Our company and website are named after the Dauntless SBD Dauntless dive bomber aircaft of World War II and the brave, some would even say "dauntless" men
who flew and maintained them and other aircraft. Our name is a symbol of respect and thanks to their sacrifice and dedication and to all of those, uniformed
or not, who fight the good fight for a better tomorrow.
The SBD Dauntless was borderline obsolescent at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Nevertheless, it was pressed into service. Perhaps surprisingly, the
"slow but deadly" not only held its own, but became a "hero" airplane of the war, most notably at the Battle of Midway (4-7 June, 1942) during which four
Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk. The Battle of Midway represented the first decisive American victory over the forces of Imperial Japan and, along
with the Battle of Guadalcanal two months later, represented the turning point in the Pacific War. In addition to the bravery of the fighting men involved,
American victory at Midway was due to many of the sort of qualities that we hope to achieve and instill as aviators and aviation educators: planning, patience,
intelligence, communications, expertise, and judgment. Notice that "luck" is not in this list. The implications of some early written works on the battle
and the entertaining but historically imprecise 1976 movie "the Battle of Midway", luck actually played little role in the American victory other than being the
natural outcome of good preparation and superior intelligence.
We certainly don't encourage pilots to be "brave" in the sense of taking foolish or unnecessary risks. Rather, we want you to follow in the footsteps of
the heroic SBD pilots of the battle of Midway whose brave actions were built on a solid foundation of training and expertise, and the good judgment that comes
|The image above shows the sort of dauntless men (of VMSB-231 in this case) and their Dauntless aircraft that we hope to honor through our name.|
As aviation history enthusiasts, we are fortunate to have in our office a very special and unique artifact from the SBD that we'd like to share with you. Below
are some images of our original copy of SBD-3 Pilot's Handbook number 132. While much has changed in the intervening years since this handbook was published,
quite a bit has not, and we hope that our training materials, for example, will have taught pilots to solve aviation problems effectively such that, for example,
deciphering and even using the performance charts in the handbook would not present a particular challenge.
Below are some historical photos of the SBD Dauntless taken during war time. We hope to have taken a selection of photos that shows both man and machine and
the SBD in both victory and defeat. We believe that to best honor the memory of those who fought for freedom, we should, as intelligent people, take
effort to see them as they were and not present some over-glorified caricature. If we do over-lionize the men and events involved, we risk making them
somehow otherworldly. We must remember that the people involved were in one sense great men, but, at the end of the day, they were also in another
just ordinary people like you and we. True respect and honor comes from understanding how ordinary men do great things, even with tools
like the SBD Dauntless which soldiered on in front-line combat in WWII well into 1944 (and then was used by the French in active service in Indochina post-war).
When looking at the photos below, take special care to note the details of the men and the planes. Note the shot up empennage in one of the photos.
The SBD dauntless was a heroic plane and its crews were the vanquishers of their enemies. However, our discussion here would be incomplete
without the discussion of another, in some ways parallel aircraft, the TBD Devastator.
The TBD Devastator torpedo bomber was even more showing its age and limitations at the beginning of the Pacific War
than even the SBD Dauntless was. Pilots were asked to fly TBDs into murderous anti-aircraft fire and fighter screens
while attacking Japanese capital ships with faulty torpedoes at wavetop height at speeds little greater than those of the
single-engine fixed-gear Cessnas of today. It was a suicidal proposition, especially at the Battle of Midway, where the
TBD Devastators were badly mauled. Particularly noteworthy here is the fate suffered by the members of Torpedo Squadron 8
(VT-8) of the USS Hornet. All but one of the men below perished in a single attack on the Japanese carrier force at
Midway. They went in knowing full well the odds against them, and paid the price. However, their sacrifice disrupted Japanese
CAP cycles and stretched Japanese resources sufficiently to help make easier the path for the Dauntless' successful attack shortly thereafter.
Let us never forget the brave men of VT-8 and their sacrifices.
There are a few books and related materials that we highly recommend on the SBD and related topics:
Books / Video:
- Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway by Parshall and Tully
overnight re-wrote the popularly accepted version of the Battle of Midway. Placing more emphasis on Japanese sources than previous authors
had, the authors greatly honor the fighting men by conducting superior research to arrive what by all accounts looks like a revolutionary
and fairly definitive account of the battle.
- The Battle of Midway
by Craig Symonds is a good complement to the above, as it fills in a few gaps specifically from the American side of things, that Parshall and Tully's book
does not cover.
- SBD-3 Dauntless and the Battle of Midway by Spanish airline pilot Daniel Hernandez is
an often-overlooked but generally excellent technical account of the aircraft and its use in the battle.
- The PBS Documentary "Victory in the Pacific" can be viewed for free, online.
Its theme is the end of the war, so well after the SBD's role was done. Nevertheless, you'll be hard pressed to find a more balanced and compelling
tale of the end of the war. Looking from both sides, this video exposes the horror and brutality of a war that we sometimes see as sanitized. It only
takes an hour or two to watch this, and we cannot recommend it highly enough. If PBS takes the video down from home viewing, we suggest buying it. It' that good.
- Flying Tigers,
Dan Ford's tale of the American Volunteer Group in China, also not dealing with the SBD, is an excellent book. Dan bravely wrote this book some years back
before the passage of time had cooled emotions completely, and as such from some quarters this book was viciously attacked because Dan, a dispassionate historian,
attempted to separate fact from fiction in an attempt to honor the AVG "Flying Tigers" by telling their true story as accurately as possible. The takeaway, again,
is that there is no need to sugarcoat the actions of brave men in just causes; telling their stories as they were without exaggerations or distortions--as
Dan and other authors in my list here have done, is the greatest form of veneration possible.
- No Right To Win: A Continuing Dialogue with Veterans of the Battle of Midway
is the compendium output from an online roundtable where participants from throughout the world have gathered in an earnest search for historical accuracy. Internet
collaborative history at its finest!
- A Dawn Like Thunder: The True
Story of Torpedo Squadron Eight. While not quite up to the standard historically of the other works listed here, this nevertheless tells the very important story
of the history and sacrifice of VT-8 alluded to above in more detail than any of the more general works listed here. Highly recommended.
Returning to the present, we are fortunate to still have, at the time of this writing, SBD Dauntlesses still existing not just
in museums, but also flying at airshows and related events. We encourage you to avail yourself of what surely must be increasingly
diminishing opportunities over time to see real warbirds fly. If you have children, take them to airshows and museums and tell them
about the men and their sacrifices. Teach them that war is a necessary action of last resort and that sacrifice for the legitimate
good of other human beings, be it in wartime by those in uniform or otherwise by those not, is the greatest mark of a human being.
Below we present a few images of SBDs preserved today.
If you're interested in flying the actual aircraft but aren't one of the lucky few with access to flying warbirds, there is no better way to
get acquainted with it than with a flight simulator program. In the case of the SBD Dauntless in particular, we have been very fortunate
in that Vertigo Studios have produced an excellent version of the SBD for use with Microsoft Flight Simulator. Some screenshots are below.
Their excellent SBD is available along with other important historical aircraft for purchase via their website. Experimentation with
a computer flight simulator allows in many ways an appreciation for the beauty and difficulty in flying those old aircraft, to say nothing
of fighting in them.
|The images below come from the excellent
SBD Dauntless by Vertigo Studios
which you can purchase for Microsoft Flight Simulator. This is as close as most of us will ever come to actually flying an SBD, and, we must say--for a simulator,
it is very close indeed! Highly recommended.
Finally, we have a small confession. In addition to being pilots and flight instructors, we are borderline maniacal collectors of
diecast aircraft. There's something about holding a well built model and viewing it at natural angles and in different lights that
helps us get in touch with aircraft. In the case of the SBD, we are spoiled for choice as there are some excellent diecast models:
All of the aircraft (and many more) available in numerous liveries. There are many reputable retailers out there on the
web for such things, but the consistently best of them all is
The Flying Mule. We highly recommend that you check out their website,
but, be warned, the diecast aircraft collection hobby is deeply addicting especially for those of us who love airplanes
but lack the time and/or skill to make the plastic kits of our youth!
Note to webmasters: If you wish to link to us from your aviation and/or Avro Arrow related homepage, PLEASE DO!
Our homepage is www.dauntless-soft.com or www.dauntlessaviation.com and this page is www.dauntless-soft.com/SBDDauntlesss.
- Hobbymaster has made an wonderful series of diecast SBDs in 1/72 and 1/32 scale, including 3 that were co-branded with Corgi. We have
several dozen Hobbymaster aircraft, including many SBDs around our office.
- Franklin Mint no longer makes diecast airplanes, but in their day they made a nice series of 1/48 scale SBDs that had considerable
satisfying "heft." Perhaps you can still track down these very nice models on eBay. The 1/48 scale is a particularly good
fit for aircraft about the size of WWII single-engine types such as the SBD.
- Through its sub-brand SkyMax, Hobbymaster also makes an excellent TBD Devastator in 1/72 scale and a mouth-droppingly
awesome SB2C Helldiver (the successor of the SBD) in 1/72. I know we're using quite a few superlatives here, but these
three aircraft happen to be some of the very best that Hobbymaster/Skymax produced.
Thank you for reading!
The Dauntless Aviation Team