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SBD-1 "Dauntless"

Light Bomber and Reconnaissance Aircraft


SBD-1 Dauntless

As a result of the implementation of the NACA recommendations, the dive bomber acquired cleaner aerodynamic forms. The chassis has undergone the most dramatic changes. The huge fairings were removed, in which the main landing gear pivoting backward partially hid, the struts became fully retractable, and their wheels were hidden in the niches of the lower fuselage. The cockpit canopy has been completely redesigned. The converted prototype was adopted by the Bureau of Aeronautics in February 1939, and 144 SBD-1 aircraft were ordered on April 8. The change of designation from bomber (B-bomber) to reconnaissance bomber (SB - scout bomber) was made due to the fact that the Bureau of Aeronautics decided to reserve the designation "bomber" exclusively for multi-engine aircraft. This was not associated with any changes in the nature of the tasks performed by the aircraft.

SBD-1. On this modification, the aerodynamic shape of the hood was improved; in its upper part, a slightly convex rounded channel for the air intake into the engine carburetor was made. A fairing is installed on the propeller hub, and the radio antenna mast is moved back from the edge of the hood into place just in front of the firewall. The SBD-1 was armed with a pair of synchronous 12.7mm machine guns mounted in the fuselage right in front of the cockpit canopy and firing through special grooves in the hood panels. The breech of the machine guns protruded into the cockpit under the dashboard, which made it possible, in the event of a delay in firing, to easily reload them in flight. Downtless's main adversary, the Japanese Zero fighter, had a similar arrangement of weapons installed in its fuselage. The radio operator's place was equipped with one 7.62-mm machine gun on a turret for firing at the rear hemisphere. There were bomb racks for one bomb weighing up to 726 kg on the center section and for one standard 100-pound (453 kg) bomb or depth charge under each wing. The bomb on the center section was attached to a special rod, which was deflected forward and downward so that the bomb would pass the area swept by the propeller blades.

Despite the fact. that 144 SBD-1 bombers were ordered. in fact, only 57 aircraft were delivered (BuNo 1596 to 1631 and 1735 to 1755) since the Bureau of Aeronautics was considering the first Dountless modification. as not fully usable for combat use. The aircraft carried on-board armament, but did not have any armor protection for the crew and fuel tanks, and the combat radius was considered too small. 210 gallons (795 L) of fuel, which was housed in four tanks located in the center section (two main tanks with a capacity of 90 gallons and two auxiliary tanks with a capacity of 15 gallons), provided a range of less than 900 nautical miles (1,667 km) with a bomb load. Taking into account the time required to assemble aircraft participating in a combat mission and the time spent on landing and taxiing after returning from a mission, as well as the fuel required for combat and the corresponding reserve, the SBD-1 had an effective combat radius of less than 200 nautical miles. The Douglas firm has assured the Bureau of Aeronautics that these problems will be resolved starting with the 58th aircraft built. Therefore, the Bureau of Aeronautics agreed to accept the first 57 aircraft ("as is"), and disposed of them in an original way ... they were given to the Marine Corps aviation.

The SBD-1 began entering service with the 11th and 21st Air Groups of the United States Marine Corps in June 1940. During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 21st Air Group equipped with SBD-1 was based in Hawaii. As a result of the attack on the airfields, seventeen of the Dauntlesss, taken by surprise, were destroyed and the other twelve damaged.

SBD-2. The remaining 87 aircraft (per. numbers from 2102 to 2188) from the original production order were delivered in a modified version - SBD-2, and although the changes made to the SBD-2, did not solve all the problems inherent in the Downtless, but ironed out its most serious drawback - insufficient combat radius. The two 15-gallon auxiliary tanks were eliminated and 65-gallon tanks were installed in the wing consoles, which increased the total fuel capacity to 310 gallons (1173 L) and the range to 1200 nautical miles (2224 km). The increased weight of the fuel almost negated the improvement in the characteristics of the machine, therefore, to reduce the curb weight, one of the fuselage 12.7 mm machine guns was usually removed. The increase in the range led to the need to install an autopilot, to facilitate the pilot's work during long flights over the sea. The most notable external change was the reduction in the size of the carburetor air intake tunnel on the top of the bonnet. Despite the fact that the SBD-2 still lacked armor to protect the crew and fuel tanks, the Bureau of Aeronautics adopted the SBD-2 to arm the VS-6 and VB-6 divisions of the aircraft carrier Enterprise and the VS-2 and VB-2 of the aircraft carrier. Lexington.

Squadrons VS -2 and VB-2 based on aircraft carrier Lexington became the first carrier-based aviation divisions to receive Dountless, soon followed by squadrons VS-6 and VB-6 from the aircraft carrier "Enterprise". On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Enterprise was in the Pearl Harbor area returning from the delivery of six Wildcat F4F fighters to Wake Island. At 0630 hours, Admiral Helsey flew eighteen SBD-2 Dountless bombers to survey the area east of the aircraft carrier before approaching Pearl Harbor. Shortly after 08:00 the Dauntlesss, one after the other, entered the area of ​​action of the Japanese aircraft attacking Pearl Harbor. Seven Dountless were shot down or crashed in an emergency landing. However, at least two of the twenty-seven planes lost by the Japanese during the attack must be attributed to the Dountless. As soon as the Dauntless were prepared for a second flight, they set off in search of a Japanese strike force, but their efforts were unsuccessful. Three days later, on Wednesday 10 December, Lieutenant Dickson of VS-6 sank the Japanese submarine 1-70. The first enemy warship sunk by the United States in World War II was sunk by Dountless.

SBD-6 'Dauntless' Specification
Crew 2
Length 10.06m (33 ft 0 in)
Wingspan 12.65m (41 ft 6 in)
Wing area 30.19m2 (325 ft2)
Height 3.94m (12 ft 11 in)
Empty weight 2,964kg (6,335 lb)
Maximum takeoff weight 4,318kg (9,519 lb)
Wright 9-cylinder radial, air cooled R-1820-66 Cyclone
hp/kW 1,350/1007
Speed maximum 410 km/h (255 mph)
at altitude 4267 m (14,000 ft)
Service ceiling 7,680 m (25,200 ft)
Service range 1,244 km (773 miles)
Two forward firing 2 x 12.7 mm (.50 in) machine guns
Two on flexible mounts 7.62 mm (.30 in) machine guns
Under-fuselage mount for up to 726 kg (1,600 lb)
Carried on the wing 295 kg (650 lb)

SBD-1. Battle in the Coral Sea.

Immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the aircraft carriers Enterprise, Lexington and Yorktown carried out hit-and-flight raids for several months to the fortified Japanese positions, widely spread in the Pacific Ocean. While it cannot be said that the Japanese suffered significant damage during these raids, it served as a reminder that the US Navy had not yet left the Pacific Ocean and allowed the Downtless pilots to hone their skills. In the late spring of 1942, American military intelligence received information that the Japanese were about to launch an attack to take Port Moresby in New Guinea; if this operation were successful, then Australia would be under the threat of invasion. The aircraft carriers Enterprise and Lexington were dispatched there in early May to intercept Japanese forces heading for Port Moresby. In the ensuing battle, which became known as the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Downtless blamed the sinking of the Japanese light aircraft carrier Soho on May 7th, and damage to the Sekaku aircraft carrier on May 8th. Although the Lexington was lost, the battle was seen as a tactical success; The US lost more ships, but the Japanese lost more aircraft and pilots. From a strategic point of view, the "Battle of the Coral Sea" was undoubtedly one of the major victories of the American fleet - from that moment the Japanese offensive in the Pacific was stopped. True, the Japanese, leaving the battlefield and were confident that they had managed to sink two American aircraft carriers - counting not only Lexington as dead, but also Yorktown, congratulated themselves on another victory over the American fleet.

Photo Description
Drawing SBD

Drawing SBD


The SBD-1 from VMB-1 at 1940-1941. (1-MB-7, BuNo-1616); (1-MB-4, BuNo-1606)..


The SBD-1 (2-MB-1, BuNo-1597) from VMB-2.


  • "Encyclopedia of military engineering" /Aerospace Publising/
  • "American warplanes of World War II" /under cor. David Donald/
  • "aviAMaster" /#7, 8 Grigoriy Minskiy/