Helldiver Debut at Rabaul

Details of the combat debut of the U.S. Navy’s Curtiss SB2C Helldiver dive bomber at the Battle of Rabaul from Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin, February 1944.

The Navy’s New Dive Bomber Makes Debut In Smash at Rabaul

The Navy’s newest air weapon, the Curtiss Helldiver (SB2C), is in action. With the Vought Corsair (F4U) and Grumman Hellcat (F6F) fighters and the Grumman Avenger (TBF) torpedo bomber, it completes, to date, the Navy’s war-born aerial attack team. All four planes incorporate the lessons of modern warfare taught by battle experience since Pearl Harbor.

A fifth Navy combat plane placed in service since America entered the war is the Ventura (PV) patrol bomber.

Helldivers on a carrier roll forward to take off.

Helldivers on a carrier roll forward to take off. Official U.S. Navy photographs.

In its first combat action, the 11 November raid on Rabaul, the Helldiver–bigger and heavier than any dive bomber previously used by our armed forces–accounted for the bulk of the extensive toll taken of Jap shipping.

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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

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SBD Dauntless Cockpit

Photographs of the Douglas SBD Dauntless cockpit from the Pilot’s Handbook Model SBD-3, Douglas Aircraft, 1942.

Douglas SBD Dauntless Front Cockpit and Instrument Panel

SBD Dauntless Pilot Seat and Cockpit

Loading a Ju 87 Stuka on a Railcar

Diagams showng the proper method of loading the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bomber of a railroad trailer.

Ju 87 Stuka Dive Bomber Fuselage on Train Car for Transport

Verladung von Rumpf, Fahrwerk und Luftschraube

Loading Ju 87 Stuka Dive Bomber on Railroad Car

Verladung von Flügel und Leitwerksteile

Source: Ju 87 B-2 Betriebsanleitung, June 1940.

Ju 87 B-2 Stuka

German Ju 87 B-2 Stuka Dive Bomber Drawing Illustration

Ju 87 B-2. Source: "Ju 87 B-2 Betriebsanleitung"


War Record of the SBD

The story of the SBD Dauntless dive bomber in the Pacific from Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin, (“All Hands Magazine”), September 1944.

War Record of the SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber

Jap-hunting SBDs fly in formation over a carrier of Task Force 58 in the Pacific.

War Record of the SBD

Dauntless Divebomber, Giving Way to Harder-Hitting Successor, Was Spearhead of Our Attacks in the Pacific

The 5,936th and last of a distinguished strain of aircraft–the Navy’s SBD, which is giving way to a faster, long-range divebomber–rolled off the production line of the Douglas Aircraft Company’s plant at El Segundo, Calif., on 21 July.

Its completion closed a chapter in the history of naval aviation that will be discussed as long as men continue to talk about this war’s great battles in the Pacific.

On 7 Dec. 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, a rear-seat gunner in an SBD knocked down a Zero that may have been the first Jap plane destroyed by U.S. aircraft. From then on the story of the SBD, or Douglas Dauntless divebomber, is closely interwoven with the successes of the fleet.

The enemy first felt the real sting of the SBD when Admiral William F. Halsey Jr., USN, took a small task force into the Gilbert and Marshall Islands in February 1942. Flying again from the deck of the USS Enterprise, as they had at Pearl Harbor, SBDs suddenly appeared over the atolls of those islands in the outer ring of the enemy’s defenses, dived to low altitude and dropped their 1,000-pound bombs on ships, hangars, airstrips and buildings.

The following month this same force staged a repeat performance for the benefit of the Japs on Marcus and Wake Islands.

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