Hobby Master 1/72 Air Power Series HA0166, Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless NZ5060 of 25 Squadron, RNZAF based at Piva in April 1944. A superb feature of this model is that the highly intricate and accurate photo-etched dive brakes are manufactured in the extended position. Production of only 650 pieces.
During February and March 1944 the RNZAF received 18 ex-USMC SBD-5’s. One of
the aircraft c/n 3863 Bu.No28516 became NZ5060 and was assigned to No. 25
Squadron. The aircraft arrived at Piva Airstrip on Bougainville on March 23rd 1944 and flew its first mission on March 24th. NZ5060 was crewed by Flying Officer Leslie McLellan-Symonds and Flight Sergeant R.F. Bailey. The main targets for No. 25 were other parts of Bougainville and Rabaul. The normal tour of duty in the Piva area was six weeks but No. 25 Squadron did eight. The crews flew an average of 95 hours and completed 29 of 32 planned strikes. The RNZAF began to receive F4U-1 Corsairs and after only 4 months of service the SBD-5’s were returned to the USMC on May 20, 1944.
The SBD-5 Dauntless was the best variant built with 2,965 aircraft being built. Even with its upgrades there was one major stumbling block for this plane and that was its lack of folding wings. As the USN built more and more carriers for their offensive against Japan this problem became even larger. So after the invasion of the Marianna’s the USN SBDs were assigned to secondary land based operations where they spent the rest of WWII.