|Manufacturer||Douglas Aircraft Company|
|Primary Role||Dive Bomber|
|Maiden Flight||1 May 1940|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseThe SBD Dauntless dive bombers were the main dive bombers of the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps from late 1940. A number of them, known as A-24 Banshee, were employed by the US Army as well; the Army versions had no arresting hooks and used different tires. In early 1941, the variant SBD-3 began production, which offered increased protection, self-sealing fuel tanks, and four machine guns. During the Battle of the Coral Sea, Dauntless dive bombers took part in the destruction of the Japanese carrier Shoho, and in Midway they were involved in all four sinkings of Japanese fleet carriers.
ww2dbaseA SBD Dauntless crew veteran recalled:
ww2dbaseThe Dauntless was a charm; rock steady in a vertical dive, completely responsive to the controls and ready to absorb punishment and still get you home. I was worked over by two Japanese Type 97 fighters over Maloelap on the afternoon of 1 February 1942, and came out of it unconcerned with fifty holes through the tail surfaces and left wing tip, a hole in the gas tank in the root of my right wing and one small calibre that broke apart when it hit the back of my armoured seat.
ww2dbaseOur greatest vulnerability was the inadequate armour protection for the rear seat gunner. At Midway, a good number of our torpedo plane losses must have come after the gunner was killed. At that point, the dive-bomber or torpedo plane is dead.... It was my observation that as long as the tail gunner was firing, the attacking fighter tended to break off the attack before getting in killing range.
ww2dbaseAfter Coral Sea and Midway battles, the US Navy developed a highly efficient tactic with the SBD Dauntless dive bombers; they attacked at a steep grade with the "helldiving" technique, while torpedo bombers attacked in conjunction to distract Japanese gunners with attack of a different method. Defensively, the heavy armament of four machine guns posed a serious threat for Japanese fighters, which generally lacked armor protection. After being key participants of the various battles near Guadalcanal and around the Solomon Islands area, which dealt serious blows to Japanese shipping in the region, they took their last major action during Battle of the Philippine Sea. After that, their successors, the SB2C Helldiver bombers, took over as in the main dive bomber role.
ww2dbaseDuring the design's production life, 5,936 SBD Dauntless aircraft were built. They sank more Japanese shipping in the Pacific War than any other Allied aircraft.
ww2dbaseSources: Midway Dauntless Victory, Wikipedia.
Last Major Revision: Aug 2008
|Machinery||One Wright R-1820-66 Cyclone 9-cyl radial engine rated at 1,350hp|
|Armament||2x12.7mm machine guns, 2x7.62mm machine guns, optional 1,600lb of bombs under body, optional 650lb of bombers under wing|
|Wing Area||30.19 m²|
|Weight, Empty||2,905 kg|
|Weight, Loaded||4,843 kg|
|Weight, Maximum||4,853 kg|
|Speed, Maximum||410 km/h|
|Rate of Climb||8.60 m/s|
|Service Ceiling||7,780 m|
|Range, Normal||1,243 km|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945