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[NNAM.1994.005.001] Aircraft - 'SBD-2 Aircraft, Bureau Number 2106'
SBD-2 Aircraft, Bureau Number 2106
Accession Number NNAM.1994.005.001
Accession Date 13/01/1994
Creator
Creator Creator Role
Manufacturer
Date Created 1940
Object Desciption Rolling off the Douglas Aircraft Company assembly line in El Segundo, California, in December 1940, SBD-2 Dauntless (Bureau Number 2106) was delivered to Bombing Squadron (VB) 2 at Naval Air Station (NAS) San Diego, California, on the last day of 1940. For the better part of the following year the aircraft flew with that squadron, logging hours flying from the deck of the aircraft carrier Lexington (CV 2) and participating in large-scale military maneuvers in Louisiana.

During the first week of December 1941, with Lexington earmarked to deliver aircraft of a Marine scout bombing squadron to Midway Atoll, the aircraft was off loaded from the carrier to make room for the additional aircraft and left at Pearl Harbor when "Lady Lex" put to sea. Thus, on the morning of 7 December 1941, it was on Ford Island in the middle of Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. Put back aboard Lexington when she returned to Pearl, the aircraft embarked in the carrier to the South Pacific. On 10 March 1942, flown by Lieutenant (junior grade) Mark T. Whittier with Aviation Radioman Second Class Forest G. Stanley as his gunner, the aircraft joined 103 other planes from Lexington and Yorktown (CV 5) in a raid against Japanese shipping at Lae and Salamaua in New Guinea. Credited with pressing home his attack against a Japanese ship, Whittier received the Navy Cross.

When Lexington returned to Pearl Harbor following the raid, the museum's SBD-2 was again put ashore and earmarked for transfer to Marine Scout Bombing Squadron (VMSB) 241 on Midway Atoll, arriving there with eighteen other SBD-2s on 26 May 1942, on board the aircraft transport Kitty Hawk (APV 1).

On the morning of 4 June 1942, with 1st Lieutenant Daniel Iverson as pilot and Private First Class Wallace Reid manning the .30-caliber machine gun in the aft cockpit. the museum's aircraft was one of sixteen SBD-2s of VMSB-241 launched to attack Japanese aircraft carriers to the west of Midway. Approaching the enemy carrier Hiryu, the Marine planes came under fire from antiaircraft gunners and fighters of the enemy combat air patrol. Iverson, with two Japanese Zero fighters following him down in his dive, released his bomb at an altitude of 800 feet. During his egress from the target area, the pair of Zeroes on Iverson's tail were joined by two others, which pursued the Dauntless for miles. Enemy fire holed Iverson's plane 219 times, knocking out his hydraulic system and wounding Reid. One bullet came so close that it clipped Iverson's throat microphone chord. Nevertheless, the pilot managed to return to Midway, making a one-wheel landing on the atoll. His was one of only eight SBD-2s of VMSB-241 to return from the attack against the Japanese fleet. For their actions, Iverson received the Navy Cross and Reid was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Returned to the United States, the museum's SBD-2 was repaired and eventually assigned to the Carrier Qualification Training Unit (CQTU) at NAS Glenview, Illinois. On the morning of 11 June 1943, with Marine 2nd Lieutenant Donald A. Douglas, Jr., at the controls, the aircraft ditched in the waters of Lake Michigan during an errant approach to the training carrier Sable (IX 81). Douglas was retrieved from the water by a Coast Guard rescue boat, but his aircraft sank to the bottom of the lake.

Recovered in 1994, the aircraft underwent extensive restoration at the museum before being placed on public display in 2001. Elements of its original paint scheme when delivered to the fleet are still visible on its wings and tail surfaces. A survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack and two combat actions, including the famous Battle of Midway, it is one of the most historic aircraft in existence anywhere in the world.
Object Notes (2) 100 G.P. Bombs with PAM numbers: 0045 and 0069 have been placed on SBD BUNO 2106. They were removed from the Carrier Deck Island.
Place of Origin El Segundo, California
Notes No tactic represented naval aviation's rise to preeminence during World War II more than dive-bombing, and no aircraft embodied the success of this tactic more than the SBD Dauntless. An innovative design, the aircraft incorporated perforated dive-flaps, which stabilized and slowed it during bombing runs that routinely consisted of seventy-plus degree dives. The initial production aircraft entered service in 1940, and by the time the United States entered World War II, ten squadrons operated the SBD. During World War II, Dauntless pilots participated in all five of the war's great carrier battles, achieving their greatest victory at Midway, where they sank four Japanese carriers. Though their mount was slow in speed and lightly armed, SBD pilots and gunners also shot down 138 enemy aircraft. By July 1944, a total of 5,936 examples of the aircraft had rolled off the Douglas assembly line, far more than were ever originally planned and testament to the amazing capabilities of the outstanding aircraft of the Pacific War.

The museum holds fourteen examples of the SBD, including SBD-1 (BuNo 1612), the seventeenth production Dauntless off the assembly line. Four aircraft have documented combat histories. SBD-2 (BuNo 2106) is the only known surviving aircraft from the Battle of Midway, SBD-3 (BuNo 06508) flew from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, and a pair of SBD-3s (BuNos 06624 and 06626) flew from USS Ranger (CV 4) during Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. All 14 aircraft were recovered from Lake Michigan.

Specifications

Manufacturer: Douglas Aircraft Company
Dimensions: Length: 32 ft., 8 in.; Height: 13 ft., 7 in., Wingspan: 41ft., 6 in.
Weight: Empty: 6,345 lb.; Gross: 10,400 lb.
Power Plant: One 1,000 horsepower Wright R-1820-52 engine
Performance: Maximum Speed: 250 M.P.H.; Service Ceiling: 27,100 ft.;
Maximum Range with Bomb Load: 1,345 miles
Armament: Two fixed forward-firing .50-in. guns, one flexible-mounted rear-firing .30-in.
guns, 1,200 lb. of ordnance
Crew: Pilot and gunner
Multimedia
SBD-2 on Display
VMSB-241 Group Photograph
Battle Damage to SBD-2 (Side)
SBD-2 Battle Damage (Tail)
SBD-2 Recovered from Lake Michigan
Close-Up of SBD-2 Recovered from Lake Michigan
SBD-2 Cockpit at Time of Recovery
Restored Cockpit of SBD-2
Rear Cockpit of SBD-2
Restored .30-in Machine Gun in Rear Cockpit of SBD-2
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