Archaehistoria

The Malaitan Dauntless dive bomber (SBD-3)

Figure 1
An attack flight (Flight No. 300) dispatched by the carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons in late August 1942 failed to locate any ships, and as dusk was approaching, the flight leader elected to chance flying to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal Island instead. It paid off and all landed safely. The 11 newly arrived Navy SBD-3 Dauntless dive bombers of VS-5 and VB-6 were a most welcome reinforcement of the Cactus Air Force at a crucial time. Within hours of arrival, the Navy pilots were flying alongside the Marines of VMSB-232 in the dark early morning hours of August 25 on missions to stop Admiral Raizo Tanaka’s convoy of transports from reaching Guadalcanal. The Japanese ships were in Indispensible Channel off Malaita Island. One attack section departed Henderson at 0400 hours. Scouting Squadron FIVE pilot Ens. Walter E. Brown flew one of the trio of SBD-3s. He was credited with a 500-pound bomb hit on a destroyer but subsequently became lost and ended up ditching off the coast of Malaita at dawn. His aircraft is rare archaeological evidence of crucial Flight 300 from the USS Enterprise (CV-6). Ensign Brown’s SBD-3 would have looked like the depiction above in Navy Non Specular  Blue-Gray colouration. [Aircraft profile by Don Greer, as published p. 40 of “Marine Fighting Squadron One-Twenty-One (VMF-121)” by Thomas Doll, Squadron Signal, 1996].

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