Aircraft Spotter Challenge/World War II  

  PLANE 009
Level 3

This plane was the standard ship borne dive-bomber of the US Navy from mid-1940 until November 1943 (when the first operational Curtiss SB2C Helldivers arrived to replace it).  In 1942-43,  at the Battle of the Coral Sea,  in the bitter Guadalcanal campaign and most of all in the crucial Battle of Midway, this aircraft did more than any other aircraft to turn the tide of the Pacific War.

Painting by R.G.Smith


At Midway on 4 June 1942 it wrecked all four Japanese carriers, and later in the battle sank a heavy cruiser and severely damaged another. From 1942 through to 1945,  in addition to its shipboard service, the SBD saw intensive use with the US Marine Corps,  flying from island bases.

In the Guadalcanal Campaign this airplane - operating from US carriers and from Henderson Field on the island of  Guadalcanal itself  -  took a huge toll of Japanese shipping. SBDs sank the carrier Ryujo in the battle of the Eastern Solomons, and damaged three other carriers in the battles of Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz.  In the decisive Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, 12-15 November 1942, SBDs sank the heavy cruiser Kinugasa and, supported by TBD Avengers,  sank nine transports.

It was older and slower than its Japanese opposite number, the Aichi D3A2 "Val" - but the SBD was far more resistant to battle damage, and its flying qualities perfectly suited it to its role.  In particular - as its pilots testified -  it was very steady in a dive.

When the more modern and powerfully-engined Helldiver went into action alongside the SBD  it was soon realized - particularly at the Battle of the Philippine Sea - that the new aircraft was inferior to the this plane.  But the Helldiver was already in large-scale production and it was too late to reverse the decision that it should supplant the this plane in shipboard service.  The SBD was gradually phased out during 1944, and the 20 June 1944 strike against the Japanese Mobile Fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea was therefore its last major action as a carrier-borne aircraft. The SBD nonetheless continued to be used effectively by the Marine Corps right up to the end of hostilities in August 1945, most notably in the Philippines campaign.







Everything there is to know about this plane is in this write up.

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