clearance angles.

    SB2U-2 profile

    500 Lbs bomb & wing bomb installation

    Mean aerodynamic chord

    SB2U-3 planform

    SB2U-3 head-on, with wing fold and landing gear-bomb clearance angles.

    SB2U-3 on Edo floats planform

    SB2U-3 on Edo floats profile

    SB2U-3 500 Lbs bomb & wing bomb installation

These are clear and easy to read.

Conclusion
SB2U Vindicator Aircraft Pictorial 2 is written for those with technical interest instead of as an operational history. Exceptional photographic support is the key to this book. The color illustrations and photos are excellent sources of information.

I have only one minor criticism, a typo in the history title. While embarrassing, it should not detract from the rest of the book as the typo is not repeated.

This book contains the excellent information for which I acquire books like this! Anyone interested in the SB2U, or USN aircraft of the 1930s into 1942, should find this book highly desirable. Highly recommended!

Thanks to author Dana Bell and CW Publishing for providing this review copy. Be sure to tell them that you saw it reviewed here on Aeroscale when ordering your copy.
SUMMARY
Highs: Exceptional photographic support is the key to this book. The color illustrations and photos are excellent sources of information.
Lows: I have only one minor criticism, a typo in the history title.
Verdict: This book contains the excellent information for which I acquire books like this! Anyone interested in the SB2U, or USN aircraft of the 1930s into 1942, should find this book highly desirable.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-0-9823583-2-0
  Suggested Retail: $18
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jan 23, 2016
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.00%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 0.00%

Our Thanks to Classic Warships Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)
FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright 2017 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Thanks for the review...must pick up this book as it will be excellent help in building the Accurate Miniature's kit I just got real cheap at a hobby show. Cheers, Joe
JAN 23, 2016 - 12:47 PM
Excellent review, Fred, thanks for knocking this one out so quickly. Dana puts together the sort of "if you're only going to buy one book" books that modelers would be well-served to purchase.
JAN 25, 2016 - 04:57 AM
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