YouTube - SBD Dauntless
4 x .50 cal.
33 ft. 1 in.
41 ft. 6 in.
The SBD Dauntless, produced by Douglas Aviation, is considered by many to be the most successful U.S. dive bomber of WW II. It originated as a modification to a light attack bomber, already in production. SBD stands for Scout Bomber Douglas.
A SBD Dauntless prototype first flew on July 22, 1935, designated XBT-1. After undergoing successful test flights, the United States Navy ordered 54 of the aircraft, redesignated BT-1.
The first production aircraft were equipped with an 825 h.p. Wright radial engine. When an 1,000 h.p. Wright engine was fitted to the aircraft, it was designated BT-2. Additional modifications and improvements were made to the dive bomber, and in August of 1937 it was redesignated XSBD-1.
A total of 57 SBD Dauntless aircraft were deployed by the U.S.M.C. in June of 1940, designated SBD-1. In July of 1940, the U.S. Navy contracted with Douglas for 82 SBD Dauntless aircraft. These had additional fuel capacity, autopilots, and additional armor for their cockpits. They were designated SBD-2.
Improvements continued on the aircraft, with the next version designated the SBD-3. The U.S. Navy ordered 400 of the aircraft in June of 1941. By the end of that year, SBD Dauntless aircraft were the primary dive bombing aircraft on U.S. Navy Pacific based aircraft carriers.
At the start of 1942, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Douglas SBD Dauntless aircraft were deployed on the U.S. aircraft carriers Lexington and Yorktown. The dive bombers were sent on numerous missions against Japanese shipping and shore fortifications leading up to the battle of the Coral Sea in May of 1942. During the battle, SBD Dauntless aircraft were credited with hits on the Japanese aircraft carrier Shoho, leading to its sinking. They also damaged the aircraft carrier Shokaku.
In June of 1942, during the battle of Midway, SBD Dauntless aircraft from the U.S. aircraft carriers Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown sank the Japanese aircraft carriers Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu. The carrier Hiryu was so badly damaged that it was eventually scuttled.
SBD Dauntless aircraft were equipped with radar and radio navigation for the first time when deployed in October of 1942. Shortly thereafter, SBD-5 versions of the aircraft were deployed. These had 1,200 h.p. engines. The last version of the SBD Dauntless, produced as WW II was drawing to an end, designated SBD-6, had a 1,350 h.p. engine.
Over 5,900 SBD Dauntless aircraft of all types were produced
The SBD Dauntless shown above, from Jerry Bates plans, has a wingspan of 85 in., weighs around 23 lbs. and can be powered by G45 or ST 3250 engines.
Jerry Bates has plans for a SBD Dauntless with a 100 in. wingspan. It weighs around 38 lbs. and needs from 3.7 to 5.2 engines for power.