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  • Douglas SBD Dauntless Carrier-Borne Dive Bomber Aircraft

    The SBD Dauntless bomber was the principle Allied dive bomber in the Pacific Theater of Operations.

     Updated: 6/20/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The Douglas DBS Dauntless dive bomber was a key cog in the America Navy war effort throughout the Pacific during World War 2. Though a product of the middle-to-late 1930's, the type continued to soldier on even as more advanced warplanes were appearing out of American factories as the war progressed. Despite its classification and appearance, the SBD Dauntless could more than handle its own against the lightly armored Japanese fighters in the Theater. The Douglas SBD would build for itself a history of resilience despite its inherent limitations in design - a history that very few other aircraft of the war would be able to match - and be responsible for the sinking of thousands of tons of Japanese shipping.

    Design was conventional with the large radial engine mounted in the extreme forward portion of the fuselage, just forward of the cockpit. The glazed cockpit could accommodate two personnel - the pilot in a forward area and the gunner in a rear cockpit, seated back-to-back. The rear cockpit contained a trainable gun position (7.62mm type machine guns) and played a major defensive role in the survival of many an SBD system and crew. The pilot doubled as the bombardier and also manned fixed-forward gun systems which (eventually) would feature two 12.7mm (.50 caliber) heavy machine guns. Wings were of low-wing monoplane types situated under the fuselage and featured the noticeably large perforated dive flaps so consistent with the series. The empennage was a traditional assembly with a single vertical tail surface. The real meat and potatoes for the SBD was in her ability to carried a substantial bomb load that could be supplanted by depth charges if need be. A total of 2,250lb of external ordnance was capable.

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    Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1938
    Type: Carrier-Borne Dive Bomber Aircraft
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): Douglas Aircraft Corporation - USA
    Production Total: 5,936

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 2
    Length: 33.10 feet (10.09 meters)
    Width: 41.54 feet (12.66 meters)
    Height: 13.58 feet (4.14 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 6,404 lb (2,905 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 10,699 lb (4,853 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x Wright R-1820-60 Cyclone air-cooled radial piston engine developing 1,200 horsepower.

    Maximum Speed: 255 mph (410 kph; 221 knots)
    Maximum Range: 1,115 miles (1,795 km)
    Service Ceiling: 25,525 feet (7,780 meters; 4.83 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 1,700 feet-per-minute (518 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    2 x 12.7mm machine guns fixed in wings
    2 x 7.62mm machine guns trainable in rear cockpit position.

    Up to 2,250lbs of bombs or depth charges held externally.

    Global Operators / Customers

    Chile; France; Mexico; Morocco; New Zealand; United Kingdom; United States

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    XBT-1 - Initial Prototype

    XBT-2 - Single Example Prototype fitted with 1,000hp Wright R-1820-32 Cyclone engine.

    XSBD-1 - 1937 Redesignation of XBT series models; improved landing gear systems and vertical tail fin.

    BT-1 - Initial Northrop Prototype Model Designation on which the SBD was based on.

    SBD-1 - Armed with 2 x fixed 7.62mm machine guns and 1 x trainable 7.62mm machine gun; 57 produced.

    SBD-2 - Increased fuel capacity; revised weaponry; 87 produced.

    SBD-3 - Fitted with Wright R-1820-52 powerplant; 584 produced; bulletproof windscreen; self-sealing fuel tanks; increased armor protection for crew; increased fuel capacity; fitted with 2 x 12.7mm machine guns and 2 x trainable 7.62mm machine guns.

    SBD-4 - Improved electronics; 780 produced.

    SBD-5 - Fitted with 1,200hp Wright R-1820-60 powerplant; increased ammunition capacity; 3,025 produced.

    SBD-6 - Fitted with Wright R-1820-66 powerplant; increased fuel capacity; improved throughout; final main SBD production version.

    SBD-1P - Photographic reconnaissance model.

    SBD-2P - Photographic reconnaissance model.

    SBD-3P - Photographic reconnaissance model.

    A-24 "Banshee" - USAAF version of the SBD-3

    A-24A "Banshee" - USAAF Army version of the SBD-4

    A-24B "Banshee" - USAAF Army version of the SBD-5

    DB.Mk I - Fleet Air Arm (FAA - Britain) variant based on the SBD-5.