It started its career at Pearl Harbor in October 1943. From there it went to Espiritu Santo in the South Pacific in March of '44 and was assigned to the 25 Squadron of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. During its brief service with the RNZAF, it flew 32 combat missions from Bougainville. In May of that year, it was returned to the U.S. Navy at Russell Island and departed for San Diego in June.
The Douglas Aircraft Co. SBD Dauntless dive bomber became a mainstay of the U.S. 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 U.S. 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. The SBD Dauntless featured “Swiss cheese” flaps—dive brakes punched with 3-inch holes—so that it could achieve pinpoint accuracy by diving to the target, dropping the bomb, and then pulling out of the near-vertical dive.
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.
Best known for its dive-bombing success against the Japanese during the Battle of Midway during World War II. Armed with two forward-firing .50-caliber machine guns and flexible twin .30-caliber guns aft, the SBD was well defended while diving on a target with its typical configuration of a 500- or 1,000-pound bomb.
|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|