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Douglas SBD Dauntless

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The Douglas SBD Dauntless pounded the Japanese at Coral Sea, Midway and in the Solomons, and supported US Navy and Marine Corps actions until late 1944. This was a fair achievement for an aircraft that was underpowered, vulnerable, short on range and exhauting to fly. For all its flaws, the Dauntless, designed by Jack Northrop and Ed Heinemann, was a dramatic success.

Pilots of the SBD Dauntless sat high in a relatively 'clean' aircraft optimised to hurl bombs at targets while flying straight down into the enemy's midst. The pilot aimed the aircraft, and a crutch like trapeze threw forth a centreline bomb that narrowly cleared the propeller arc before boring downwards. The SBD roared, rattled and required constant attention on stick, throttle and rudder, but pilots took pride in mastering it and praised its achievements as a dive-bomber.

The US Army Dauntless, the A-24 was outfought on Jave in 1942 and was later used mostly for training. By the end of the war, Navy Dauntlesses were replaced by the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, but this aircraft never won the affection routinely bestowed on its predecessor.

If it had done nothing else but fight at Midway - where a handful of carrier pilots turned the tide of the Pacific war - the Douglas SBD Dauntless would be counted among important aircraft of the 20th century. But the SBD did more than wreck the Japanese fleet in that battle on 4 June 1942. From its conception in 1938 until late 1944 the SBD showed itself to be the most important American dive bomber ever built.


Douglas SBD Dauntless

Douglas SBD Dauntless two seat carrier based scout and dive bomber Douglas SBD Dauntless deadly dive bomber The hero of the Pacific war Douglas SBD Dauntless
Until mid 1942, the US aircraft wore highly visible red and white rudder stripes. Three SBD-5s return from a mission. The furthest aircraft has its aft defensive guns deployed from the rear cockpit. Although best known as a US navy warplane, the Dauntless also served in large numbers with the US Marine Corps, operating from land bases.

Douglas SBD Dauntless (Technical Specification)
Role Two seat carrier based scout and dive bomber
Manufacturer Douglas
Maximum Speed 410 kmh (254 mph)
Maximum Range 730 km (453 miles)
Ceiling 7,400 meters (24,275 feet)
Wing Area

12.66 meters (42 ft)
10.09 meters (33 ft)
4.14 meters (14 ft)
30.19 square meters (325 sq ft)
Engines One Wright R-1820-60 Cyclone air-cooled radial piston engines which provides 895-kW (1,200 hp)
Armament Two 12.7 mm (0.50 cal) fixed machine guns in nose
Two 7.62 mm (0.30 cal) manually aimed machine guns in the rear crewman's position
725 kg (1,600 lbs) of bombs under the fuselage
295 kg (650 lbs) of bombs under the wings

Photo Gallery

Taken at the Rhode Island Air National Guard Air Show 2012

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