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Mitsubishi Army Type 87 Light Bomber (2MB1)

Mitsubishi Army Type 87 Light Bomber (2MB1)


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Mitsubishi Army Type 87 Light Bomber (2MB1)

The Mitsubishi Army Type 87 Light Bomber (2MB1) was a version of the Navy Type 13 Carrier Attack Aircraft that saw service with the Japanese army early in the conflict in Manchuria.

In 1925 the Japanese army asked Mitsubishi, Nakajima and Kawasaki to design new light bombers. The Nakajima and Kawasaki designs didn't have the required performance. The Mitsubishi Experimental Washi-type Light Bomber (2MB2) was a more successful aircraft, but it was too complex and thus too expensive. All three designs were rejected.

Mitsubishi responded by producing a modified version of their own Navy Type 13 Carrier Attack Aircraft (B1M). This aircraft, which had been designed by Herbert Smith, had first flown in 1923, although the 2MB1 was based on the later Type 13-2. The 2MB1 was a three-bay biplane with a wooden structure and fabric covering. It was similar in size to the Type 13-2, with a similar empty weight but higher loaded weight. It was slower and had less endurance than the navy aircraft, but could carry a similar payload. The 2MB1 differed from the Type 13 in having no dihedral on the upper wing, carrying a crew of two instead of three and using a Hispano-Suiza engine instead of the Napier Lion used on the Type 13. The 2MB1 was slower and could carry a smaller payload that the Washi-type bomber, but it was easier and cheaper to produce.

The 2MB1 was accepted by the Japanese Army and entered service as the Army Type 87 Light Bomber. A total of 48 were built between 1926 and 1929, but production stopped after the introduction of the Kawasaki Type 88 Light Bomber and Kawasaki Type 88 Reconnaissance Aircraft.

The Army Type 87 Light Bomber was in service when fighting broke out in Manchuria. They were used in the ground attack role, supporting the army, but were soon replaced by the two Kawasaki designs.

Engine: Mitsubishi-Hispano-Suiza twelve cylinder vee water-cooled engine
Power: 450-600hp
Crew: 2
Span: 48ft 6.5in
Length: 32ft 9.5in
Height: 11ft 11in
Empty weight: 3,968lb
Loaded weight: 7,275lb
Max speed: 115mph at sea level
Climb Rate: 87mph
Service ceiling: 14,025ft
Endurance: 3 hours
Armament: Four 7.7mm machine guns - two fixed forward firing, one flexibly mounted dorsal gun and one flexibly mounted ventral gun
Bomb load: 1,102lb

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Mitsubishi 2MB2

Mitsubishi 2MB2 atau Experimental Washi-type Light Bomber adalah biplane bermesin tunggal prototipe Jepang bomber ringan dari tahun 1920-an. Sebuah contoh tunggal dibangun untuk Tentara Kekaisaran Jepang, tetapi tidak ada produksi followed.

Prototipe bomber, yang dikenal sebagai 2MB2, atau Experimental Washi-type Light Bomber (Washi - Eagle), selesai pada Desember 1925. Sementara itu ditunjukkan kinerja yang baik, dan dinilai sebagai unggul proposal dari Kawasaki (versi modifikasi dari Dornier Do C) dan Nakajima (Breguet 19) oleh evaluator Angkatan Darat, itu dianggap terlalu mahal untuk membangun karena struktur yang kompleks, dan juga ditolak. Tentara Jepang bukannya mengadopsi versi modifikasi dari Mitsubishi Navy Type 13 Carrier Attack Aircraft sebagai Army Type 87 Light Bomber (perusahaan penunjukan 2MB1), meskipun kinerja yang lebih miskin dan bombload.


World War II Database


ww2dbase In 1925 the Imperial Japanese Army rejected Mitsubishi's experimental 2MB2 Washi two-seat light bomber designed by Alexander Baumann, in favour of Herbert Smith's more conventional 2MB1 design. The 2MB1, which entered service in 1927 under the designation Army Type 87 Light Bomber, was a large two-seat biplane with a wide-track divided landing gear.

ww2dbase Forty-eight aircraft were built for the IJA, each powered by a 450-hp Hispano-Suiza engine which gave a maximum speed of 115 mph. Defensive Armament consisted of a single fixed forward-firing 7.7mm machine gun, plus twin guns of a similar calibre on a ring mounting in the rear fuselage for the observer. In addition provision was made for a fourth gun firing through a ventral trap-door.

ww2dbase The 2MB1 biplanes participated in ground support roles in northeastern China in the region known as Manchuria from late 1931 until early 1932, but by the mid-1930s, they were considered obsolete for further front-line service and relegated to a training duties for the remainder of their service life.

ww2dbase Sources:
Wikipedia
World Aircraft Information Files 901/29

Last Major Revision: Dec 2011

2MB1

MachineryOne Hispano-Suiza engine rated at 450hp
Armament1x7.7mm forward machine gun, 1x7.7mm ventral machine gun, 2x7.7mm rear ring-mounted machine guns, 500kg of bombs
Crew2
Span14.80 m
Length10.00 m
Height3.63 m
Wing Area60.00 m²
Weight, Empty1,800 kg
Weight, Maximum3,300 kg
Speed, Maximum185 km/h

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Bill says:
7 Jan 2014 06:54:55 PM

The 2MB1 was a modified version of the Imperial Navy Type 13 Carrier Attack Bomber. This design was accepted by the Imperial Army as the Type 89 light bomber crewed by pilot and observer/gunner.

The type 89 was a large two-seat single-engine biplane with wide track undercarriage built from wood and fabric covered the type 89 had good flying and control characteristics. Assigned to
army bombing units and saw service in China flying
support for army ground troops.
During service in China, it was becoming obsolete and side-lined to training units. Total production
48 aircraft built between 1928 to 1929 surviving
aircraft were used as hacks or training ground crews. By 1941 the 2MB1 was withdrawn from service
as obsolete and saw no action during the Pacific war.
The 2MB1 was armed with 2 x fixed forward firing 7.7mm machine guns, 1 x flexible rear mounted 7.7mm machine gun for the gunner, 1 x 7.7mm in a ventral position. Bomb load 500kg / 1,102lb of bombs. File photo taken from Japanese Aircraft 1910-1941 by Robert C. Mikesh & Shorzoe Abe.

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.


Mitsubishi Ki-30 (Ann)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 09/23/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

Mitsubishi played a prominent role as a primary defense contractor for the Empire of Japan during World War 2. To fulfill an Imperial Japanese Army Air Force (IJAAF) charge for a light bomber to succeed the outmoded Kawasaki Ki-3 biplane series, Mitsubishi squared off against its rival in Kawasaki when developing an all-modern design beginning in 1936. Each company was called to provide two viable prototypes by the end of the year in which the prototypes would have to fulfill very specific program goals including a maximum speed of 250 miles per hour and the ability to operate without restrictions up to 13,000 feet. Three aero engines - one from Mitsubishi, another from Nakajima and a third from Kawasaki - were selected as potential powerplants for the new aircraft.

In the coming year, Mitsubishi was able to unveil their submission which first took to the skies on February 28th, 1937 while fitted with a Mitsubishi Ha-6 series radial piston engine. A second prototype, this fitted with a Nakajima Ha-5 engine, proved the most promising of the two designs when trialed and earned Mitsubishi the production order. The Japanese Army required sixteen initial evaluation models and these were then thoroughly tested beginning January of 1938. Formal approval of the type followed in March. To Mitsubishi, the model was recognized as the "Ki-30" while the IJAAF assigned it the more formal name of "Army Type 97 Light Bomber". During World War 2, the Allies gave the aircraft the codename of "Ann".

Outwardly, the Ki-30 was a conventional aircraft design for the period. The vehicle featured a standard operating crew of two made up of the pilot and bombardier/radio-operator/rear gunner seated in tandem under a long-running "greenhouse" style framed canopy. The large radial pistol engine was fitted to a forward compartment and powered a three-bladed propeller assembly behind a rounded spinner. Wings were mid-mounted appendages along the rounded fuselage sides with an internal bomb bay featured under the fuselage. While the original prototype sported a retractable undercarriage, finalized Ki-30s were fielded with fixed spatted (shrouded) legs when it was found that the retractable versions offered little performance gain and complicated production and maintenance. Each leg held a single wheel with a tail wheel fitted at the rear of the fuselage. The empennage was traditional with a single vertical tail fin and a pair of low-set horizontal planes. Power was served through the Nakajima Ha-5-kai series 14-cylinder, double-row, air-cooled, radial piston engine developing 950 horsepower. The Ha-5 was Japan's first twin-row radial engine fitted to an aircraft. The powerplant allowed for a top listed speed of 263 miles per hour with a cruise speed of 236 miles per hour. The maximum service ceiling was 28,100 feet with optimal performance in the required 6,500 foot to 13,000 foot altitude range. On internal fuel stores, the aircraft managed an operational range out to 1,060 miles. Self defense was through 1 x 7.7mm Type 89 machine gun fitted to the wing in a fixed, forward-firing position and 1 x 7.7mm Type 89 machine gun on a trainable mounting at the rear cockpit managed by the rear crewman. The aircraft was cleared to carry up to 880lbs of internal stores.

One in service, the Ki-30 formed the No. 82 and 87 Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai and No. 6, 16, 31, 32, 35 and 90 Hiko Sentai aircraft groups of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. Their baptism of fire proved to be during the Second Sino-Japanese War ongoing between Japan and China since 1931. The Ki-30 made its debut in the early portion of 1938. There, against a limited foe, the type proved an excellent light bombing platform and certainly made itself a viable tactical tool in the Japanese Army arsenal - particularly when under the protection of Japanese Army fighters. As the standalone attack craft, the Ki-30 held limited capabilities and armament which would make it fodder to a more determined foe. With Japanese expansion in the Pacific continuing into 1941, the Ki-30 remained in service while the Japanese military held the initiative through land, sea and air. However, its fortunes turned for the worse when the Imperial Japanese Navy headed the surprise attack of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to officially involve the United States in World War 2.

The Ki-30 proved serviceable in the months that followed the attack but it was quickly regressing into an obsolete design. When American engineering, tactics and training finally caught up to the war effort, the Ki-30 was no longer deemed a useable frontline implement - advanced Allied fighters could engage Ki-30s with ease particularly when IJA flights were left without fighter protection. Losses grew to unacceptable levels which forced the hand of the IJAAF to reduce frontline Ki-30 operations. Instead, the stock of aircraft were used as trainers where they served out the rest of their days. The Ki-30 was formally withdrawn from frontline service by the beginning of 1943. It was utilized briefly during the kamikaze suicide attacks period during the final defense of Japan and its holdings, bringing an end to the tenure of the Ki-30 as a conventional bombing aircraft.

Beyond its use by the Japanese Army in World War 2, the Ki-30 series was also in play with the Royal Thai Air Force when it went to war against the French beginning in January of 1941. The French-Thai War lasted from October 1940 into May of 1941 before ending in a ceasefire (arranged by the Japanese). Thailand received several territories from the French as part of the cease fire. Considering France's weakened position in Europe following the German conquest, the nation was in no position to defend its colonial interests half a world away.

Production of Ki-30 aircraft spanned from 1938 until 1941 to which 704 total units were delivered. No known variants were listed. Post-war operators included the Chinese Air Force and Indonesian Air Force, both operating the type in relatively limited quantities.


World War II Database


ww2dbase The B1M biplane torpedo bombers were employed by the Japanese Navy as the Navy Type 13 Carrier-borne Attack Aircraft. Within Mitsubishi, the various variants of the B1M design were also known as 2MT1 (B1M1), 2MT2 (B1M1), 2MT3 (B1M1), 3MT1 (B1M2), and 3MT2 (B1M3). British aircraft engineer Herbert Smith played a key role in the design's development. They first took flight in 1923 and entered service in 1924. In 1929, a number of surplus B1M aircraft, modified with enclosed cabins, were sold into the civilian market with new designation T-1.2. 32 B1M torpedo bombers participated in the First Battle of Shanghai in 1932 as members of the air groups aboard carrier Kaga and Hosho. A small number of them were also used by the Japanese Army under the designation Army Type 87 Light Bomber. A total of 443 B1M aircraft were built by Mitsubishi and the Hiro Naval Arsenal in Kure, Japan.

ww2dbase Source: Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Jan 2012

2MT2

MachineryOne Napier Lion 12-cyl broad arrow engine rated at 500hp
Armament2x7.7mm forward machine guns, 2x7.7mm rear flexible machine guns, 1x18in torpedo or 2x250kg bombs
Crew2
Span14.77 m
Length9.77 m
Height3.50 m
Wing Area59.00 m²
Weight, Empty1,442 kg
Weight, Maximum2,697 kg
Speed, Maximum210 km/h
Service Ceiling4,500 m

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Weapons and equipment

    35 mm twin autocannon capable of firing a variety of shells including high explosive, incendiary, semi-armour piercing and anti-missile rounds that fire 152 heavy tungsten metal sub-projectiles as well as tracer rounds for poor visibility conditions.
  • Two Smoke Grenade Dischargers, each carrying three smoke grenades for a grand total of six.
  • Land speed of 53 km/h (33 mph).
  • Armor composed of steel and other classified material.
  • Operational range of 300 km (190 mi).
  • Equipped with a radar to detect aerial targets and threats.

1. B-17 Flying Fortress (US)

Boeing B-17

During the first half of the 20th Century, the US didn&rsquot have a dedicated Airforce arm, instead the air force was part of the US Army Air Forces. The B-17 was arguable the most successful bomber during WWII. It was developed by Boeing for the US Army Air Forces during the 1930s when a need for modern bombers was felt by the leadership. It was the first quad-engine long range bomber the world had seen and was so effective that it was developed throughout the war.

There was an initial contract for 200 bombers, however this changed as soon as its strength in strategic bombing was found. The bomber wasn&rsquot made just for dropping bombs but was designed in a manner that it would be able to protect itself from enemy aircrafts. It had 8 gun positions along with 14 heavy machine guns, operated by a crew of 10 people. It could carry 5 tons of bombs deep inside enemy territory and cruise at 406 km/h.

After the war, the Flying Fortress was used by many countries who managed to capture it, as inspiration for their own bombers.


The Avro Lancaster was the first truly successful heavy bomber of the second world war. Its contemporaries in RAF service were the Short Stirling and the Handley Page Halifax. The latter was good, but the Stirling fell a bit short of expectations. The Lancaster though, powered by Rolls Royce Merlins, could take the largest bombs the RAF used and it was an incredibly successful aircraft.

What has really made the IL-2 Sturmovik famous was the subsequent release of flight simulators, some of the best ever made for PC. But the aircraft itself was incredibly successful as well. A ground attack aircraft and tankbuster, over 42,000 were built which is the largest production run for any aircraft from World War II. The Germans called the aircraft “The Black Death”, and it was instrumental in helping defend Stalingrad.


Dauntless Forever: The Dive Bomber That Changed the Course of World War II

The Lone Star Flight Museum’s Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless flies near Galveston, Texas, in 2015. Built in 1942 as an A-24B, the museum’s dive bomber was returned to flight in 1997 after a 12,000-hour restoration.

The “slow but deadly” Douglas SBD dive bomber employed 1930s technology and tactics to turn the tide in the Pacific War

Name the most effective American bombers of World War II and you’ll certainly come up with the B-17, B-24 and B-29, maybe the twin-engine B-25, but how many will think to include the little Douglas SBD Dauntless on the list? The Dauntless dive bomber flew almost entirely over the Pacific, and there it did more to win the war than any other bomber type, even including the Superfort’s two atom bomb missions. Yet of the 35 U.S. types that flew major combat in WWII, none was as old-fashioned and low-tech as the SBD.

Show someone who isn’t an aviation fan photos of a Dauntless and a North American AT-6 trainer, which first flew in 1935, and they won’t be able to tell the difference. The two airplanes are nearly identical in size, shape and detail. With a wingspan half an inch narrower than the AT-6’s, the SBD-5 had exactly twice the trainer’s horsepower and only moderately better performance—40 mph more cruise speed, a 1,300-foot higher ceiling, 500 feet per minute better rate of climb—but the extra grunt gave it the ability to typically carry a 1,200-pound bombload, including a ship-killing half-tonner under the fuselage centerline.

With those bombs, SBDs sank five of Japan’s eight fleet aircraft carriers and a sixth light carrier. The Dauntless played a major role in reducing Japan’s cadre of world-class navy pilots to a bunch of low-time novices left to fling their airplanes and bodies at American ships as kamikazes.


Ed Heinemann’s 1936 Northrop XBT-1 (top) handled poorly, but his Douglas XBT-2 (above) fixed many of its problems and led directly to the SBD. (U.S. Navy)

The SBD started out as a Northrop, not a Douglas. Its designer, Ed Heinemann, worked for Jack Northrop, who had developed the sleek, precedential Alpha, Beta and Gamma mailplanes of the late 1920s and early ’30s. Northrop was already producing for the Air Corps the pre-SBD, Gamma-based A-17A dive bomber. Building on this substantial foundation, Heinemann initially came up with the ill-handling Northrop XBT-1 dive bomber of 1936. By the time Donald Douglas took over the Northrop company, Heinemann had fixed its failings and developed the much-improved XBT-2, the direct forerunner of the Dauntless.

The XBT-2 got letterbox wing slots—not leading-edge slots but fixed flow-throughs well aft of the leading edge, mid-chord directly ahead of the ailerons. These slots kept the airflow attached and cured the XBT-1’s nasty stall characteristics. They also helped to create the outstanding lateral-control handling qualities that would make the SBD so effective at precisely altering its aim during a near-vertical dive, as well as its docile behavior during carrier landings. One of Heinemann’s most important accomplishments toward perfecting the Dauntless design was its beautifully balanced controls. When properly trimmed, an SBD’s solid and steady dive, responsive to minor adjustments in every direction, made it a remarkably stable and accurate weapons platform.

Heinemann was one of the most effective warplane designers of the 1940s through the 1960s. In addition to the SBD, he was responsible for the Douglas A-20 and A-26 attack bombers, the AD-1 Skyraider, A3D Skywarrior (the “Whale,” to this day the heaviest aircraft ever produced for routine carrier use) and the A-4 Skyhawk. He also oversaw the creation of the F-16 Viper when he ultimately became vice president of engineering at General Dynamics in the early 1960s.

Heinemann was busy enough with the SBD that he had nothing to do with the clumsy Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo bomber, contemptuously nicknamed the “Torpecker.” Its main contribution to the war was to distract the Japanese during the Battle of Midway with its fruitless low-level attacks while SBDs dove on the carriers from above. During one Midway mission, 41 Devastators attacked the Japanese fleet. Thirty-five were shot down and not one scored a successful torpedo hit. (Admittedly, blame had to be shared with their terrible Mark 13 torpedoes, which rarely ran true or exploded on impact.) Meanwhile, SBDs fatally damaged all four Japanese carriers participating in the June 4-5, 1942, battle.

A problem with early fixed-gear dive bombers had been that centerline bombs tended to bobble around in the airstream and bounce off the landing gear immediately after release. (It might seem that dropping a bomb through the prop disc would be a greater problem, but that would have required a steeper dive than what was then being achieved.) The solution was bomb displacement gear, usually called a bomb crutch or yoke—a simple device that swung the released bomb through a 90-degree arc that put it well away from the fuselage before it was fully dropped. Heinemann fitted the fixed-gear Northrop XBT-1 with a bomb yoke and retained it for the Dauntless, which could actually dive steeply enough to put its bomb through the prop.


Crewmen load a 500-pound bomb onto an SBD aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise on August 7, 1942, the first day of strikes against Guadalcanal and Tulagi. (Naval History and Heritage Command)

Despite its antediluvian appearance and low-tech approach, the SBD was slow to achieve squadron service. The first two versions, the SBD-1 and -2, weren’t even war-worthy, since they had neither armor nor self-sealing fuel tanks. The combat-ready SBD-3, the “Speedy Three,” entered service at roughly the same time as the advanced Lockheed P-38 Lightning.

The SBD started its war in the Pacific right on time—on the morning of December 7, 1941—but it was an inauspicious debut. Seven Dauntlesses were shot down or crashed and more were destroyed on the ground, totaling about two dozen lost. Three days later, however, an SBD from the carrier Enterprise sank the submarine I-70 north of Hawaii, scoring the first Japanese fleet sub of the war.

Another early action in which an SBD played a part was Jimmy Doolittle’s April 1942 Tokyo Raid. In its S-for-scouting role, a Dauntless dis­covered the Japanese picket ship that forced the early launch of Doolittle’s bombers. Though he knew the small boat had spotted him, the SBD pilot was unable to break radio silence and had to fly back to Doolittle’s task force and drop a weighted message on Enterprise’s flight deck.


SBD-3s on Enterprise accompany the carrier Hornet and its B-25s during the April 1942 Doolittle Raid. (Library of Congress)

The SBD-4 gained a 24-volt electrical system, a wider-chord wing with more rounded tips and a Hamilton Standard hydromatic prop. But the SBD-5 became the go-to Dauntless, with 1,200 horsepower rather than the earlier 1,000. An equally important upgrade was a reflector bombsight in place of the previous three-power telescope. The tube-with-an-eyepiece sight was prone to fogging as a Dauntless dove from 15,000 feet through increasingly warm, humid Pacific air, as was the windshield, which in the SBD-5 got a demisting heater. The SBD-6 gained a further 150 hp but was already being replaced by the unloved Curtiss SB2C Helldiver. (One carrier skipper, Captain Joseph “Jocko” Clark of USS Yorktown, refused to allow Helldivers aboard his ship. He demanded SBDs.)

The SBD’s most recognizable feature was its perforated flaps, riddled with 318 precisely tapered and flanged, slightly ovalized three-inch holes. The modification had been suggested by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics when the early XBT-1 prototype revealed serious tail buffeting during dives. The outer horizontal stabilizer reportedly flapped through a two-foot arc, and Heinemann himself, riding as a backseat observer, admitted that it “scared the hell out of me.” The shakes were caused by turbulent vortices tumbling off the flaps, and the holes allowed a carefully calculated amount of air to feed straight aft while the flaps retained the ability to hold the airplane at a safe dive speed.


A Dauntless lands aboard the escort carrier Santee. (U.S. Navy/Interim Archives/Getty Images)

There were two sets of Dauntless flaps: conventional split flaps that stretched below the wing trailing edge and under the fuselage, and dive flaps, which deployed upward above each wing’s trailing edge. All were perforated. For takeoff and landing, the lower flaps were set. They were also used for diving, but with the additional drag of the upper flaps. The dive flaps were powerful enough that the airplane couldn’t maintain level flight, even under full power, while they were deployed. It was therefore critical that pilots begin retracting the slow-acting hydraulic flaps just before pullout from a dive.

One feature the Dauntless lacked was folding wings, considered indispensable for parking on carriers. But Ed Heinemann wanted the strongest possible wings for an SBD’s typical 5G+ pullouts. No hinges for him. A novel solution to the parking problem was troughs just wide enough for SBD tailwheels, extending out laterally from a carrier’s deck so that a row of Dauntlesses could be parked with their main gear just at the deck’s edge.

The SBD was surprisingly effective in air-to-air combat. During the May 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea, Dauntlesses shot down more Japanese aircraft—35—than did the accompanying Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters. Throughout the Pacific campaign, SBDs claimed a total of 138 enemy airplanes while themselves falling fewer than 80 times (record-keeping was inexact) to Japanese fighters.

One SBD pilot, Lieutenant Stanley “Swede” Vejtasa, attacked seven Zeros and shot down three of them in a single mission during the Coral Sea battle the previous day he had participated in the sinking of the Japanese light carrier Shōhō. Cook Cleland, later famous as a Thompson Trophy racer, also was credited with several SBD victories.


Left: The pilot’s “office” of the SBD-6 in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.. Right: The rear-seater manned a twin .30-caliber machine gun. (Photos: National Air and Space Museum/Eric Long and Mark Avino)

A Dauntless pilot controlled a pair of cowl-mounted .50-caliber guns firing through the prop arc, and the SBD was maneuverable enough to make them an occasional threat. But the most effective guns were the rear-seater’s flexible twin .30s. (Early SBDs had just one tail gun, but it was quickly found to be impotent.) The most notorious Dauntless gunner was Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, who had been a Marine intelligence officer. McCarthy was savvy enough to understand that a combat record, no matter how bogus, would someday play well with voters, so he cadged the occasional local ride in a Dauntless and later parlayed “Tailgunner Joe” into an effective campaign slogan. Never mentioned was the fact that he had once holed his own airplane’s vertical stabilizer with an unskilled burst.

The gunner was also an SBD’s radio operator, and his seat swiveled so he could do double duty. He also had a set of rudimentary flight controls—airspeed indicator and altimeter, throttle and a control stick that could be unclipped from the left cockpit sidewall and dropped into a socket on the floor. He had no way to put the landing gear or tailhook down, but he could at least take a wounded pilot back to the ship and ditch near it.

The Army got its own version of the SBD, the A-24 Banshee, though it was largely unloved. Besotted with their heavy bombers and grand strategic bombing plans, Army Air Forces leaders had no use for dive bombing. They believed intentionally diving a bomber straight toward anti-aircraft defenses at danger-close range was simply a way to put aircrews in harm’s way. They couldn’t make the A-24 work as a level or glide bomber, so they used it as a trainer and utility aircraft.

This despite the fact that the AAF was well aware of the Junkers Ju-87 Stuka’s success against ground targets, particularly armor, during the German army’s 1939-40 Blitzkrieg and the ill-advised Soviet campaign. If there was one airplane that seriously challenged the SBD for the title of world’s best dive bomber, it was the Stuka. But the U.S. Army had few tanks itself at the beginning of WWII and little experience in countering them. During the two prewar decades during which the Navy had practiced and perfected dive bombing, the Army had studiously ignored the tactic.

In fact, AAF leader Henry “Hap” Arnold tried to cancel the initial order for 16 A-24s, claiming the Army had already tested the dive-bombing concept and found it lacking, largely due to a dive bomber’s vulnerability to enemy fighters. Arnold was overruled by General George C. Marshall.


U.S. Navy SBD-3s patrol off Midway Atoll, where on June 4, 1942, Dauntlesses changed the course of the Pacific naval war in four dramatic minutes. (Frank Scherschel/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

Nonetheless, the AAF taught its A-24 pilots to bomb in a 30-degree “dive,” which was actually a steep glide. The maximum the Army would allow was 45 degrees, which was still glide bombing. Some benighted Army pilots had the brass to call the Banshee “a lousy dive bomber.”

How useful might Army dive bombers have been? One example: At the end of the 1943 Battle of Sicily, German and Italian troops fled across the narrow Strait of Messina to the Italian mainland aboard a shooting gallery of ships and boats. Army fighter bombers flew a total of 1,883 sorties and managed to sink just 13 of them.

After the war, the surviving Banshees became part of the Air Force, which redesignated them F-24s. They remained in service until 1950, well after the last SBDs had been retired.

The British Fleet Air Arm considered using SBDs and tested several of them. Their nicknames for them were “Clunk” and “Barge” rather than “Slow But Deadly.” One of the test pilots, Cap­tain Eric “Winkle” Brown, the most experienced carrier pilot of all time, was underwhelmed by the little Douglas.

“The Dauntless was underpowered, painfully slow, short of range, woefully vulnerable to fighters, and uncomfortable and fatiguing to fly for any length of time, being inherently noisy and drafty,” Brown later wrote. “It was a decidedly prewar aeroplane of obsolescent design and certainly overdue for replacement.” Damning with faint praise, he called the SBD-5’s performance “sedate.”

The Dauntless left Brown baffled. Its performance deficits were so obvious that he deemed it “a very mediocre aeroplane.” Yet he knew its Pacific combat record and could only conclude that the SBD “was among that handful of aeroplanes that have achieved outstanding success against all odds.” (He had only to look to his own Royal Navy’s Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bomber, the infamous Stringbag, for another example of such an anomaly.)

If the Dauntless had a secret ingredient, it was that “most important, it was an accurate dive bomber.” Brown found it easy to make precise downline corrections in a dive with the “pleasantly light” ailerons. He also admitted that the Dauntless was hell for stout. “Extremely strong but also rather heavy,” which gave it “a loss rate in the Pacific…lower than that experienced by any other U.S. Navy shipboard aeroplane.” In fact, the Dauntless had the lowest loss rate of any Ameri­can combat aircraft of the war.

The SBD began to be replaced in Novem­ber 1943 by the brutish, short-coupled Helldiver—which, in fact, was supposed to have gone into service early enough in the war that the Dauntless would never have been needed. “Events that stick in my memory include every flight I ever made in the SB2C Helldiver,” recalled former Patuxent River test pilot Rear Adm. Paul Holmberg. “We had three to use in testing. Of the three, two had their wings come off.”

The Helldiver’s handling qualities were so bad—much of which could be attributed to the unusually short fuselage—that pilots quickly took to calling it the Beast. The airplane had been intended to trump the SBD in speed, range and weight-carrying ability, yet when it went into service it provided minimal improvements over its predecessor.

The SB2C’s moment of glory came in April 1945, when Helldivers and Grumman Avengers sank the supership Yamato, one of the two heaviest and biggest-gunned battleships ever built. It was the last great dive-bombing feat of any war.

Meanwhile, the SBDs evicted from the fleet continued to fly into 1944 in the hands of the Marine Corps, in support of the island-hopping campaign. They became what Stukas had once been: flying artillery, giving close air support to both Marine and Army troops, particularly in the Philippines. Near-vertical dive bombing was often the only way to bring heavy ordnance to bear against troops in heavily jungled areas. Douglas developed .50-caliber machine gun pods for underwing mounting on SBDs, for dive strafing.


Pilot George Glacken and gunner Leo Boulanger fly in an SBD-5 near New Guinea in April 1944. (J.R. Eyerman/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

The last SBDs to see action were those of the French navy, flying in 1947 in support of the Indo­china War. The SBD-3 was originally intended for export to France, in 1940, but the French order for 174 aircraft was taken over by the U.S. Navy after the country’s fall. The French eventually got the airplane when some 40-plus A-24 Banshees were delivered to Algeria and Morocco in 1943, plus a further 112 SBD-5s and A-24s in 1944. Some of them operated over France after D-Day.

The French removed their Dauntlesses from combat in late 1949, but they continued flying as trainers through 1953. In the U.S. a few civil SBDs operated as photo-mappers, mosquito sprayers and skywriters—one of the last painted in Pepsi-Cola red, white and blue. An SBD even ended up at MGM Studios in Hollywood for use as a wind generator during filming.

One of the world’s most concentrated SBD graveyards is the floor of Lake Mich­igan, where 38 Dauntlesses were lost in training crashes. Only a few have been recovered, largely because the Navy insists it still owns them. Many of those still on the bottom are particularly rare because they have substantial combat history. After having gone to war, they were superseded by the Helldiver and then sent back to the U.S. for training use.

What was once intended to be a stopgap to await the arrival of a real dive bomber ended up flying through the end of WWII and becoming the most effective carrier-based dive bomber of all time, of all maritime nations. “The SBD’s contribution to winning the Pacific War was unexcelled by any other American or Allied aircraft,” wrote Aviation History contributor Barrett Tillman, the world’s leading Dauntless expert and historian.

As Tillman points out, the Navy got more than its money’s worth. The last SBD-6s cost $29,000 in 1944 dollars (about $425,000 today), less government-supplied equipment such as the engine, instruments, radios and ordnance. Call it a Slow But Deadly bargain.

For further reading, contributing editor Stephan Wilkin­son recommends: The Dauntless Dive Bomber of World War Two, by Barrett Tillman SBD Daunt­less: Douglas’s US Navy and Marine Corps Dive-Bomber in World War II, by David Doyle and Douglas SBD Dauntless, by Peter C. Smith.

This feature originally appeared in the May 2021 issue of Aviation History. Subscribe today!


How Scout Squadron Six Took the Fight To Japan at Pearl Harbor

The men of Scouting and Bombing Squadron Six had reason to be proud of their actions on December 7, 1941.

Here's What You Need to Know: Scout Squadron 6 departed from the aircraft carrier Enterprise that arrived over Pearl Harbor simultaneously with the Japanese.

Many people have heard of the six American Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk fighters that actually got off the ground and contested the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Some know about the 11 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers winging toward Pearl Harbor from California unarmed and out of gas. A few are aware of the six obsolete Curtiss P-36 Hawk that were able to take off. However, almost no one knows the story of 18 Douglas SBD Dauntless dive-bombers from the aircraft carrier Enterprise that arrived over Pearl Harbor simultaneously with the Japanese. These were the planes of Scouting Squadron Six.

Three U.S. aircraft carriers were operating in the Pacific that day. The Saratoga (CV3) was being overhauled in San Diego. The Lexington (CV2) had just left Pearl Harbor to deliver 18 Vought SB2U Vindicator dive bombers to Midway. The Enterprise (CV6) was just returning from a similar delivery of 12 Grumman F4F Wildcats to Wake Island. She was due back at Pearl on December 6. Fortunately, a storm loomed, so Halsey reduced speed and the ship did not actually reach port until the 8th.

Halsey knew war was imminent. Drills had been conducted regularly over the past few months, the most recent on November 27. When Halsey was given his orders to reinforce Wake, he had deliberately asked, “How far do you want me to go?”

Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, replied, “Use your own common sense.”

That was all Halsey needed to hear. In his famous “Battle Order Number One,” the first item read, “The Enterprise is now operating under war conditions.” When his operations officer challenged this order, Halsey replied, “I’ll take [responsibility]. If anything gets in the way, we’ll shoot first and argue afterwards.” He intended to bomb anything on the sea and shoot down anything in the sky.

It was ironic. Unlike the rest of the Navy on December 7, the Enterprise fliers saw the enemy first. Their guns were loaded. Their crews were trained. But still, like everyone else, they did not quite expect an attack at home. They were looking for submarines. When they arrived, they thought the smoke was from burning sugar cane fields. They thought the shell fire was just a drill. They thought the stacks of green aircraft belonged to the Army. Only when they saw the antiaircraft blossoms over Pearl did they realize the truth.

Both the Japanese and American forces had launched aircraft at first light. At 0615 on December 7, the Japanese carriers sent their first attack wave aloft 250 miles north-northwest of Oahu. At exactly the same moment, the Enterprise launched what was thought to be a routine patrol directly in front of the ship’s advance. As usual, the patrol would search a hemisphere of 180 degrees directly ahead of the task force. The flight consisted of nine pairs of SBD-2 Dauntless dive-bombers, mostly from Scout Squadron Six, but including a few planes from Bomb Squadron Six. Each pair of aircraft would conduct a zigzag search in an arc 150 miles long and approximately 10 degrees wide. Instead of returning to the ship, they would then continue on to land at Ford Island, thus getting a jump on shore leave.

At 0645, the destroyer USS Ward fired on and sank a Japanese midget submarine operating within the defensive perimeter of Pearl Harbor. Seventeen minutes later, the Army radar station at Opana Point picked up the first wave of Japanese attackers. Thirteen minutes later, the second Japanese wave was launched. At 0748, Kaneohe Airfield was strafed and bombed. At 0752, Lt. Cmdr. Mitsuo Fuchida, tactical commander of the first wave, sent the message, “Tora, Tora, Tora,” meaning that surprise had been achieved. At the same time Scouting Six planes began to arrive over Oahu.

To maintain radio silence, Halsey had not informed Pearl Harbor his location or of his reconnaissance patrol. When news of the attack reached him, his first thought was, “My God, they’re shooting at my own boys!”

One of the first two-plane sections to arrive was aircraft 6-S-16, piloted by Frank A. Patriarca with a gunner named DeLuca, and 6-S-15, piloted by Ensign W.M. Willis with gunner Fred J. Ducolon. They almost made it to Ford Island. The two had passed Barbers Point, rounded Ewa Field, and were actually lining up on their landing approach when the attack began. They noticed the antiaircraft fire, but it was not until a Japanese Aichi “Val” dive-bomber winged over and flashed the rising sun insignia that Patriarca knew something was very wrong. At the same instant, tracers began whizzing past his plane.

Immediately, Patriarca opened throttle, diving back toward the coast. He had decided to try and make it all the way back to the Enterprise when he realized he was alone. After searching for 6-S-15, his fuel was low, so he landed at Burns Field on Kauai. Willis and Ducolon were never found, although Mitsubishi Zero fighters led by Lieutenant Masaji Suganami from the carrier Soryu would later claim three SBDs.

After Sending His Final Message, “Do not fire. We are American Aircraft” No Trace of Gonzalez was Ever Found

At about the same time, S-B-3 and S-B-12 approached Pearl Harbor. Ensign Manuel Gonzalez and gunner Leonard J. Kozelek were in S-B-3, and S-B-12 was piloted by Ensign Frank T. Weber with a gunner by the name of Keany. Their segment of the search had finished 20 miles north of Kauai, whereupon they turned and headed toward Oahu and Pearl Harbor. No one knows exactly what happened to Gonzalez that day, but when the two planes were about 25 miles off Oahu, Weber noticed a group of 40 to 50 planes he thought belonged to the Army circling at about 3,500 feet. Although he had been flying just 500 feet above and behind S-B-3, when Weber looked back Gonzalez was gone.

Gonzalez’s last message, which several other aircraft heard, was something like, “Do not fire. We are American aircraft,” or words to that effect. Moments later, Gonzales was calling to his gunner to break out the rubber raft. Nothing else was heard from them, and no trace was ever found.

It seems incredible that an aircraft could have shot down Gonzalez and missed Weber, but such may well have been the case, since Weber innocently began a search of the area and performed four or five slow “S” turns looking for his comrade. It was just Weber’s bad luck that he had told his radioman to change frequencies and get some homing practice on the approach into Pearl, thus missing Gonzalez’s last message.

Still unaware of the attack and unable to spot S-B-3, Weber continued on toward Pearl until he noticed an aircraft about 2,000 feet directly ahead of him. Thinking it was Gonzalez at last, he increased speed and attempted to form up on him when the unknown plane suddenly turned 180 degrees and approached. Weber performed a slow, wide turn to help close on the approaching aircraft. Only when it was close off his starboard bow and finally made a flipper turn was Weber able to see the red circles that identified it as Japanese. He immediately increased speed and dove to an altitude of 25 feet.

The Japanese pilot did not follow, and Weber flew on to Barbers Point where he formed up on 6-S-10, piloted by Lieutenant W.E. Gallaher, and began circling a few miles off the coast as other Enterprise planes were arriving.

Weber described the Japanese plane as resembling a German Junkers Ju-87 Stuka type dive-bomber. Such a description would seem to describe the Japanese Val dive-bombers operating over Pearl Harbor. A Japanese report confirms that Vals from the aircraft carrier Shokaku were returning to sea after bombing Hickam Field and were 20 miles off Keana Point when they shot down an SBD.

At about 0820, 6-S-14, piloted by E.T. Deacon with gunner Audrey G. Coslett, and 6-S-9 flown by W.E. Roberts with gunner D.H. Jones, arrived off Kaena Point. There they noticed about 30 aircraft in a long column at an altitude of 100 feet and only 400 feet away. Roberts saw their green camouflage and assumed they were U.S. Army aircraft. One plane came so close that the Japanese pilot even waggled his wings as he flew by. “The significance of the red circles on the wings did not occur to me until later,” said Roberts.

The column of planes did not attack, and neither did the Dauntlesses. At the same time, the Dauntless pilots noticed the large amount of smoke and geysers of water produced by coastal antiaircraft guns. Dauntlesses 6-S-14 and 6-B-9 kept flying toward Ford Island until they heard the “Don’t shoot” call of Ensign Gonzalez. Then they charged their guns and climbed to 1,000 feet, observing about 20 Japanese fighters over Pearl Harbor. Worse, coming straight toward them were 25 dive-bombers that had just completed their dives. Both Deacon and Roberts dove to the water and headed for Hickam Field, flying directly over Fort Weaver.


Watch the video: Mitsubishi Type 89 IFV - Japanese Armored Cars History - 菱89式装甲戦闘車. (June 2022).


Comments:

  1. Rares

    Wonderful, very valuable answer

  2. Randell

    your thinking is helpful



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