When I first got interested in history, I had focused on WWII mostly on Pearl Harbor then the battle of midway. The SBD Dauntlass figured promintantly in those history stories, especially when they sank the 4 Japanese carriers in the battle of Midway, shifting the balance of power in the pacific war. Japan never went on a strategic offensive after that. The long road to Tokyo had begun.
Also my favorite movie came out an I was hooked. Still is my favorite movie.
Information compliments of Wiki and my general surfing around.
SBD Dauntless Dive BomberThe Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber became a mainstay of the Navy's World War II air fleet in the Pacific, with the lowest loss ratio of any U.S. carrier-based aircraft. Douglas delivered a total of 5,936 SBDs and Army Air Forces A-24s between 1940 and the end of production in July 1944.
The Dauntless was developed at the Douglas Northrop facility at El Segundo, Calif., and was based on the Northrop Model 8 attack bomber developed for both the Army and the export market.
In addition to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Army Air Forces, the Dauntless served air forces in New Zealand and Mexico.
The first enemy ship sunk by the U.S. Navy in World II is credited to a Dauntless from the USS Enterprise. The diving Dauntless went on to destroy 18 enemy warships, including a battleship and six carriers.
|First flight:||May 1, 1940|
|Wingspan:||41 feet 6 inches|
|Height:||12 feet 11 inches|
|Power plant:||1,200-horsepower Wright R-1820-60 engine|
|Armament:||2,250-lb bomb load; two fixed, forward-firing .50-caliber machine guns and one or two flexible, belt-fed .30-caliber machine guns mounted in rear cockpit|
Although relatively slow and outmoded when it began its combat career, it was rugged and dependable and sank more Japanese shipping than any other aircraft during World War II.
Design and developmentThe Northrop BT-1 provided the basis for the SBD, which began manufacture in 1940. Ed Heinemann led a team of designers who considered a development with a 1,000 hp (750 kW) Wright Cyclone powerplant. A year earlier, both the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps had placed orders for the new dive bombers, designated the SBD-1 and SBD-2 (the latter had increased fuel capacity and different armament). The SBD-1 went to the Marine Corps in late 1940, and the SBD-2 went to the Navy in early 1941.
The next version, designated SBD-3, began manufacture in early 1941. It provided increased armor, self-sealing fuel tanks, and four machine guns. The SBD-4 provided a 12 volt (from 6) electrical system, and a few were converted into SBD-4P reconnaissance platforms.
Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was equipped with a 1,200 hp (890 kW) engine and increased ammunition. Over 2,400 were built, and a few were shipped to the Royal Navy for evaluation. In addition to American service, the type saw combat against the Japanese with No. 25 Squadron of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, which soon replaced them with F4U Corsairs, and against the Germans with the Free French Air Force. A few were also sent to Mexico. The final version, the SBD-6, provided more improvements but production ended in summer 1944.
The U.S. Army had its own version of the SBD, known as the A-24 Banshee, which lacked the tail hook used for carrier landings, and a pneumatic tire replaced the solid tail wheel. First assigned to the 27th Bombardment Group (Light) at Hunter Field, Ga., A-24s participated in the Louisiana maneuvers during September 1941. There were three versions of the Banshee (A-24, the A-24A and A-24B) used by the Army in the early stages of the war. The USAAF used 948 of the 5,937 Dauntlesses built.
United States Army Air ForcesUnited States Army Air Forces sent 52 A-24 Banshees in crates to the Philippine Islands in fall 1941 to equip the 27th Bombardment Group, whose personnel arrived separately. However with the early December attack on Pearl Harbor, these aircraft were diverted to Australia and the 27th BG fought on Bataan as infantry. While in Australia, these aircraft were reassembled for flight to the Philippines, but missing parts including solenoids, trigger motors, and gun mounts delayed shipment. Plagued with mechanical problems the A-24s were diverted to the 91st Bombardment Squadron and designated for assignment to Java instead. Referring to themselves as "Blue Rock Clay Pigeons", the 91st attacked the enemy harbor and airbase at Bali and damaged or sank numerous ships around Java. After the Japanese shot down two A-24s and damaged three so badly they could no longer fly, the 91st received orders to evacuate Java in early March, ending a brief but valiant effort.
The Banshees left in Australia were assigned to the 8th Bombardment Squadron of 3rd Bombardment Group, to defend New Guinea. On 26 July 1942, seven A-24s attacked a convoy off Buna, but only one survived: the Japanese shot down five of them and damaged the sixth so badly that it did not make it back to base. Regarded by many pilots as too slow, too short-ranged and too poorly armed, the remaining A-24s were relegated to non-combat missions. In the U.S., the A-24s became training aircraft or towed targets for aerial gunnery training. The more powerful A-24B was used later against the Japanese forces in the Gilbert Islands.
U.S. Navy and Marine Corps SBDs saw their first action at Pearl Harbor. A total of 18 SBDs from the carrier USS Enterprise arrived over Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack, and Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6) lost six aircraft, while Bombing Squadron Six (VB-6) lost one. Most Marine SBDs of Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 232 (VMSB-232) were destroyed on the ground at Ewa Mooring Mast Field. On 10 December 1941, Enterprise SBDs sank the Japanese submarine I-70. In February-March 1942, SBDs from the carriers USS Lexington, Yorktown and Enterprise took part in various strikes on Japanese installations in the Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, New Guinea, at Rabaul, on Wake and on Marcus Island. Later, SBDs painted to resemble Japanese aircraft appeared in the John Ford film December 7th (1943).
Battle of the Coral Sea, when SBDs and TBDs sank the Japanese carrier Shōhō. SBDs were also used as anti-torpedo combat air patrol (CAP) and scored several times against Japanese aircraft trying to attack Lexington and Yorktown.
Their relatively heavy gun armament—two forward firing .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns and either one or two rear flexible-mount .30 in (7.62 mm) AN/M2 machine guns—was effective against the lightly built Japanese fighters, and many pilot-gunner combinations took an aggressive attitude to fighters which attacked them. One pilot—Stanley "Swede" Vejtasa—was attacked by three Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero fighters but managed to shoot two of them down and cut off the wing of the third in a head-on pass with his wing tip. [N 1]
Battle of Midway in early June 1942, when SBD dive bomber attacks sank or fatally damaged all four of the Japanese aircraft carriers, three of them in the space of just six minutes (Akagi, Kaga, Sōryū, and later in the day Hiryū) as well as heavily damaging two Japanese cruisers (including Mikuma).
At Midway, Marine SBDs were not as effective. One squadron, VMSB-241, operating from Midway Island, was not trained in the "Helldiving" technique; instead, the new pilots resorted to the slower but easier glide bombing technique, which led to heavy losses. The carrier-borne squadrons, on the other hand, were much more effective, combined with their F4F Wildcat fighter escorts. The success of dive bombing was due to two important circumstances: firstly, and most importantly, the Japanese carriers were at their most vulnerable, readying bombers for battle, with full fuel hoses and armed ordnance strewn across their hangar decks. Secondly, the valiant but doomed assault of the TBD squadrons from the American carriers had drawn the Japanese fighter cover away from the dive bombers, thereby allowing the SBDs to attack unhindered.
Guadalcanal campaign, both from American carriers and Henderson Field on Guadalcanal Island. Dauntlesses contributed to the heavy loss of Japanese shipping during the campaign, including the carrier Ryūjō near the Solomon Islands on 24 August, damaging three others during the six-month campaign. SBDs proceeded to sink one cruiser and nine transports during the decisive Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
During the decisive period of the Pacific Campaign, the SBD's strengths and weaknesses became evident. While the American strength was dive bombing, the Japanese stressed their Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" torpedo bombers, which had caused the bulk of the damage at Pearl Harbor.
In the Atlantic Ocean, the SBD saw action during Operation Torch, the Allied landings in North Africa, in November 1942. The Dauntlesses operated from USS Ranger and two escort carriers. Eleven months later, in Operation Leader, the SBDs saw their European debut when aircraft from Ranger attacked German shipping around Bodø, Norway.
Although it was becoming obsolete by 1941, the SBD was used until 1944, when the Dauntless undertook its last major action during the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
SB2C Helldiver in the U.S. Navy, much to the dismay of the pilots, many of whom believed the "Slow But Deadly" Dauntless was a better aircraft than the Helldiver, which gained the nicknames "Son of a Bitch 2nd Class" and "The Beast". The Dauntless was one of the most important aircraft in the Pacific Theatre of World War II, sinking more enemy shipping in the Pacific war than any other Allied aircraft. In addition, Barrett Tillman, in his book on the Dauntless, claims that the Dauntless has a "plus" score against enemy aircraft, considered a rare event for a nominal "bomber".
A total of 5,936 SBDs were produced in World War II. When the last SBD rolled off the assembly lines at Douglas Aircraft Company's El Segundo plant on 21 July 1944, it marked the final dive bomber which the Navy was to buy. The Navy placed emphasis on the heavier, faster and longer-range SB2C. From Pearl Harbor until April 1944, SBDs had flown 1,189,473 operational hours, with 25 percent of all operational hours flown off aircraft carriers being in Dauntless aircraft. Its battle record shows that in addition to six Japanese carriers, 14 enemy cruisers had been sunk, along with six destroyers, fifteen transports or cargo ships and scores of various lesser craft.
A handful of A-24 Banshees survived in the USAAF's inventory long enough to be taken over by the United States Air Force when that service became independent of the U.S. Army in 1947. The USAF instituted a new designation system for its aircraft, eliminating the "A-for-Attack" category. Twin-engined "A" types were redesignated as bombers (another Douglas product, the A-26 Invader becoming the B-26) while single-engined "A" aircraft were identified as fighters. As a result, the Banshee became known as the F-24, although the type was retired shortly thereafter in 1950.