No One Wanted to Mess with the “Dauntless” Dive-Bomber

Warfare History Network

Key Point: Here is the history of this weapon war. 

World War II gave us many stories of aerial warfare, men and their machines fighting their way to victory and glory in the name of humanity. However romantic such a notion may be, World War II was the first in which airpower actually won battles, decided the outcome of campaigns, and ultimately the course of the conflict itself. That victory came about as a result of Allied airmen dropping ordnance onto the most important things the Axis countries owned, turning them into rubble or wreckage. It’s a simple formula actually: precisely drop enough lead or high explosive onto something, and it will be destroyed.

“Fighter Pilots Make Movies. Bomber Pilots Make History!”

But not everyone saw the worth of that idea in the 1930s and 1940s. Most airpower enthusiasts of the day saw bombing in terms of large formations of huge multi-engined planes, fighting their way past hostile defenses to carpet an objective with bombs, the target being embroiled in the mess.

The early days of World War II, however, did not see America’s few victories won by huge formations of heavy bombers. Those battles were won by one small, tubby, and not terribly fast airplane, flown by men whose courage and tenacity are still a source of envy and wonder to historians of the period. There was a saying going around at the time: “Fighter pilots make movies. Bomber pilots make history!” The men who made that history were the aviators of the Navy and Marine scout and bombing squadrons, and their war horse was the Douglas SDB Dauntless dive-bomber.

It is sometimes difficult to remember that before laser-, infrared-, and satellite-guided bombs came into being, delivering ordinance from aircraft was hardly a precision process. Huge sums of money were spent developing specialized bombsights for level bombers, to help lay their loads onto targets with some modicum of accuracy. However, without some sort of terminal guidance for the bombs themselves, even the famed Norden bombsight of World War II would do no better than to lay a string of bombs across an area the size of several football fields. There were, however, simpler and more intuitive ways of putting a bomb close to an aim-point from the air.

Concept Of Dive-Bombing Created

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