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Guillow's Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless Item Number: 1003
Wingspan: Blown 94"

[IMAGE In two early U.S. Navy engagements of World War 2, the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway Island, the carrier based Dauntless dive bomber played an historic part in blunting the Japanese offensive that began at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Fulfilling the attack role assigned to it at its conception, the SBD, operating from the decks of the carriers Lexington, Yorktown, Wasp, and Enterprise, mortally damaged the main units of the Japanese carrier fleet and set the stage for the ultimate Allied victory in the Pacific theatre. Not as well known is its impressive record for shooting down enemy aircraft when protecting the U.S. carrier form Japanese air strikes- prowess not expected of a dive-bomber. At war’s end, the claim was made that the Dauntless SBD had sunk more enemy combatant tonnage than all other arms of the service combined.

The Douglas SBD Dauntless was a naval dive bomber made by Douglas during World War II. The SBD was the United States Navy's main dive bomber from mid-1940 until late 1943, when it was largely replaced by the SB2C Helldiver. The aircraft was also operated by the United States Army as the A-24 Banshee.

[IMAGE Although relatively slow and outmoded when it began its combat career, it was rugged and dependable and sank more Japanese shipping than any other aircraft during World War II.

The Northrop BT-1 provided the basis for the SBD, which began manufacture in 1940. Ed Heinemann led a team of designers who considered a development with a 1,000 hp (750 kW) Wright Cyclone powerplant. A year earlier, both the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps had placed orders for the new dive bombers, designated the SBD-1 and SBD-2 (the latter had increased fuel capacity and different armament). The SBD-1 went to the Marine Corps in late 1940, and the SBD-2 went to the Navy in early 1941.

The next version, designated SBD-3, began manufacture in early 1941. It provided increased armor, self-sealing fuel tanks, and four machine guns. The SBD-4 provided a 12 volt (from 6) electrical system, and a few were converted into SBD-4P reconnaissance platforms. Comparison of the XBT-1 and XBT-2 (SBD).

[IMAGE The next (and most produced) variant, the SBD-5, was primarily produced at the Douglas plant at Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was equipped with a 1,200 hp (890 kW) engine and increased ammunition. Over 2,400 were built, and a few were shipped to the Royal Navy for evaluation. In addition to American service, the type saw combat against the Japanese with No. 25 Squadron of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, which soon replaced them with F4U Corsairs, and against the Germans with the Free French Air Force. A few were also sent to Mexico. The final version, the SBD-6, provided more improvements but production ended in summer 1944.

The U.S. Army had its own version of the SBD, known as the A-24 Banshee, which lacked the tail hook used for carrier landings, and a pneumatic tire replaced the solid tail wheel. First assigned to the 27th Bombardment Group (Light) at Hunter Field, Ga., A-24s participated in the Louisiana maneuvers during September 1941. There were three versions of the Banshee (A-24, the A-24A and A-24B) used by the Army in the early stages of the war. The USAAF used 948 of the 5,937 Dauntlesses built.

The United States Army Air Forces sent 52 A-24 Banshees in crates to the Philippine Islands in fall 1941 to equip the 27th Bombardment Group, whose personnel arrived separately. However with the early December attack on Pearl Harbor, these aircraft were diverted to Australia and the 27th BG fought on Bataan as infantry. While in Australia, these aircraft were reassembled for flight to the Philippines, but missing parts including solenoids, trigger motors, and gun mounts delayed shipment. Plagued with mechanical problems the A-24s were diverted to the 91st Bombardment Squadron and designated for assignment to Java instead. Referring to themselves as "Blue Rock Clay Pigeons", the 91st attacked the enemy harbor and airbase at Bali and damaged or sank numerous ships around Java[citation needed]. After the Japanese shot down two A-24s and damaged three so badly they could no longer fly, the 91st received orders to evacuate Java in early March, ending a brief but valiant effort.

[IMAGE The Banshees left in Australia were assigned to the 8th Bombardment Squadron of 3d Bombardment Group, to defend New Guinea. On 26 July 1942, seven A-24s attacked a convoy off Buna, but only one survived: the Japanese shot down five of them and damaged the sixth so badly that it did not make it back to base. Regarded by many pilots as too slow, too short-ranged and too poorly armed, the remaining A-24s were relegated to non-combat missions. In the U.S., the A-24s became training aircraft or towed targets for aerial gunnery training. The more powerful A-24B was used later against the Japanese forces in the Gilbert Islands. U.S. Navy and Marine Corps

U.S. Navy and Marine Corps SBDs saw their first action at Pearl Harbor. A total of 18 SBDs from the carrier USS Enterprise arrived over Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack, and Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6) lost six aircraft, while Bombing Squadron Six (VB-6) lost one. Most Marine SBDs of Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 232 (VMSB-232) were destroyed on the ground at Ewa Mooring Mast Field. On 10 December 1941, Enterprise SBDs sank the Japanese submarine I-70. In February-March 1942, SBDs from the carriers USS Lexington, Yorktown and Enterprise took part in various strikes on Japanese installations in the Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, New Guinea, at Rabaul, on Wake and on Marcus Island. Later, SBDs painted to resemble Japanese aircraft appeared in the John Ford film December 7th (1943).

[IMAGE The type's first major use was in the Battle of the Coral Sea, when SBDs and TBDs sank the Japanese carrier Shoho. SBDs were also used as anti-torpedo combat air patrol (CAP) and scored several times against Japanese aircraft trying to attack Lexington and Yorktown.

Their relatively heavy gun armament - two forward firing .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns and either one or two rear flexible-mount .30 in (7.62 mm) AN/M2 machine guns - was effective against the lightly built Japanese fighters, and many pilot-gunner combinations took an aggressive attitude to fighters which attacked them. One pilot - Stanley "Swede" Vejtasa - was attacked by three Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero fighters but managed to shoot two of them down and cut off the wing of the third in a head-on pass with his wing tip. [N 1]

However, the SBD's most important contribution to the American war effort probably came during the Battle of Midway in early June 1942, when SBD dive bomber attacks sank or fatally damaged all four of the Japanese aircraft carriers, three of them in the space of just six minutes (Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and later in the day Hiryu) as well as heavily damaging two Japanese cruisers (including Mikuma).

[IMAGE At Midway, Marine SBDs were not as effective. One squadron, VMSB-241, operating from Midway Island, was not trained in the "Helldiving" technique; instead, the new pilots resorted to the slower but easier glide bombing technique, which led to heavy losses. The carrier-borne squadrons, on the other hand, were much more effective, combined with their F4F Wildcat fighter escorts. The success of dive bombing was due to two important circumstances: firstly, and most importantly, the Japanese carriers were at their most vulnerable, readying bombers for battle, with full fuel hoses and armed ordnance strewn across their hangar decks. Secondly, the valiant but doomed assault of the TBD squadrons from the American carriers had drawn the Japanese fighter cover away from the dive bombers, thereby allowing the SBDs to attack unhindered. A VB-5 SBD from Yorktown over Wake, early October 1943.

Next, SBDs participated in the Guadalcanal campaign, both from American carriers and Henderson Field on Guadalcanal Island. Dauntlesses contributed to the heavy loss of Japanese shipping during the campaign, including the carrier Ryujo near the Solomon Islands on 24 August, damaging three others during the six-month campaign. SBDs proceeded to sink one cruiser and nine transports during the decisive Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.

During the decisive period of the Pacific Campaign, the SBD's strengths and weaknesses became evident. While the American strength was dive bombing, the Japanese stressed their Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" torpedo bombers, which had caused the bulk of the damage at Pearl Harbor.

[IMAGE In the Atlantic Ocean, the SBD saw action during Operation Torch, the Allied landings in North Africa, in November 1942. The Dauntlesses operated from USS Ranger and two escort carriers. Eleven months later, in Operation Leader, the SBDs saw their European debut when aircraft from Ranger attacked German shipping around Bodø, Norway.

Although it was becoming obsolete by 1941, the SBD was used until 1944, when the Dauntless undertook its last major action during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. A VB-4 SBD-3 near Bodø, Norway, 4 October 1943.

However, some Marine squadrons in the Pacific used Dauntlesses until the end of the war. It had already been replaced by the SB2C Helldiver in the U.S. Navy, much to the dismay of the pilots, many of whom believed the "Slow But Deadly" Dauntless was a better aircraft than the Helldiver, which gained the nicknames "Son of a Bitch 2nd Class" and "The Beast". The Dauntless was one of the most important aircraft in the Pacific Theatre of World War II, sinking more enemy shipping in the Pacific war than any other Allied aircraft. In addition, Barrett Tillman, in his book on the Dauntless, claims that the Dauntless has a "plus" score against enemy aircraft, considered a rare event for a nominal "bomber".

[IMAGE A total of 5,936 SBDs were produced in World War II. When the last SBD rolled off the assembly lines at Douglas Aircraft Company's El Segundo plant on 21 July 1944, it marked the final dive bomber which the Navy was to buy. The Navy placed emphasis on the heavier, faster and longer-range SB2C. From Pearl Harbor until April 1944, SBDs had flown 1,189,473 operational hours, with 25 percent of all operational hours flown off aircraft carriers being in Dauntless aircraft. Its battle record shows that in addition to six Japanese carriers, 14 enemy cruisers had been sunk, along with six destroyers, fifteen transports or cargo ships and scores of various lesser craft.

A handful of A-24 Banshees survived in the USAAF's inventory long enough to be taken over by the United States Air Force when that service became independent of the U.S. Army in 1947. The USAF instituted a new designation system for its aircraft, eliminating the "A-for-Attack" category. Twin-engined "A" types were redesignated as bombers (another Douglas product, the A-26 Invader becoming the B-26) while single-engined "A" aircraft were identified as fighters. As a result, the Banshee became known as the F-24, although the type was retired shortly thereafter in 1950.

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Guillow's Douglas A-24 Banshee Item Number: 1003
Wingspan: 32"

[IMAGE The A-24 Banshee was a USAAF dive bomber very closely based on the Douglas SBD Dauntless, the main US Navy dive bomber during the crucial years of the Second World War in the Pacific. It was one of a number of aircraft ordered by the USAAF in the aftermath of the success of the Stuka during the German blitzkrieg in Poland and France in 1939-40, but was never intended to be a main frontline aircraft. It was to be used until more powerful aircraft, such as the Curtiss A-25 (also based on a Navy dive bomber, the SB2C Helldiver), arrived in sufficient numbers. It was also intended to use the A-24 as a dive bomber trainer.

The A-24 had a short service career. At the outbreak of war the basic A-24 was to equip the 27th Bombardment Group, based in the Philippines. The collapse of the American position on the Philippines saw the aircraft diverted to Australia, where it equipped the 91st and 8th Bombardment Groups. The 91st took its aircraft to the Dutch East Indies, the 8th operated from the north coast of Australia. After suffering heavy losses during the first half of 1942, the A-24 was withdrawn to the training role.

[IMAGE A large number of A-24s were produced for the army. The 168 A-24-DEs were followed by 170 A-24As, based on the SBD-4, which arrived in early 1943. The most numerous variant was the A-24B, based on the SBD-5, of which the army received 615 from the middle of 1943. By this time events had revealed that the dedicated dive bomber was dangerously vulnerable to enemy fighters unless given a dedicated fighter escort. While the Navy continued to use its dive bombers in just that manner, the USAAF (like the RAF) switched to the use of the fighter bomber. Aircraft like the Hawker Typhoon or P-47 Thunderbolt could fly the ground attack missions and hold their own against German or Japanese aircraft.

In 1940, Army planners saw the shape of the war to come in the form of the German blitzkrieg defeat of the western Allies and destruction of France in a six-week campaign. The use of the Stuka as "flying forward artillery" for the armored formations was not lost on George C. Marshall and his staff. How close American participation in the war was no one knew; whatever it was, it was not sufficient time to develop a distinct dive-bomber of their own. The Navy was now taking delivery of the new Douglas dive bomber, and it appeared to easily meet the known specifications for such an airplane. Accordingly, the Army Air Corps obtained a Dauntless and tested it, with the result being an order for 500 de-navalized Dauntlesses, to be known as the A-24A "Banshee."

[IMAGE While several bomb groups were equipped with the A-24 in the next two years, and the subsequent SBD-5 Dauntless was also ordered as the A-24B, the only known combat use of the A-24 occurred in the spring of 1942, when the 3rd Bomb Group arrived in Australia and was thrown into the battle to slow down the Japanese advance through the Dutch East Indies and New Guinea. Unfortunately, the Army fliers had never learned to use the aircraft correctly; the kind of strike they flew was more glide than dive-bombing, little different than what might have been achieved had they been flying P-40s. They were certainly incapable of the kind of close air support of ground troops Marine Corps Dauntless pilots routinely performed. Additionally, the A-24 - like almost all dive-bombers -required a modicum of local air superiority in the form of escorting fighters. By the time the Dauntless became immortal at Midway, its combat career with the Army was over.

There was the problem of what to do with all these dive-bombers coming out of the Douglas factory. They ended up as squadron hacks and target tugs at training fields around the country. This was still underutilization of a combat airplane.

[IMAGE Following the invasion of North Africa and the surrender of the Vichy French forces there, it was decided to re-equip the French Air Force for participation in the coming invasions. As anyone can tell looking at photographs of the American types provided the French prior to the arrival of the P-47 in the fall of 1944, the P-39s and P-40s that equipped French fighter groups was not exactly first-rate - it was a good way to get rid of airplanes that had been supplanted by better designs in the USAAF. The same was true for the Groupes Bombardement, many of which were equipped with the A-24B Banshee. For more than a year after receiving these airplanes, the French crews were able to devote themselves to training - unlike the American Army Air Forces, the French learned to use the little dive bomber correctly, in vertical dives that insured accuracy.

Following the invasion of Southern France in August 1944, the French Air Force returned to metropolitan France. While the Allies drove north up the Rhone Valley to connect up with the forces that broken out of Normandy and go on to confront the main German enemy, the French were left with the responsibility of driving the rest of the Germans out of France. This struggle - fought between September 1944 and the end of the war in May 1945, is little-known outside of France. The Germans were not pushovers and the French armed forces were not that well-equipped and supported. Hitler ordered the German forces holding the Atlantic ports that had been used as U-boat bases to hold their positions and turn them into fortress cities. These ports held out to the final surrender in May.

[IMAGE Among the French Air Force units supporting this struggle was Armee de l'Air d'Liberation Groupe de Chasse-Bombardement 1/18 "Vendee," equipped with 16 A-24Bs. The group provided effective close air support to the Maquis in the plateau region of southwestern France, and undertook bombing missions against the Germans at Bordeaux.

Eventually, in early 1945, the Groupes de Chasse-Bombardement were re-equipped with the P-47D Thunderbolt, capable of carrying a heavier load of bombs and guns than three A-24s combined. The surviving A-24s ended their days at places like Meknes, in Algeria, performing target towing and other utility missions.

The Douglas A-24 Banshee was a WW2 USAAF dive bomber heavily based on the US Navy's Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber. When the Banshee was introduced operationally in 1940, it proved to have an unacceptable rate of attrition in action due to enemy fighters and had to be transferred to a training role in early 1942, it's dive bomber role being taken over by more suitable aircraft such as the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter bomber. A total of 5,936 Douglas A-24 Banshees were produced and it is of note that some remained operational with the Mexican air-force until 1959.

[IMAGE A handful of A-24 Banshees survived in the USAAF's inventory long enough to be taken over by the United States Air Force when that service became independent of the US Army in 1947. The USAF instituted a new designation system for its aircraft, eliminating the "A-for-Attack" category. Twin-engined "A" types were redesignated as bombers (another Douglas product, the A-26 Invader becoming the B-26) while single-engined "A" aircraft were identified as fighters. As a result, the Banshee became known as the F-24, although the type was retired shortly thereafter in 1950.

A total of 5,936 SBDs were produced in World War II. When the last SBD rolled off the assembly lines at Douglas Aircraft Company's El Segundo plant on 21 July 1944, it marked the final dive bomber which the Navy was to buy. The Navy placed emphasis on the heavier, faster and longer-range SB2C. From Pearl Harbor until April 1944, SBD's had flown 1,189,473 operational hours, with 25 percent of all operational hours flown off aircraft carriers being in Dauntless aircraft. Its battle record shows that besides the four Japanese carriers, 14 enemy cruisers have been sunk, six destroyers, 15 transports or cargo ships and scores of various lesser craft.

[IMAGE The Douglas A-24 was the Army's version of the Navy SBD carrier-based dive bomber. It was almost identical to its Navy counterpart, but the Army's A-24 never achieved the degree of success and immortality as did the SBD. Its relative lack of success in combat led to its early withdrawal from operational service and its relegation to training and other support roles.

The US Navy had been a pioneer in the development of dive-bombing techniques as a means of attack enemy shipping. In contrast, the US Army Air Corps had long been committed to strategic bombing, and had almost completely neglected dive bombing. However, the spectacular results obtained by German Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers during the offensives against Poland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Holland and France at the beginning of the Second World War sparked a renewed interest in dive bombing on the part of the USAAC. To explore the possibility of acquiring dive bombers for its own use, in July 1940, the Army borrowed a number of newly-issued Marine Corps SBD-1 Dauntless dive bombers, and had them evaluated by the 24th Bombardment Squadron.

The results of the evaluation were quite favorable, and on September 27, 1940 the War Department ordered 78 examples of the Dauntless under the designation A-24-DE. Although intended for the Army, the aircraft had to be ordered under Navy contracts since the Navy had jurisdiction over the Douglas El Segundo plant. Serials were 41-15746 through -15823.

[IMAGE The A-24 was essentially identical to the Navy SBD-3 but featured Army instrumentation and radio equipment and was fitted with a pneumatic tailwheel rather than the solid rubber tire of the naval version. Like the SBD-3, the A-24 was powered by a 1000 hp Wright R-1820-52 radial and was armed with two fixed forward-firing 0.50-inch machine guns in the engine cowling and a pair of 0.30-inch flexible machine guns on an installation operated by the rear gunner. A swinging bomb cradle with a maximum capacity of 1000 pounds was located underneath the fuselage, and a fixed rack for one 100-pound bomb was mounted underneath each outer wing section.

The first A-24 was delivered to the Army on June 17, 1941. The first operational A-24 unit was the 27th Bombardment Group. It was in the process of been shipped to the Philippines when the war broke out.

[IMAGE The Douglas “Dauntless” was the workhorse for the US Navy during the WWII. This “Slow but Deadly” dive-bomber was the only plane that had fight in every major Pacific conflicts. Although it had been considered obsolete in 1941 already, the Dauntless was used until 1944 and undertook the last major conflict in the Battle of Philippine Sea. A total of 5,936 SBDs were produced in WWII.

In 1940, after the amazing success of the German Stuka dive bombers in Poland, the U.S. Army Air Corps ordered 78 of the U.S. Navy’s Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber, designating it as the A-24. Fifty-four went to Australia, where in 1942 they had a less-than-glorious combat record flying against Japanese targets in Java and New Guinea. The A-24s were regarded as “too slow, too short-ranged, and too poorly armed.” They were relegated to non-combat missions after five of seven airplanes were lost and one was badly damaged on a mission over Buna, New Guinea.

[IMAGE The U.S. Army had its own version of the SBD, known as the A-24 Banshee, which lacked the tail hook used for carrier landings, and a pneumatic tire replaced the solid tail wheel. First assigned to the 27th Bombardment Group (Light) at Hunter Field, Ga., A-24s participated in the Louisiana maneuvers during September 1941. There were three versions of the Banshee (A-24, the A-24A and A-24B) used by the Army in the early stages of the war.[2] The USAAF used 948 of the 5,937 Dauntlesses built.

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