SBD Dauntless (Walk Around 5533)
By Richard S. Dann
Publisher: Squadron/Signal Publications 2004 82 Pages
PDF 14 MB
The Douglas SBD Dauntless scout/dive-bomber was an evolutionary, not a revolutionary aircraft design. Its design roots stemmed back to a pair of 1934 Northrop designs: the US Army's A-17 and the US Navy's BT-1. One just has to look at the wing planform to note the obvious similarities. Even in the early development stages, the SBD suffered from a case of terminal obsolescence. When it was placed into service in late 1940. the Curtiss SB2C Helldivcr - its intended replacement - had been in Sight test for some time. Nevertheless, with unanticipated delays in Helidiver production, the US Marine Corps ordered 57 SBD-ls and the Navy ordered 87 improved SBD-2s.
When war finally came to the United States on 7 December 1941. the Dauntless was the Navy and Marine Corps' primary strike aircraft and maintained this stature through the end of 1942. when newer designs reached production status. It was the Battle of Midway on 4-7 June 1942 that will forever cement the Dauntless into United States military history. During this battle, two squadrons of SBDs from the carriers USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) and USS YORKTOWN (CV-5) turned the tide of the Pacific War by destroying four Imperial Japanese Navy fleet carriers.
While the Navy was the largest SBD operator, it must be remembered that the Marine Corps also Hew the Dauntless during the island-hopping campaign in the Pacific. Additionally, the US Army Air Forces also flew them, under the designation of A-24 Banshee. While the Army never did fully embrace dive-bombing as an effective tactic, they did fly them in combat: however, the type was primarily used in the utility role. Interestingly, the last of the type were US Air Force F-24 Banshees, with at least one in the inventory as late as June of 1950.
Besides the domestic operators, the SBD/A-24 saw combat with the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the French Air Force and Navy. Mexico purchased 30 SBDs and Chile bought 12 examples. Britain's Royal Navy and Royal Air Force evaluated it and Costa Rica purchased one. but it crashed on takeoff during its delivery flight.
Had this book been written 15 year ago. there would have been virtually no airframes to photograph. The sheer numbers salvaged from the Great Lakes mean there is now at least one of each sub-variant (SBD-1 through SBD-6) either on display or awaiting restoration.
This book would not have been as complete had it not been for Peter C. Smith in the UK or Kevin and Roma Smith in Fredericksburg. Virginia. Kevin is restoring a Dauntless, which was once a wind machine for MGM Studios.