The Dauntless was the standard shipborne dive-bomber of the
US Navy from mid-1940 until November 1943, when the first
Curtiss Helldivers arrived to replace it. The SBD was gradually
phased out during 1944, and the 20 June 1944 strike against the
Japanese Mobile Fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea was
therefore its last major action as a carrier-borne aircraft.
In 1942-43, at the Battle of the Coral Sea, in
the bitter Guadalcanal campaign and most of all in the decisive
Battle of Midway, the Dauntless did more than any other aircraft
to turn the tide of the Pacific War. At Midway on 4 June
1942 it wrecked all four Japanese carriers, and later in the
battle sank a heavy cruiser and severely damaged another.
From 1942 through to 1945, in addition to its shipboard
service, the SBD saw intensive use with the US Marine
Corps, flying from island bases.
It was in the great carrier
battles of the Coral Sea and Midway that the SBD became a legend
when it was credited with severely damaging one carrier and
helping sink another (Shoho) during the former
encounter and sinking four carriers during the latter. The
Midway success not only broke the back of Japanese naval carrier
aviation, but also represented the turning point of the Pacific
campaign. Service feats by the SBDs throughout World War II are
nothing less than amazing - shooting down 138 planes and sinking
300,000 tons of enemy shipping while losing less than 100 to
enemy fire (the lowest loss rate of any aircraft of the entire
Ordered by the Navy in 1939,
the first SBD "Dauntless" dive bombers produced by
Douglas Aircraft Company were delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps
and to carrier units in 1940. Some were also produced for the
Army as the A-24 "Banshee". Of the 5,396 built, only a
few remain today.
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