Douglas Dauntless / Banshee

The Douglas SBD Dauntless is an American naval scout plane and dive bomber that was manufactured during World War II, from 1940 to 1944.

The SBD, also known as the “Scout Bomber Douglas,” served as the primary carrier-based scout/dive bomber for the United States Navy from mid-1940 to mid-1944.

It was also utilized by the United States Marine Corps, both from land air bases and aircraft carriers.

The SBD is most notably recognized for its pivotal role in the Battle of Midway in June 1942, where it delivered the decisive blows to the Japanese carriers.

During this period, the SBD earned the nickname “Slow but Deadly” from its SBD initials, as well as the rarely used accompanying nickname of “Furious D.”

Throughout its combat service, the SBD proved to be an exceptional naval scout plane and dive bomber, possessing long range, good handling characteristics, manoeuvrability, potent bomb load, great diving characteristics from the perforated dive brakes, good defensive armament, and ruggedness.

Furthermore, a land-based variant of the SBD, which omitted the arrestor hook, was specifically designed for the U.S. Army Air Forces and was known as the A-24 Banshee.

The Douglas SBD Dauntless is an American naval scout plane and dive bomber that was manufactured by Douglas Aircraft during World War II, from 1940 to 1944.

The SBD, also known as the “Scout Bomber Douglas,” served as the primary carrier-based scout/dive bomber for the United States Navy from mid-1940 to mid-1944.

It was also utilized by the United States Marine Corps, both from land air bases and aircraft carriers.

The SBD is most notably recognized for its pivotal role in the Battle of Midway in June 1942, where it delivered the decisive blows to the Japanese carriers.

During this period, the SBD earned the nickname “Slow But Deadly” from its SBD initials, as well as the rarely-used accompanying nickname of “Furious D.”

Throughout its combat service, the SBD proved to be an exceptional naval scout plane and dive bomber, possessing long range, good handling characteristics, manoeuvrability, potent bomb load, great diving characteristics from the perforated dive brakes, good defensive armament, and ruggedness.

Furthermore, a land-based variant of the SBD, which omitted the arrestor hook, was specifically designed for the U.S. Army Air Forces and was known as the A-24 Banshee.

The design work for the Northrop BT-1 commenced in 1935.

In 1937, the Northrop Corporation was acquired by Douglas, and the active Northrop projects were continued under the Douglas Aircraft Corporation.
Modifications were ordered in November 1937, resulting in the development of the Northrop BT-2, which served as the basis for the SBD.

The SBD entered service in mid-1939 and was developed by a team of designers led by Ed Heinemann, who considered a development with a 1,000 hp (750 kW) Wright Cyclone engine.

The Douglas El Segundo, California plant was responsible for the development of the plane, and along with the company’s Oklahoma City plant, built almost all the SBDs produced.

In 1940, both the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps placed orders for the new dive bomber, designated the SBD-1 and SBD-2 respectively.

The SBD-1 was delivered to the Marine Corps in late 1940, and the SBD-2 was delivered to the Navy in early 1941, replacing the SBU Corsair and Curtiss SBC Helldiver squadrons on US carriers.

The BT-1 incorporated distinctive perforated split flaps or “dive brakes” to eliminate tail buffeting during diving manoeuvres.

The design opted for structural strength instead of folding wings, which was unusual for carrier aircraft.

The SBD-3, which began manufacture in early 1941, had increased armour, self-sealing fuel tanks, and four machine guns.

The SBD-4 provided a 12-volt (up from 6-volt) electrical system, and a few were converted into SBD-4P reconnaissance aircraft.

The SBD-5, the most produced version, was equipped with a 1,200 hp (890 kW) engine and an increased ammunition supply.

Over 2,400 of these were built, and a few were shipped to the Royal Navy for evaluation.

The SBD saw combat against the Japanese Army and Navy with No. 25 Squadron of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, but the RNZAF soon replaced them with the larger, faster, heavier and land-based Vought F4U Corsairs.

Some SBDs were also flown by the Mexican Armed Forces and also the Free French Air Force used these against the German Heer and Luftwaffe.

The SBD-6, the final version, had more improvements, but its production ended during the summer of 1944.

The U.S. Army Air Force had its own version of the SBD, called the A-24 Banshee, which lacked the tail hook used for carrier landings, and a pneumatic tire replaced the solid tail wheel.

The USAAF used 948 of the 5,937 of the Dauntless were built, and there were three versions of the Banshee (A-24, A-24A and A-24B) flown by the army to a very minor degree in the early stages of the war.

Variants

XBT-2

Prototype

Airframe was a production Northrop BT-1 heavily modified and redesignated as the XBT-2.

Further modified by Douglas as the XSBD-1.

SBD-1

Marine Corps version without self-sealing fuel tanks.

SBD-1P

reconnaissance aircraft, converted from SBD-1s.

SBD-2

Navy version with increased fuel capacity and different armament, no self-sealing fuel tanks, starting in early 1941.

SBD-2P

reconnaissance aircraft, converted from SBD-2s.

SBD-3

Manufactured in early 1941.

This provided increased protection, self-sealing fuel tanks, and four machine guns.

SBD-4

provided a 24-volt (up from 12 volt) electrical system.

In addition, a new propeller and fuel pumps rounded out the improvements over the SBD-3.

SBD-4P

reconnaissance aircraft, converted from SBD-4s.

SBD-5

The most produced version, primarily produced at the Douglas Aircraft plant in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Equipped with a 1,200-hp engine and an increased ammunition supply.

In addition to American service, these saw combat with the Royal New Zealand Air Force, Free French Air Force and the Mexican Air Force.

SBD-5A

as A-24B, for USAAF but delivered to USMC.

SBD-6

The final version, providing more improvements, including a 1,350 hp (1,010 kW) engine,

Production ended in the summer of 1944.

A-24 Banshee

(SBD-3A)

USAAF equivalent of the SBD-3 without arrestor hook.

A-24A Banshee

(SBD-4A)

USAAF equivalent of the SBD-4.

A-24B Banshee

(SBD-5A)

USAAF equivalent of the SBD-5.

Specifications

Crew

2

Length

33 ft 1.25 in (10.0902 m)

Wingspan

41 ft 6.375 in (12.65873 m)

Height

13 ft 7 in (4.14 m)

Wing area

325 sq ft (30.2 m2)

Airfoil

 Root

NACA 2415

Tip

NACA 2407

Empty weight

6,404 lb (2,905 kg)

Gross weight

9,359 lb (4,245 kg)

Max take-off weight

10,700 lb (4,853 kg)

Fuel capacity

260 US gal (220 imp gal; 980 l) in non-metallic self-sealing fuel tanks

Powerplant

1 × Wright R-1820-60 Cyclone 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine,

1,200 hp (890 kW)

Propellers

3-bladed Hamilton-Standard constant-speed propeller

Performance

Maximum speed

255 mph (410 km/h, 222 kn) at 14,000 ft (4,300 m)

Cruise speed

185 mph (298 km/h, 161 kn)

Range

1,115 mi (1,794 km, 969 nmi)

Ferry range

1,565 mi (2,519 km, 1,360 nmi)

Service ceiling

25,530 ft (7,780 m)

Rate of climb

1,700 ft/min (8.6 m/s)

Wing loading

28.8 lb/sq ft (141 kg/m2)

Power/mass

0.128 hp/lb (0.210 kW/kg)

Armament

Guns

2 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) forward-firing synchronized Browning M2 machine guns in engine cowling

2 × 0.30 in (7.62 mm) flexible-mounted Browning M1919 machine guns in rear

Bombs

2,250 lb (1,020 kg) of bombs.

Sources
American Attack Aircraft Since 1926, E R Johnson.
McDonnell Douglas aircraft since 1920: Volume I-René J Francillon.
Navy Air Colors, United States Navy, Marine Corps, And Coast Guard Aircraft Camouflage and Markings, Vol 1, 1911-1945-Thomas E Doll, Berkley R Jackson, William A Riley & Don Greer.
San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive.
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
The Official Monogram US Navy & Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide, Vol 2, 1940·1949,-John M Elliott (Maj USMC Retired).
US Marine Corps Aviation, 75th Year of Naval Aviation, Vol 5.
United States Navy Aircraft Since 1911-Gordon Swanborough & Peter M Bowers.

 

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