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Douglas SBD A-24 "Dauntless

The United States Navy and Marines utilized the Douglas A-24 "Dauntless" dive-bomber's attributes with great success May 7, 1942 at the Battle of Coral Sea sinking the Japanese carrier Shoho. At the Battle of Midway, Admiral Nimtz launched (170) SBD A-24's off the United States carrier USS Yorktown, USS Hornet and the USS Enterprise which sank (4) Japanese Navy aircraft carriers the Akagi, Hiryu, Kaga and the Soryu, turning the battle in the Pacific in favor of the United States . The "Dauntless" also served over the Atlantic Ocean during the North African campaign in "Operation Torch" As a proven winner the "Dauntless" attributes of a Clutch swung bomb launcher that cleared the arc of the dive bomber propeller, plus an enhanced spread of perforated upper and lower air braking dive flaps that enable it to pull out of the dive maneuver.

From Jack Northrop's 1938 BT-1 dive-bomber design , the low wing "Dauntless" continued to be developed by Douglas Aircraft into the A-24. Operated with a crew of 2 seated in a tandem cockpit, it was powered by a single 1,200 hp ,air cooled, radial piston engine. With a maximum air speed of 252 mph and 1,100 to 1,500 mile range (depending on payload and tank configuration.) Payload was a whopping 1,600 lbs of bombs on its belly, with an additional 650 lb's on the wings. Armament was (4) .50 caliber machine guns, (2) in the front nose and (2) manually operated by the rear radioman, both positions possessing illuminated gun sights. Pilots complained of fatigue through noise and vibration during flight. Considered short ranged and unpowered for it's weight to power ratio giving sluggish maneuverability with fair climbing characteristics. Another glitch that plagued the "Dauntless was a finicky bomb armament system dropping bombs prematurely. In operation the "Dauntless" pilot rolled into a 70 degree pitch right over the target, aiming the bomb by flying directly down upon its target. Once released the ability to pull out of the dive was exceptional.



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Christy Butler **** www.shoeboxphotos.net **** **** butts@bcn.net