Gallery: Dou­glas SBD-3

Chuck Hamil­ton’s Daunt­less dive-bomber

Model Airplane News - - CONTENTS - By Gerry Yar­rish

Chuck Hamil­ton’s Daunt­less dive-bomber

First com­pet­ing at the 2017 Top Gun Scale In­vi­ta­tional, Chuck Hamil­ton of Bre­men, In­di­ana, flew his im­pres­sive Dou­glas SBD-3 Daunt­less in the Pro-Am class. Chuck came back in 2018 for the 30th an­nual event, and again fly­ing his Daunt­less, he placed eighth in the Ex­pert class. For many scale model­ers, the SBD Daunt­less is an im­pres­sive choice for a project be­cause the full-size dive-bomber played such a rec­og­nized role in the Pa­cific Theater of World War II.

In some way, ev­ery model Chuck has built ties back to his fa­ther, and this Ziroli-de­signed SDB-3 Daunt­less is no ex­cep­tion. He and his fa­ther,

Lloyd Hamil­ton, were at the Kala­ma­zoo Air Zoo in Michi­gan when they ac­quired the orig­i­nal air­craft on which this model is based. While look­ing over the Daunt­less, which was re­cov­ered from Lake Michi­gan (with all the lake growth still at­tached), his fa­ther told him the story of his best friend be­ing an SBD rear gun­ner dur­ing WW II. At that mo­ment, Chuck knew he had to build one.

The SBD has tra­di­tional balsa-and-ply­wood con­struc­tion and is nicely pow­ered by a Zenoah GT80 twin-cylin­der gas en­gine. The model has a wing­span of 100 inches, is 78 inches long, and has 1,750 square inches of wing area. It fea­tures scale Ro­bart re­tractable land­ing gear and a fully de­tailed cock­pit. Chuck uses a Spek­trum DX18 ra­dio sys­tem for guid­ance, and he has been fly­ing his model at lo­cal fly-ins and events for more than four years. Chuck says the love for mod­el­ing goes back to his fa­ther, who was in­volved dur­ing the in­fancy of RC. The love of mil­i­tary air­craft and scale mod­el­ing has kept them close.

We had a chance to speak with Chuck about his beau­ti­ful warbird and here’s what we learned.

MAN: Tell us about the fin­ish on your Daunt­less. Chuck Hamil­ton:

I used latex house­hold paint to paint the model, in­clud­ing the air­craft mark­ings. The var­i­ous washes and sur­face de­tail­ing was all done with latex.

Why did you choose the Daunt­less?

I gen­er­ally build all my air­craft from the 1935 to 1945 time pe­riod. As a kid, I built rub­ber band– pow­ered free-flight mod­els and scale plas­tic mod­els of the SBD.

How long did it take to build, fin­ish, paint, and de­tail it?

It took about two years. For the base fin­ish, I used Zap Fin­ish­ing Resin and fiber­glass cloth. For the riv­ets, I used glue drops, and I burned in the flat screw heads with a mod­i­fied sol­der­ing iron. The panel lines are done with pin­strip­ing tape in the primer coat. Zap CA ad­he­sive and CA kicker were used through­out the con­struc­tion, and I used a cock­pit de­tail­ing kit from Dy­namic Balsa.

What do you like most about the Daunt­less?

It’s a great, solid-fly­ing plat­form. The Zenoah GT80 pro­vides abun­dant power, and over­all, there are a lot of things hap­pen­ing for fan­tas­tic de­tail op­por­tu­ni­ties. The flaps and dive brakes are a clas­sic part of the de­sign, and they work re­ally well on the RC air­plane. Also, the dive and bomb drop is a pop­u­lar part of its flight rou­tine.

When did you first be­come in­volved in the hobby?

My fa­ther was in­volved in RC from the es­cape­ment days, but I didn’t get started fly­ing RC reg­u­larly un­til 1998.

What were your first model air­plane, ra­dio, and en­gine?

I learned to fly on a scratch-built 36-inch-span Fokker D.VIII that my fa­ther built for me. It was pow­ered with an Enya .15 glow en­gine.

What’s your fa­vorite air­plane—full-size or RC—and why?

I just love any­thing from WW I to WW II. I en­joy all the dif­fer­ent de­sign philoso­phies of those eras and the cre­ative think­ing in­volved.

Which do you pre­fer: fly­ing or build­ing?

It’s about 50-50. I re­ally en­joy all the new things I learn when I build, such as mold and pat­tern mak­ing, vac­uum-form­ing, etc., and now that I fly in com­pe­ti­tion, I find that mak­ing the air­craft look real while air­borne is quite chal­leng­ing.

Who most in­flu­enced you at the begin­ning of your RC in­volve­ment?

Hands down, my fa­ther. He was a WW II vet and just loved air­craft. Ev­ery air­craft I build has some tie back to him and our shared love for air­craft.

What keeps you ex­cited about the hobby?

It’s just about the air­planes. I hope to live long enough to build all my scale fa­vorites!


On the run­way at sunset with a great-fly­ing air­plane, Chuck poses for the cam­era af­ter a day of tough com­pe­ti­tion.

Chuck Hamil­ton’s Daunt­less is beau­ti­fully de­tailed both in­side and out, and the weath­er­ing is just the touch needed to add to its amaz­ing re­al­ism.

Coming in for a low and slow “dirty pass,” the SBD Daunt­less is well be­haved, even at low air­speeds and with flaps and gear ex­tended.

The cock­pit de­tail in the Daunt­less is well done and adds a lot to the model’s ap­peal.

The un­der­slung bomb works great. A lit­tle se­cret here is that the scale trapeze shown is there only for looks. A con­ven­tional re­lease mech­a­nism is built into the wing.

The dive brakes are both scale and very ef­fec­tive.

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