One of the most successful USN carrier-based dive bombers of WWII was the Douglas SBD Dauntless which saw action from 1940 through to 1944, when it was replaced by the SB2C Helldiver and the Vought F4U Corsair.
With a reasonable operational range and good handling characteristics, the lightweight but ruggedly-built aircraft was both highly manoeuvrable and heavily armed - with two forward-firing .50 in M2 Browning machine guns and either one or two rear flexible-mount .30 in AN/M2 machine guns.
Equipped with its distinctive perforated split flaps or “dive-brakes” designed to eliminate tail buffeting during diving manoeuvres, the Dauntless was instrumental in sinking or damaging a number of Japanese light aircraft carriers and heavy cruisers during the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Battle of Midway and during the Guadalcanal campaign.
While not as fast as TBD Devastator, its pilots preferred its easy handling and slow landing speeds — essential characteristics for a carrier based aircraft although surprisingly, it was also capable of being flown quiet aggressively and successfully against the lighter armed Japanese fighters.
One Dauntless pilot, Stanley ‘Swede’ Vejtasa was attacked by three A6 Zero fighters and in the ensuring air battle, managed to shoot down two of them while destroying the third when he cut the Zero’s wing off during a head on pass with his wingtip.
Launched from US carriers, four squadrons of SBD;s attacked and sank four Japanese aircraft carriers during the Battle of Midway disabling three of them in the first 6 minutes of engagement and then severely damaging two straggling heavy cruisers securing their reputation for sinking more enemy shipping in the Pacific War than any other Allied bomber.
In the North Atlantic the SBD also saw action against German shipping in Norwegian waters as well as supporting the allied landings in North Africa in 1942.
While highly respected by its pilots, the need to patrol larger areas of the expansive Pacific eventually saw the Dauntless being phased out by the longer ranged and faster SB2C Helldiver
By the end of its service life, over 5963 SBD Dauntless had rolled off the assembly line with the plucky dive-bomber credited with over 1,189,473 carrier operational hours, destroying six Japanese carriers, 14 heavy cruisers, six destroyers and 15 transport ships together with many smaller enemy craft.
All Douglas SBD Dauntless Instruments listed below come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
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