The SBD (Scout Bomber Douglas) Dauntless was derived directly from the Northrop BT-2 design of 1935. After Northrop became a subsidiary of Douglas, the new aircraft took on a Douglas designation. First orders for the SBD-1 and SBD-2 were placed by the Marine Corps and the Navy respectively on 8 April 1938, both entering service near the end of 1940. In March 1941, the SBD-3 was introduced, featuring protective armor and a more powerful engine than its predecessors. Armament consisted of two .50-inch machine guns fixed forward on the engine cowling and twin 0.30 inch machine guns manned by a second crewman for protection astern. Simultaneously, Army Air Corps’ interest in the design led to additional production orders, those in Army service designated A-24 and nicknamed “Banshee”. The SBD-5 (A-24B) followed soon after, its principal characteristic being a further engine upgrade.
When fighting began in the Pacific, the Dauntless performed with distinction. As the standard carrier-borne Navy dive-bomber, SBDs flew from the decks of the carriers Lexington, Enterprise, Yorktown, and Saratoga and first engaged the Japanese fleet in the Battle of the Coral Sea. A month later, SBDs accounted for three of the four Japanese aircraft carriers (Akagi, Kaga, and Hiryu) sunk in the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942, considered the turning point in the Pacific theater. On the other side of the world, SBDs from the US carrier Ranger struck German and Vichy French positions in North Africa in support of Operation Torch.
In addition to its service with US Navy, Marine and Army Air Force units, SBDs were also operated by Mexico, New Zealand and the free French. SBDs briefly saw combat flying from French aircraft carriers in Indo-China. By the time production ceased in July 1944, a total of 5,936 SBD/A-24 aircraft had been manufactured.
Manufactured by Douglas Aircraft as an A-24B in 1942, this aircraft was transferred to the Fuerza Aerea Mexicana (Mexican Air Force) and on completion of its military service was sold to a Mexican aerial photography business. In 1972, the aircraft was acquired by the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas, where it remained on display in non-flying condition until acquired by LSFM in 1994. After a 12,000 hour in-house restoration, the A-24 was returned to flying condition in June 1997 in the markings of the more numerous naval versions, the SBD. It earned Reserve Grand Champion at Oshkosh in 1997 and the “Golden Wrench” award for its pristine restoration. The aircraft remains airworthy and is only one of a handful of A-24B/SBD-5s flying today out of a total of 3,640 built (USN 2,965; USAAF 675).