Model Airplane News
October, 1959


Model Airplane News Cover for May, 1943 by Jo Kotula Douglas SBD Dauntless    Model Airplane News Cover for October, 1959 by Jo Kotula Douglas SBD Dauntless

Douglas SBD "Dauntless"
Model Airplane News Cover Art for October, 1959
by Jo Kotula
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The prototype for the SBD was developed by Northrop. The Douglas Corporation won the production contract, and began manufacturing the plane in 1940. Ed Heinemann (see Design patent below) designed the plane and led it through several versions. The SBD, was primarily produced at the Douglas plant at Tulsa, Oklahoma. Over 2,400 were built. In addition to American service, the SBD saw combat against the Japanese with No. 25 Squadron of the Royal New Zealand Air Force,and against the Germans with the Free French Air Force.

 Douglas SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber    Douglas SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber Rear Gunner      Douglas SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber

Douglas SBD "Dauntless" Dive Bomber

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Dive bombers in general and the SBD in particular have a number of interesting technical features that are shown in the following patent diagrams:

Dive Brakes:If, however, the bombing plane can be placed in a vertical dive and the bombs released during travel along an earth perpendicular, no lateral motion will be imparted to the falling objects, the plane's speed merely adding to the initial velocity of fall.... present high diving speeds seriously reduce the time available for sighting a plane on a target and releasing bombs therefrom ... the control devices slow the aircraft in its dive to give the pilot ample opportunity to aim

Swinging Bomb Rack:In dive bombing, the diving angle is preferably between 70 and 90 degrees to reduce to a minimum the gravity deviation of the bomb trajectories from the direction of the dive... The bombs released at the end of the dive, being aerodynamically cleaner than the airplane, tend to fall more rapidly than the plane. In high angle dives the bomb trajectory after release is nearly parallel to the flight path of the airplane. If the trajectory begins at the undersurface of the airplane, there is danger of the bombs falling into the propeller blades and breaking them or being exploded. Accordingly, devices have been employed to move the bomb upon its release from the bomb rack to a position sufficiently displaced outwardly from the fuselage that the bomb trajectory will clear the path of the propeller even in 90 dives....

Rear Gunsight:Ever since rearwardly firing guns were placed on an aircraft forward of the stabilizing surfaces it has been not uncommon for a gunner, in the excitement of combat and while following his target in his gun sights, to accidentally shoot into the empennage of his own craft. To overcome this, devices have been developed which prevent the gunner from moving the gun so that it can be pointed at the empennage or which prevent the gun being fired whenever the structural parts of the airplane come within the field of fire. Such interrupters serve the purpose for which they are intended but from a tactical standpoint the occurrence of the blind spot re quiring mere momentary cessation of fire gives the enemy aircraft an opening to attack. Accordingly, it is the principal object of my invention to indicate to the pilot of an aircraft s when his remotely located gunner wishes to shoot in a field obstructed by a portion of his craft so that he may maneuver the craft to clear the desired field of fire.

April 1942 Popular Science Article about Dive Bombing      Jo Kotula, illustrator for April 1942 Popular Science Article about Dive Bombing

April 1942 Popular Science Article about Dive Bombing
right: Jo Kotula, illustrator
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The April, 1942 issue of Popular Science has a very well written article about dive bombing in particular and the SBD "Dauntless" in particular. The cover (above) has a great drawing of an SBD in action, drawn by Jo Kotula, the best airplane illustrator of the period. His covers for Model Airplane News are legendary. The article may be downloaded by clicking here and it has a good discussion of dive brakes, bomb racks and sights that was written for non-technical audiences.

 Douglas SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber   Design Patent D-130,473     Douglas SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber Dive Brakes Patent No. 2,031,177      Douglas SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber Bomb Rack Patent No. 2,386,839      Douglas SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber Gun Position Indicator Patent No. 2,466,985

Technical Features of the SBD
Overall Design Patent D-130,473
Dive Brakes Patent No. 2,031,177
Bomb Rack Patent No. 2,386,839
Gun Position Indicator Patent No. 2,466,985
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Here is a video of a restored SBD in action.



Click here for more information about the Douglas SBD "Dauntless" Dive Bomber. Here is a very well illustrated history of one carrier pilot's experioences with the SBD during World War II.

Cleveland Model of the Douglas SBD Dauntless     the Douglas SBD Dauntless  on the Cleveland Website

Cleveland Model of the Douglas SBD "Dauntless"
Still sold today...
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Cleveland made a kit for the Dauntless, as shown above. You can buy the plans and patterns that will enable you to make this model right now. Click Here to go to the exact location on the Cleveland Website to get them

go to the master list of Model Airplane News Covers

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