Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SBD Dauntless

 "Douglas Scout Bomber Carrier-based Low-wing monoplane Radial engine (1)

One of the most rugged airplanes ever built, the "Dauntless" literally has "nine lives" in combat service. Its exploits in action-such as its many conquests in the Coral Sea battle and at Midway-speak for themselves. A 1,000-pound bomb is carried in a cradle under its center section, and bomb racks are also fitted under the wing roots.

The "Dauntless," powered by a single Wright R-1820 radial engine, will develop a speed of about 250 miles per hour in level flight. It was long considered to be the finest carrier-based dive bomber in the world. You'll remember the "Dauntless" in your mind's eye by its perforated wing flaps, rounded wing tips, and the prominent undercurve in its fuselage. The trailing edge of the wing is gracefully streamlined into the tapering fuselage."
(from Navpers 10303, USN)
A-24B Banshee 42-54582 on display at the National Museum of the US Air Force
Douglas A-24 dive bomber at NMUSAF

The Dauntless actually began its evolution as the Northrop BT-1. That iteration of Northrop's company later became the Douglas El Segundo division, and designer Ed Heinemann took the inherited BT-1 and thoroughly revamped it, fitting an R-1830 Cyclone in place of the BT's Double Wasp Jr, as well as full retractable landing gear.

Much less successful than the Navy and Marine Dauntlesses were the USAAF's A-24 Banshees, the first of which had been ordered nearly a year before the US entered WWII. The SBD-3A version with carrier features deleted was followed by the A-24A (equivalent to the SBD-4) and the A-24B version of the SBD-5.

Dauntless walk around photo - main gear
A-24 Banshee main landing gear

Dauntless walk around - underwing bomb rack
A-24 underwing bomb rack
Dauntless dive brakes
A-24B dive brake detail

SBD-3 tail
A-24 Banshee tail

Remarkably, the A-24 was (in extremely limited numbers) the last Dauntless to remain in US service. A drone conversion and its controlling aircraft were still in use with the newly independent USAF when the "Attack" designation was abandoned in 1948; no doubt wondering what to call these oddballs, the Air Force settled in QF-24A and QF-24B, respectively.

SBD & related bibliography:
Photo: Dauntless under rebuild  Air Classics April 1986  p.56, p.59

"Preservation Profile: SBD-5 N670AM/BuNo 28536" Aeroplane Monthly May 1989 p.302-33 Includes a large color photo.

Peter Smith "The Pensacola Eight" FlyPast February 1998. Recovered SBDs at the National Museum of Military Aviation.

"Workbench Reviews: Northrop BT-1 in 1/72 scale from Valom" FineScale Modeler  April 2007  p.60

Roberto Macri "Slow But Deadly"  Skymodel 20/09  p.14-19  Building the Accurate Miniatures 1/48 SBD-3 kit.

Scale Models and Aftermarket:
Yellow-Wings Decals  1/32 scale 32-001 SBD-2 Dauntless "Midway Madness"
Yellow Wings Decals  1/48 scale  48-011 USMC SBD-1 Dauntless Section Leaders

The Hasegawa 1/72 Dauntless kit has been reissued as an A-24, while Italeri has reissued the Accurate Miniatures SBD-5 as an A-24B.

Trumpeter 1/32 scale SBD-3 as an aircraft of Operation Torch

Hasegawa 1/72 scale SBD-4

Guillows SBD

1/48 scale SBD paper model


Douglas SBD Dauntless - Walk Around No. 33
by Richard S. Dann, Don Greer, Darren Glenn and Dave Gebhardt

SBD Dauntless Units of World War 2 (Osprey Combat Aircraft 10) by Barrett Tillman and Tom Tullis

SBD Dauntless in detail & scale - D&S Vol. 48 by Bert Kinzey

The American Bomber Plane  by Ted & Amy Williams.  Includes an SBD-3 3-view, a good shot of the rear gunner position, ,and a color shot of the production line at El Segundo showing aircraft with the red surround national insignia.

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