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The Douglas SBD Dauntless is a World War II American naval scout plane and dive bomber that was manufactured by Douglas Aircraft from 1940 through 1944. The SBD (“Scout Bomber Douglas”) was the United States Navy’s main carrier-based scout/dive bomber from mid-1940 through mid-1944. The SBD was also flown by the United States Marine Corps, both from land air bases and aircraft carriers. The SBD is best remembered as the bomber that delivered the fatal blows to the Japanese carriers at the Battle of Midway in June 1942. The type earned its nickname “Slow But Deadly” (from its SBD initials) during this period.
During its combat service, the SBD proved to be an excellent naval scout plane and dive bomber. It possessed long range, good handling characteristics, maneuverability, potent bomb load, great diving characteristics from the perforated dive brakes, good defensive armament, and ruggedness. One land-based variant of the SBD – omitting the arrestor hook — was purpose-built for the U.S. Army Air Forces, as the A-24 Banshee.
The first major use of the SBD in combat was at the Battle of the Coral Sea where SBDs and TBD Devastators sank the Japanese light aircraft carrier Shōhō and damaged the Japanese fleet carrier Shōkaku. SBDs were also used for anti-torpedo combat air patrols (CAP) and these scored several victories against Japanese aircraft trying to attack Lexington and Yorktown.