Dauntless dive bomber was effective in Pacific
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    Cool Dauntless dive bomber was effective in Pacific

    March 28, 2005

    The Lore of the Corps
    Dauntless dive bomber was effective in Pacific

    By Robert F. Dorr
    Special to the Times

    The SBD Dauntless dive bomber was one of the great combat planes of World War II, considered sturdy and reliable by the Navy and Marine crews that flew it in the Pacific.
    “If that old bird hadn’t been built like a battleship, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Bud Page, 81, of Sumter, S.C., who maintained the SBD while he was a gunnery sergeant during World War II. He later served in the Air Force, retiring as a senior master sergeant. He survived a crash while flying the SBD during training at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., in 1943 and later served with a combat squadron in the Pacific.

    Jack Northrop, who eventually worked for Donald Douglas’ southern California aircraft company, designed the Dauntless in 1935 based on his earlier BT-1 while he was working for his own company.

    Douglas Aircraft Co. built 5,936 Dauntless aircraft between 1935 and 1944, though the plane was comparatively outdated when the United States entered World War II.

    In 1941, the SBD-1 was issued to Marine Bombing Squadrons 1 and 2, based at Quantico, Va., and Ewa, Hawaii, respectively. The squadrons were redesignated Marine Scout Bombing Squadrons 132 and 232.

    Among the aircraft destroyed on the ground during the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor were about 20 of VMSB-232’s Dauntless dive bombers. Capt. Richard C. Mangrum, a squadron pilot, was reading the Sunday comics when he looked up to see Japanese bombers hurtling overhead. In the weeks that followed, Mangrum commanded an SBD squadron fighting in the Pacific.

    The Dauntless appeared on aircraft carriers soon afterward. On May 7, 1942, during the Battle of the Coral Sea, Lt. Cmdr. Robert Dixon, commanding officer of Scouting Squadron 2, reported the planes sinking the Japanese carrier Shoho by radioing the message, “Scratch one flat-top.”

    The Dauntless’ shining moment came during the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942, when 54 of the Navy dive bombers engaged the Japanese carrier force that had attacked Pearl Harbor six months earlier. During the battle, Dauntless dive bombers turned the tide of the war by destroying the Japanese ships Akagi, Kaga and Soryu and rendering the carrier Hiryu innocuous.

    In Marine hands, the Dauntless was a familiar sight on Pacific islands, often in battles against Japanese units that were bypassed by ground forces during the island-hopping advance toward Tokyo. The Dauntless was also used by the air forces of France, Mexico, New Zealand and the U.S. Army, which designated the aircraft A-24.

    When he wrote a monograph about the SBD two decades after the war — “The Douglas SBD Dauntless” — aviation writer David Brazelton lamented how quickly the plane faded from the scene.

    “This aeroplane grew old during the war and, by war’s end, was mainly used up,” Brazelton wrote. “So common was the aeroplane in the lives of aviation people and so exhausted was she, that no one thought to preserve her memory and legend by saving some for display.”

    Several Dauntlesses have been recovered and restored, including one in the Marine Corps’ museum holdings at Quantico, Va. Two civilian-owned Dauntless dive bombers are believed to be the only ones in airworthy condition.

    Robert F. Dorr, an Air Force veteran, lives in Oakton, Va. He is the author of books on military topics, including “Chopper,” a history of helicopter pilots. E-mail him at robert.f.dorr@cox.net.


  2. #2
    Marine Family Free Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    South Florida

    Found this photograph

    Douglas SBD Dauntless

    Last edited by Osotogary; 03-07-06 at 10:45 PM.

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