Douglas Dauntless

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Douglas Dauntless

Another Douglas SBD Dauntless Startup - Engulfed in Smoke & Propwash

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Frequently Asked Questions...

Question about a WW2 aircraft?

My grandfather was a pilot during world war 2. He flew in the pacific theatre from 1942 to around 1945 I believe (based on what my dad told me). He is no longer alive, but we have all of his medals and ribbons. What is a mystery to me, is my dad told me he flew a Douglas Dauntless or something (not sure if that's how you spell it). What kind of airplane is that? Is it a torpedo bomber, fighter plane, or dive bomber? I would ask my dad but he is gone at the moment.

Oh, and he was in the USN (Navy). That is why I am joining the Navy like my dad did. It's a family tradition.
And I tried googling it but I found varied results, so I am not sure what to believe.


It was a US Navy dive bomber. They primarily came in two variants... SBD-3 and SBD-5. The were highly successful at what they were designed to do. I believe President George H.W. Bush flew the Dauntless. They were built by Douglas Aircraft Company, who specialized in sturdy, survivable aircraft. (Merged years later to become McDonnell-Douglas - think F-4 Phantom, F/A-18 Hornet)

The pilots who flew them mostly trained here at Navy Station Great Lakes and practiced carrier landings on Lake Michigan on a converted barge turned into a carrier deck. That is why today there are numerous dive sites here with SBDs on the bottom of Lake Michigan.

There is a wonderful example of one hanging in the main concourse in Chicago at the airport. that one was recovered from the lake off of Waukegan, IL.

The SBDs were replaced later in the war by the Helldivers.