While the vulnerable "glide bombing" was still considered the route for fighter-bomber hybrids like the SBD, trained Dauntless crews made the most of their "dive bombing" - literally taking the aircraft into a steep angled dive over the target - forays to sink more enemy shipping than any other aircraft in the Pacific Theater.
The legendary status of the SBD Dauntless and her crews was indeed earned.
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An aircraft - whose visual appearance might have done little to the enemy's psyche at first glance - was a sure wake up call to those Japanese sailors manning the flight decks onboard Empire aircraft carriers. A true classical warbird in every sense of the word. As an interesting side note, the Douglas SBD Dauntless did not feature folding wings, a common feature among carrier aircraft even to this day. Folding wings make for an economical way to maximize storage space aboard space-strapped aircraft carriers.
S SBD Dauntless. A ground crew watches a plane take off for a raid on Matanikau. Ammo 30cal belt Bomb strike on Choiseul Island in Douglas SBD Dauntless balanced on nose cph.
Douglas SBD Dauntless refueling detail in Douglas SBD-5 Douglas SBD-5 is pushed in hangar of escort carrier c F4F Wasp Gunner of SBD with Browning machine guns Hornet Air Group morning take off James D. Lae strike SBD. NL82GA Planes BOND SBDs sank six Japanese carriers, 14 enemy cruisers, six destroyers, 15 transports or cargo ships and scores of lesser craft.
The SBD had long range, good handling characteristics, maneuverability, potent bomb load capacity, great diving characteristics, defensive armament and ruggedness. Their two forward-firing machine guns and one or two rear flexible-mount machine guns were effective against the lightly-built Japanese fighters.
They also caught the Midway bombardment group of four heavy cruisers, heavily damaging two of them, the Mikuma so badly that she had to be scuttled.
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The success of dive-bombing was due to two important circumstances:. The Japanese carriers were vulnerable, readying bombers for battle, with full fuel hoses and armed ordnance strewn across the hangar decks. The torpedo aircraft squadrons from American carriers and Midway Atoll drew the Japanese fighter cover away, allowing the SBDs to attack freely.
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SBDs played a major role in the six-months long Guadalcanal campaign, operating off carriers and from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.
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