Dive bombing requires precise maneuverability and accuracy to fly at steep trajectory and hit a moving target. The Douglas SBD Dauntless was sturdy enough for pilots to dive at a near-vertical 80 degrees. The US Navy’s primary dive-bomber at the war’s start, the bomber earned its reputation—and helped earn victory—at the 1942 Battle of Midway, sinking four Japanese carriers. By some accounts, the Dauntless sank more Japanese ships than any other plane.
SBD-3 Dauntless Dive Bomber
SBD-3, Bureau Number (BuNo) 06508 was built by Douglas Aircraft Company at El Segundo, California, and is a combat veteran of the Guadalcanal Campaign operating from Henderson Field by Marine Scout Bombing Squadrons (VMSB) 141 and 132. In the spring of 1943, BuNo 06508 was assigned to Navy Bombing Squadron 10 aboard the aircraft carrier Enterprise for a short time before being returned to the States to serve as a trainer at Naval Air Station Glenview, Illinois. In November 1944, this aircraft was lost on a training flight in Lake Michigan where it remained until 1990 when it was recovered by the US Navy and restored to its present condition.
Type: Scout Bomber
Date Introduced: 1941
Manufacturer: Douglas Aircraft Company
Number Produced: 580+
Crew: 2 (Pilot, Radioman/Gunner)
Wingspan: 42 feet
Length: 33 feet
Maximum Speed: 250 miles per hour
Cruising Speed: 173 miles per hour
Maximum Range: 950 miles
Engine: Wright R-1820-52 (1,000 hp)
Maximum Bomb Load: 1,000 pounds
Armament: Two .50 caliber and two .30 caliber machine guns
Developed as a strategic bomber in the 1930s, the rugged B-17 was used in every theater in World War II, and became legendary for its ability to sustain heavy damage in battle while maintaining self-sufficient firepower.
The B-25 bomber soldiered in every theater of war, excelling in multiple roles, chiefly as a ground-attack aircraft later in the war. They gained fame in April 1942 in the daring Doolittle Raid on Tokyo.
Despite disappointing action at Midway, the Avenger served as the US Navy’s primary torpedo bomber, effectively interdicting enemy shipping and delivering ordnance on enemy positions throughout the Pacific.
The F4U Corsair entered combat in 1943, and gave Allied naval aviators a winning edge against their opponents. Renowned for its speed, ruggedness, and firepower, the Corsair excelled as both a fighter and an attack aircraft in support of ground forces.
The B-24 Liberator was a powerful symbol of US industrial might, with more than 18,000 produced by the war’s end. Liberators flew faster, higher and farther than the older B-17, thanks to greater fuel capacity and an innovative low-drag wing design.