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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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A-26 Invader Noses

Douglas A-26 Invader Nose Sections from the Pilot Training Manual for the A-26 Invader, Headquarters, AAF, Office of Flying Safety.

A-26 Intruder Nose Section

Nose Section

The A-26 is an extremely versatile airplane. It is designed with two interchangeable nose sections to meet exact tactical requirements.


There are six combinations of armament, as follows:
a. Six .50-cal. machine guns. Crew 2.
b. One 37-mm. cannon and four .50-cal. machine guns. Crew 2.
c. One 37-mm. cannon and two .50-cal. machine guns. Crew 2.
d. Two 37-mm. cannon. Crew 2.
e. One 75-mm. cannon and one 37-mm. cannon. Crew 3.
f. One 75-mm. cannon and two .50-cal. machine guns. Crew 3.


Crew 3
Plexiglas nose.
Fitted with bombsight and controls, and two fixed .50-cal. machine guns.


The Wheels Struck the Water!

A Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber is forced to ditch after a long-range operation, from Naval Aviation News, Aviation Training Division, Office of Chief of Naval Operations and Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, Sept. 15, 1944.

The wheels struck the water!

“Mission successful,” muttered Ensign D as he dodged heavy ack-ack and swung his SBD around for a homeward flight. He and Aircrewman Lawrence Flanagan had destroyed anti-aircraft batteries, fuel dumps and radio stations.

The attack had been made at extreme range, and their fuel supply was dangerously low. As soon as U.S. task force carriers were spotted, four SBD’s immediately landed to refuel before returning to Carrier X.

Ensign D stayed on course, for he anticipated no trouble and he knew his meager supply would just last. However, the unexpected happened. As he approached the carrier for a night landing, he was quickly waved off by the signal officer. The deck was full, and another circle was a real challenge to his gas tank. As he brought his plane in for a second approach, the engine suddenly sputtered–then conked out.

Forced to make a water landing, Ensign D put his plane down in the heavy sea and turbulence of the big ship’s wake. The wheels hit first and flipped the bomber over on its back. Ensign D struggled to get out of his plane cockpit.

Inhaling and swallowing a great deal of water, he fought his way up only to be caught in the bomb rack. Meanwhile Flanagan had extricated himself from the capsized plane, and was swimming on the surface when he noticed the pilot’s dilemma. He made a dive for Ensign D, freed him, and hauled the pilot to the surface. Ensign D owes his life to Aircrewman Flanagan’s heroism.

Aircrewmen have what it takes!

The Wheels Struck the Water, Douglas SBD Dauntless Ditching


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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A-26 Crash Landing Procedure

Instructions for crash landing procedures for the Douglas A-26 Invader from the Pilot Training Manual for the A-26 Invader, Headquarters, AAF, Office of Flying Safety.


Douglas A-26 Invader Crash Landing Procedure


1. Call crew. “Prepare for crash landing.” (Have crew acknowledge.)

2. Switch on emergency IFF radio transmitter.

3. Release parachute by unbuckling.

4. Tighten safety belt and lock shoulder harness.

5. Salvo bombs. Close bomb bay doors.

6. Make a normal approach. Use up to 3/4 flaps. Always make a wheels-up landing.

7. Slide seat back but still keep rudder control. (Place cushion between chest and control column.)

8. Call rear gunner and warn of “final impact.”

9. Have bombardier pull emergency lever to release cockpit hatch when airplane is just off the ground.

10. Mixture controls to IDLE CUT-OFF.

11. Turn battery and master ignition switches to OFF.

12. Tank selector valves to OFF.

13. Exit through upper hatch opening.

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XB-42 Experimental Bomber

A report on the Douglas XB-42 Mixmaster experimental high-speed bomber from the Air Force magazine Impact, Vol. III, No. 8, Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Intelligence, Washington, D.C., August 1945.

XB-42 is First in 400-Mile-per-Hour Class

Although there is no present requirement for the plane pictured here, its approach to the basic problems of bombardment is so unusual that it is felt that IMPACT readers will be interested in hearing about it.

Douglas XB-42 Mixmaster Bomber

Nose view reveals XB-42 as our sleekest bomber, with no turrets or engine nacelles to interrupt streamlining.

The traditional American bomber, the B-17 or B-24, is a large, relatively slow plane capable of carrying a moderate tonnage a long distance. It is less efficient as a freight car than its British counterpart, but it is more heavily armed and armored. This means a loss of range or load, also of speed because added turrets, etc., do not improve streamlining. The B-29, the B-32 and yet-unborn monsters like the B-36 are basically like the B-17. They are faster, better armored, but are still “flying fortresses,” depending on their inherent durability to keep them going. Increased armor or range means more weight and more gas, which means bigger engines, which means bigger wings, which again means more weight, etc. The result of all this is that the plane gets larger and larger as its efficiency improves.

However, the bigger you are, the better target you make. Perhaps we are on the wrong track in bomber design. There is no sign of this yet, the B-29 being well able to take care of itself against present countermeasures. But the development of new anti-bombardment weapons. such as the German X-4 and Viper (IMPACT, Vol. III, No. 7). could conceivably prove its wrong.

XB42 Mixmaster Experimental Bomber

Side view shows counter-rotating pusher props, flexible wing guns. Maximum speed is 410 mph at 27,100 feet.

Hence the B-42, which depends primarily on speed for safety. It is small (35,702-lb. gross weight), is beautifully streamlined, has a laminar-flow wing, with its two engines in the rear so as not to lower the efficiency of this wing. It has no gun turrets, thus saving weight, which is used instead for gas or bombs (it will carry up to four tons internally). The theory behind this is simply that high speeds multiply gunnery problems. Closing speeds between two high-performance aircraft make nose attacks impractical. Deflection shots do not pay off. This leaves level and pursuit curve attacks from the rear. To combat these are remote-controlled flexible guns in the wings, aiming aft. Furthermore, one pass is about all the conventional fighter can make. By the time he is back in position, the B-42 is many miles away. Intercepters are given very little time to reach the B-42’s altitude. In addition, its speed and maneuverabilility permit violent evasive action.

A ground-attack version has fixed nose guns in various combinations ranging all the way from eight .50 caliber guns to one 75-mm cannon and two .50s.