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SBD Dauntless: Douglas’s US Navy and Marine Corps Dive-Bomber in World War II

29 January 2020

SBD Dauntless: Douglas’s US Navy and Marine Corps Dive-Bomber in World War II, David Doyle, 2019, ISBN 978-0-7643-5846-3, 128 pp.

SBD Dauntless: Douglas’s US Navy and Marine Corps Dive-Bomber in World War II by David Doyle

Venerated aviation author David Doyle uses seven chapters to discover and explain the Dauntless’s variants and characteristics. This marvelous machine came to be at the right place at the right time during World War II. It wasn’t fast but it had range with a respectable bomb load and the twin .50 heavy machine guns in the cowl made it a repeatable adversary against intercepters as well as surface targets. Of course it is the aircraft most often thought of when the Battle of Midway is mentioned and Doyle covers the sole remaining aircraft on display, a Dauntless known as 2106, from that significant battle in detail along with hundreds additional images with insightful captions.

All know the famed speed brakes of the SBD but Doyle informs about their defection angles and notes the share of the perforations is not entirely circular—as well as why they were required.  Other intriguing details abound such as the casting of the wheel hubs and rear machine gun mount differences for only examples among many. The images of the bomb trapeze are enlightening along with so many other items particular to one of Douglas’s most historic though short lived designs.

The Dauntless came into service at the apogee of the era of the dive bomber and retired with the closing of that era as aircraft engines became more powerful and the advent of aerial rocketry. Doyle summarizes the Dauntless in all of its six primary variations flown by the Navy and Marine Corps as well as the Army. Photos of the aircraft in flight, in combat, and statically abound. Photos of the Dauntlesses on museum display are especially pleasing.

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