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SBD-3 Flying Characteristics

Basic flying characteristics of the SBD Dauntless from Pilot’s Handbook Model SBD-3, Douglas Aircraft, 1942.

Flying Characteristics

The model SBD-3 airplane is a single engine, low wing, monoplane, designed for dive bombing or scouting operations from either shore stations or aircraft carriers. This airplane performs all ground and flight maneuvers with the normal characteristics of its type. As a land plane, this airplane will take off from the ground or carrier deck with or without the aid of a catapult, and will land on an ordinary landing field with or without landing flaps, or on a carrier deck in an arresting gear. Dive bombing maneuvers may be made with or without the use of the diving flaps.

Douglas SBD Dauntless

Continue reading SBD-3 Flying Characteristics

The Doolittle Raid

Old U.S. Air Force video of the WWII Doolittle Raid in April 1942, when B-25 Mitchell bombers took off from the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet to attack the Japanese islands.


Fire Control

Fore control notes from the September 1944 issue of C.I.C. (Combat Information Center) published by the U.S. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

Fire control notes and comments

fire control notes and comments...

Excerpts from ship reports with comments by the Bureau of Ordnance.


There is no comparison between the Mark 12 and the Mark 4 equipment in the ability to pick up targets at long range. Destroyers of the MAHAN and BUCHANAN types have been picked up consistently and easily in the 25,000 to 30,000 yard range band, in complete darkness, on CIC designation. “The maximum range on a DD recorded to date is 30,000 yards. Larger targets have not been tracked to extreme ranges.

A series 60 sled with radar screen was tracked easily to 20,000 yards. Aircraft are easily tracked to 55,000 yards. A drone was picked up at 36,000 yards over land. Approaching aircraft of combat types are easily detected at 40,000 yards.

The improved performance of the Mark 12 radar over the Mark 4 radar is due to the difference in transmitted peak power, the Mark 12 power being four times that of the Mark 4. This factor alone should increase range performance on targets above the horizon by about 40 per cent. The higher frequency also improves antenna gain.


A considerable amount of drill at picking up planes from search radar designation has been carried out, with extremely encouraging results. The average time to get the director on a low-flying plane at a range of 10 miles is about 25 seconds. That time includes training the director at least 90 degrees.

During a very recent drone firing one director picked up the drone over land at 35,000 yards. The plane had immediately faded on the SK radar, but the Mark 12 got the target, and a good Baker run was eventually fired.

The Mark to true bearing indicator now installed in Mark 37 directors is very helpful in picking up targets from CIC designation.

The pip-matching indication, superimposed oil the long range sweep on the train and elevation scopes was particularly designed to improve target acquisition. This presentation gives the pointer and trainer a complete view of all targets in the radar beam, and enables them to start getting on target before the target pip is notched. When notched, a change to “spot” or “meter” indication for more accurate tracking can be made.


During the night of 21 February 1944, while under plane attack off Saipan, the forward Mark 34 director, equipped with a Mark 8 radar, was able to pick up and track low-flying planes at will. Contacts were made as far out as 14,000 yards, generally between 6,000-8,000 yards, tracked as close as 1,900 yards, and then as far out as 25,000 yards (opening). Naturally, getting “on” was the most difficult problem due to the delay in surface and air search ranges and bearings reaching the directors from the radars through CIC. This lag was greatly reduced by the directors cutting in on the search radar phone circuits.

The ease with which the director crew tracked these low-flying planes offers serious possibilities worth investigating, of using the generated ranges resulting from such tracking in assisting the 40mm and 20mm gun batteries in opening fire.


Single low-flying planes of both twin and single engine type, can be tracked from 15,000 yards on into the ship. The relative bearing and range obtained from the main battery directors is used to get the machine gun battery “on” low-flying night torpedo planes. The Mark 8 radar in some measure fills the need for information on enemy planes when they close within 6,000 to 8,000 yards, data not obtainable from the SK.

In one instance fire was opened at 1,900 yards using this information when it is believed the target would not normally have been seen until the range closed to 1,000 yards.


40-mm Twin Gun Assembly

40-mm Twin Gun Assembly (Source: Naval Ordnance and Gunnery, NAVPERS 16116, Bureau of Naval Personnel, Training Division, May 1944.).


Hellcats Aloft

Chockman frees an F6F preparatory to its rush down flight deck to join other Hellcats already aloft. In operations, teamwork and split-second timing are vital to the success of every mission. (Naval Aviation News, U.S. Navy, Sept. 1944.)

F6F Hellcat

Life on a Raft

Life on a Raft

Answers: 1. 2, 2. 3, 3. 4, 4. 4, 5. 2, 6. 3 (Naval Aviation News, August 1, 1944.)


Identify when Approaching Allied Ships

Identify when Approaching Allied Ships

Note to Pilots: This could be YOU!
Identify when Approaching Allied Ships!

GO AHEAD! Fly over one of our ships without identifying. Test the crew’s quickness on recognition… if you want that plane you’re flying punctured like a hunk of swiss cheese! Then, should you live to add up the count–you undoubtably won’t!–you can flatter the AA crews on how accurate their lead is!

But it’s saner and safer, to identify. Remember, AA crews are plenty yough and trained to shoot. If you approach Allied ships and leave them doubtful as to whether you’re friend or foe, they won’t ask too many questions, wait too long…

Don’t expect crews to take chances. They’ve had ships blown from under them, seen shipmates machine-gunned to death because they were slow to act. And most of the unfortunate cases where friendly planes were shot out of the sky were the fault of pilots who failed to identify their planes as friendly.

So don’t you take chances. Ships will challenge, but don’t wait. It’s the pilot’s responsibility to identify first.

Ships will recognize, but don’t stake your social security on it. They may not be sure, there may be clouds, enemy planes…

In the final analysis, it’s that ship and its big complement against your plane and lonely little you. You’re valuable, but you know which counts more with the Fleet!

RECOMMENDED READING: (1) Recognition and Identification Sense, (2) Identify… or Else! reprint from Naval Aviation News.

Source: Naval Aviation News, August 1, 1944.

5-Inch Naval Gun Turret

Cutaway drawing of the Mark 12 5″/38 caliber U.S. naval gun. (Source: Naval Ordnance and Gunnery, NAVPERS 16116, Bureau of Naval Personnel, Training Division, May 1944.)


Under Two Flags: The USS Stewart


She served the U.S. Navy for 21 years–only to be captured by the Japanese and used against us in World War II.

She started around the world in 1921–and completed the circuit only last month.

Her name belongs to another ship–but she got her hull numbers back at least, and once again flies a U.S. commission pennant.

Destroyer USS Stewart

After service with the Japanese, the USS DD 224 returned to San Francisco, under tow, after completing round-the-world tour started in 1921.

That’s the story of the former USS Stewart, the 1,000-ton, four-pipe DD 224 (not to be confused with USS Stewart, DE 238, which now bears her name). The “RAMP 224″ as her crew calls her, the letters designate “recovered allied military personnel,” reached San Francisco last month in tow. She’ll be on exhibit for awhile and then will be scrapped.

The old Stewart was built in Philadelphia in 1920 and joined the Asiatic Fleet via Suez the next year. She stayed there until World War II, then saw duty with such famous old fighters as the Marblehead during the discouraging days of early 1942. Damaged in a night attack on Jap shipping in Bandoeng Strait, Dutch East Indies, she went into drydock at Surabaya. The dock was not equipped for the four-pipe hull, the ship slipped off her keel-blocks and crashed over on her side. Demolition charges and a Jap bomb, plus scuttling of the dry dock finished her off–or so it was thought. Surabaya fell to the Japs.

Then reports began coming in from far-ranging U. S. patrol fliers who said they’d spotted an American ship deep in Jap-held waters. It was the old Stewart doing a tour of duty for the Mikado. Her two forward stacks had been combined into one raking funnel and a tripod replaced the former pole foremast. But it takes more than that to disguise four-piper lines.

It’s doubtful the Japs got much use out of the Stewart. She’d been used to U.S. Navy pampering and couldn’t take the neglect the Japs dished out, perhaps as a matter of habit or possibly because they just didn’t understand four-pipers. At any rate she was in sorry shape when we found her in Kure Naval Base. An American prize crew of 60 men and three officers went aboard to bring her home and a recommissioning ceremony at Hiro Wan 29 Oct 1945 was conducted by Vice Admiral J. B. Oldendorf, USN, ComBatRon1. She headed for Guam under her own power but 45 months of Jap misuse began to tell. The fuel pumps gave out and refused repair, so she was taken in tow by USS Wesson (DE 184) 50 miles short of Guam. She rode the end of a tow line into San Francisco.

Her executive officer on the long voyage home was Lt. (jg) G. T. Burns, USN, who was a first class machinist’s mate aboard the Stewart when she was abandoned at Surabaya.

Source: All Hands, U.S. Navy, April 1946.

Budd RB Conestoga

The RB-1 Conestoga stainless steel cargo aircraft developed for the U.S. Navy during WWII by the Budd Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Only twenty aircraft were built, and the innovative Conestoga never entered active service. The following article on the Conestoga appeared in Naval Aviation News, June 1944.

Navy Gets Steel Aircraft
Conestoga Can Carry 2 Jeeps

Budd RB Conestoga Stainless Steel Navy Cargo Transport

The Navy has accepted the Budd Conestoga, first large-size airplane of stainless steel construction, and turned the aircraft over to Naval Air Transport Service for cargo transportation. Designated the RB1 flight ship, the Conestoga is the first plane obtained by the Navy which was designed especially for cargo carrying, other Navy cargo planes being adaptations of combat aircraft or passenger transports.

The Conestoga is a high-wing monoplane, 68 ft. long, with 100-ft. wingspread. It is powered by two Pratt & Whitney engines of 1,200 hp. Except for plywood doors and floor, the plane is constructed entirely of stainless steel varying from .008 of an inch upward and is spot welded. Cargo capacity is 10,400 lbs.

The plane can carry one ambulance or two jeeps. It may be fitted with 24 seats or adapted to carry 24 stretchers. Paratroops can be launched simultaneously from doors on both sides of the fuselage while the troops’ supplies are being dropped through the rear.