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History of the Douglas SBD Dauntless

Updated on October 4, 2018
SBD flying over and island.
SBD flying over and island.

The Douglas SBD Dauntless was an American dive bomber in World War II. Initially developed for the US Navy, it was also used by the US Army and called an A-24 Banshee. Almost 6,000 of the SBD's or A-24's were built between the years of 1940 and 1944 by Douglas Aircraft.

Before Pearl Harbor, a few SBD's were sent to the Philippines and eventually Australia, but were inadequately equipped, therefore, proved ineffective on missions. At those stages of the war the SBD's were rarely used, for the objectives intended.

The first time they were really used by the US was during Pearl Harbor, when SBD's from the aircraft carrier Enterprise showed up, but were ineffective against Japanese fighter aircraft. Later, in the Coral Sea it was shown that with a good pilot a SBD could defeat A6M Japanese Zero.

In the Battle of Midway it was SBD's dive bombers that devastated the Japanese Navy, by destroying four of Japan's aircraft carriers. The SBD's were responsible for destroying more enemy ships in the Pacific than any other aircraft. Coupled with F4F Wildcat fighter escorts the SBD's proved very effective against enemy shipping. The SBD Dauntless/ A-24 Banshee's would eventually be replaced by SB2C Helldivers.

The Douglas SBD Dauntless was powered by a Wright R-1820 Radial Engine and had a top speed of over 250 mph. The Douglas SBD Dauntless had a range of over 1,100 miles and a service ceiling of over 25,500 feet.

The Douglas SBD Dauntless was armed with two .50 cal Browning machine guns in the nose and, two .30 caliber Browning machine guns in the tail. The Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber could carry over 2,200 lbs of bombs.

Two Douglas SBD's flying in formation.
Two Douglas SBD's flying in formation.
Closeup of a SBD Dauntless.
Closeup of a SBD Dauntless.
SBD's aboard aircraft carrier.
SBD's aboard aircraft carrier.


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    • profile image

      Ed Hutchinson 

      2 years ago

      My father was stationed aboard the U.S.S. LEXINGTON CV-16 during WWII. HE was a radio operatoer/rear gunner ON A DAUNTLESS SBD-2. HE did not talk much about the WAR. When he did he spoke of the DAUNTLESS as MEAN MACHINE and the LADY LEX AS elegant.

    • rebelogilbert profile image

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      2 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      Great photos, PhoenixV. My father used to work at Douglas Aircraft. I think your hub is amazing.

    • PhoenixV profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the comment.

    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 

      3 years ago from Placentia California

      This brings back memories from when I was a kid. I was very interested in WWII planes. I used to write the various aircraft manufactures and request that they send me photos of their aircraft. The SBD Dauntless was one of my favorites. They were very high quality photos...I wish I still had them.


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