Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless

These photos were taken by Stewart Bailey

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Photos directly below were taken of the Kalamazoo Air Zoo’s SBD-3 Dauntless.  

This aircraft, BuNo. 06624 was one of a number of SBDs lost during training in the Great Lakes aboard the paddlewheel carriers Wolverine and Sable.  It was stricken on September 19, 1943 when the pilot trainee accidentally switched to a dry fuel tank, lost power on landing, boltered and went over the side into Lake Michigan.  It was recovered in the early 1990s, and placed on loan to the Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum (Air Zoo) for restoration by the National Museum of Naval Aviation.  Research into the aircraft showed that it has served with the VS-41 “Tophatters” aboard the USS Ranger (CV-4) and had flown bombing missions in support of the Operation Torch landings in Algeria.  The Air Zoo’s restoration staff chose to finish the aircraft in the markings it wore at that time.  For more information on the aircraft and its restoration, visit 

Tail navigation light Tail antenna mast Solid rubber tail wheel Tail hook point (not the rubber bump strip on the underside of the fuselage)


Elevator trim tab actuator, underside starboard stabilizer Vertical stabilizer, starboard side Winged dinosaur marking on starboard side of tail only.  On some occasions, a winged turtle was painted on aircraft that had crossed the equator signifying a “shell back.”  However this particular aircraft featured a winged “Sinclair Oil” dinosaur… perhaps some sort of joke?  Our restoration people traced it from the original marking and made a stencil to apply in after restoration was complete. Tail antenna mast, starboard side


Navigation lights on spine and doors for stowing guns (in closed position) Rear view of rear gun mount Baggage compartment access panel (starboard) Starboard view of stacked gunner’s canopy


Rear gun mount, starboard side Starboard navigation light Fixed wing slots on starboard wing Starboard gear leg from outside


Starboard exhaust and lug for starter crank Back side of engine cylinders through starboard cowl flaps Piece of original engine which had to be replaced Instrument panel from port side


Starboard side of cockpit, forward Starboard side of cockpit, aft Stick and floorboard Cockpit cowl with telescopic bomb sight and compass


Stick and rudder pedals Instrument panel from starboard side Post side of cockpit, forward Port side of cockpit, aft (note lifting cable for hoisting the aircraft with a crane)


Seat back, armor plate and roll-over structure Aircraft data plate on port side of roll-over structure Gunner’s station looking forward Gunner’s basic flight instruments and radio


Twin .30 cal. gun mount showing ammo feed Twin .30 cal. mounting point Ammo feed Gunner’s armor face plate


Twin .30 cals. From starboard side Gunner’s seat Shell case ejection chutes from forward 50. cal. machine gun (port) Gear door and linkage (starboard)


Inner face of gear door (port) Tire (port) Starboard .50 cal. machine gun Port .50 cal. machine gun


Forward fuselage Wright R-1820-52 Cyclone engine before restoration before restoration



before restoration before restoration

Photos and text © 2003 by Stewart Bailey