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OVERVIEW
DOUGLAS SBD-2 DAUNTLESS
1940
 
SCOUT BOMBER/DIVE-BOMBER
 
     
SBD DAUNTLESS FAMILY
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SBD DAUNTLESS CONTEMPORARIES
 
 
Blackburn Skua
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
OVERVIEW
 
 

Underpowered, slow, limited in range, vulnerable to enemy fighters, and laborious to fly, the SBD Dauntless was to become a legend and an icon of the pacific war. Exceptional Control during a dive and its rugged construction helped the aircraft to become a winning design, a design which send more ships to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean than any other aircraft of its type.

Overall the SBD-2 was essentially SBD-1 with a few corrections made during production run. These corrections helped to levitate some of the designs shortcomings. Even though the aircraft still had many more problems the solutions applied helped the aircraft in the main issue of range. Range was increased from less than 900 nautical miles (actually effective combat radius of only 200) to over 1,200 nautical miles. This increase in range also help usher in an auto pilot system for the long over water flights. Despite the added weight of fuel and no armor protection for the crews or the fuel tanks, the United States Navy took delivery of 144 SBDs, 87 aircrafts being the SBD-2s.

The SBD-2 pictured here is the only known surviving aircraft from the Battle of Midway. Pulled out of Lake Michigan in 1994, then fully restored, it now sits on permanent display at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. This is an excerpt taken from the National Naval Aviation Museum website describing its part in the battle:

“On the morning of 4 June 1942, with 1st Lieutenant Daniel Iverson as pilot and Private First Class Wallace Reid manning the .30-caliber machine gun in the aft cockpit. The museum's aircraft was one of sixteen SBD-2s of VMSB-241 launched to attack Japanese aircraft carriers to the west of Midway. Approaching the enemy carrier Hiryu, the Marine planes came under fire from antiaircraft gunners and fighters of the enemy combat air patrol. Iverson, with two Japanese Zero fighters following him down in his dive, released his bomb at an altitude of 800 feet. During his egress from the target area, the pair of Zeroes on Iverson's tail were joined by two others, which pursued the Dauntless for miles. Enemy fire holed Iverson's plane 219 times, knocking out his hydraulic system and wounding Reid. One bullet came so close that it clipped Iverson's throat microphone chord. Nevertheless, the pilot managed to return to Midway, making a one-wheel landing on the atoll. His was one of only eight SBD-2s of VMSB-241 to return from the attack against the Japanese fleet. For their actions, Iverson received the Navy Cross and Reid was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.”

The SBD Dauntless had its share of weaknesses, but when called to battle it served with distinction and helped stop the Japanese Empire from conquering the whole pacific theater. Old and slow but rugged and maneuverable during a dive, newer designs that appear during the war never measured up to the SBD Dauntless' prestige.

 
     
 
DATA
 
 
DOUGLAS SBD-2 DAUNTLESS
 
CLASSIFICATION
CLASS :
 SCOUT BOMBER/DIVE BOMBER
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN :
 UNITED STATES
MANUFACTURER :
 DOUGLAS AIRCRAFT COMPANY
FIRST FLIGHT :
 1940
SERVICE DELIVERY :
 1940
NUMBER BUILT :
 87
   
SPECIFICATION
SPAN :
 41 ft 6 in
LENGTH :
 32 ft 2 in
HEIGHT :
 13 ft 7 in
WING AREA :
 325 sq. ft.
WEIGHT EMPTY :
 6,293 lbs
WEIGHT LOADED :
 9,061 lbs
WEIGHT MAX :
 10,360 lbs
ARMAMENT :
 2 x .30 in Fixed Machine Guns in Nose
 
 1 x .30 in. Flexible Rear-Firing Machine Gun
BOMB LOAD :
 1,600 lbs Center Rack, 2 x 100 lb Bombs
 
 or 2 x 325 lbs Depth Charges on Wing Racks
POWER PLANT :
 One Wright R-1820-32 Cyclone Nine-Cylinder Air-Cooled
 
  Super Charged Radial Engine Rated @ 1000 hp @ Takeoff
CREW :
 2 - Pilot & observer/Rear Gunner
   
PERFORMANCE
LANDING SPEED :
 75.5 mph
CRUISING SPEED :
 148 mph
MAXIMUM SPEED :
 252 mph @ 16,000 ft
CLIMB RATE :
 1,080 ft/min
RANGE :
 1,225 miles w/ 1000 lb Bomb, 1,370 miles Max
SERVICE CEILING :
 26,000 ft
 
 
 
 
REFERENCES
 
 

Gunston, Bill. The Illustrated Directory of Fighting Aircraft of World War II. New York: Prentice Hall Press. 1988. ISBN 0-13-450454-2.

Stern, Rob. SBD Dauntless In Action - Aircraft Number 64. Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc. 1984. ISBN 0-89747-153-9.

Gunston, Bill. JANE'S Fighting Aircraft of World War II. New Jersey: Crescent Books, 1992. ISBN 0-517-67964-7.

Wagner, Raymond. American Combat Planes, Third Enlarged Edition New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc, 1982. ISBN 0-385-13120-8.

 
 
     
 
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