Just the one story about the SBD didn’t seem like enough. There was so much more to this Pacific legend. So we ginned up a little bit of trivia about that tide-turning dive bomber- the SBD Dauntless.
Here are five things you might not know about the SBD Dauntless:
- During the early 1942 American carrier raid on the Marshall Islands, Japanese bombers were attacking the Enterprise when Aviation Machinist Mate Third Class Bruno Gaido jumped out of his catwalk gunnery station, climbed into the back seat of a parked SBD, picked up one of the bomber’s 30 caliber machine guns, and opened fire on a bomber closing on the carrier. The bomber’s wingtip sliced the tail off the SBD in which Gaido was standing before crashing into the sea. Admiral Halsey promoted Gaido to Aviation Machinist Mate First Class on the spot.
- Between the attack on Pearl Harbor and the end of April 1944, SBDs flew an incredible 1,189,484 operational hours. SBDs flew one quarter of all the operational hours flown from American aircraft carriers. SBDs sent six aircraft carriers, 14 heavy and light cruisers, six destroyers, 15 transports, and countless smaller ships and craft to the bottom- more than any other single carrier-borne type.
- French Navy Dauntlesses were the last SBDs in combat, flying combat sorties from their aircraft carrier Arromanches during their Indochina War. The French Navy finally relieved their Dauntlesses of operational obligations but they operated them as trainers as late as 1953.
- The United Sates Army Air Forces actually operated their A-24 Banshees long enough to re-designate them when the new United Sates Air Force became an independent service branch in 1947. The vagaries of re-designation resulted in the A-24 becoming the F-24 Banshee. Three years later the F-24s were finally withdrawn from service and scrapped.
- The last country to retire their SBDs was Mexico. The Mexican Air Force operated a few of their Dauntlesses until 1959.
Enjoy the sight and sound of one of the few remaining airworthy SBDs in flight.