Hobby Master HA0170 USN Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless Dive-Bomber - Lt. Cook Cleland, "White 39," VB-16, USS Lexington (CV-2), June 1944 [Dive Brakes Up] (1:72 Scale)
"Why should we have a navy at all? There are no enemies for it to fight except apparently the Army Air Force."
- General Carl Spaatz, Commander of the US 8th Army Air Force, after WWII
The Dauntless was the standard shipborne dive-bomber of the US Navy from mid-1940 until November 1943, when the first Curtiss Helldivers arrived to replace it. Between 1942-43, the Dauntless was pressed into service again and again, seeing action in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Guadalcanal campaign. It was, however, at the Battle of Midway, that the Dauntless came into its own, singlehandedly destroying four of the Imperial Japanese Navy's frontline carriers. The SBD (referred to, rather affectionately by her aircrews, as "Slow But Deadly") was gradually phased out during 1944. The June 20th, 1944 strike against the Japanese Mobile Fleet, known as the Battle of the Philippine Sea, was the last major engagement in which it was used. From 1942 to 1944, the SBD was also used by several land-based Marine Corps squadrons.
Built as a two-seat, low-wing Navy scout bomber, the Dauntless was powered by a single Wright R1820 1200-horsepower engine. It became the mainstay of the Navy's air fleet in the Pacific, suffering the lowest loss ratio of any U.S. carrier-borne aircraft. A total of 5,936 SBDs were delivered to the Navy and Marine Corps between 1940 and the end of its production, in July 1944.
This particular 1:72 scale replica of a US Navy SBD-5 Dauntless dive-bomber was flown by Lt. Cook Cleland, who was attached to VB-16, then embarked upon the USS Lexington (CV-2) during June 1944.
Wingspan: 6.5 inches
Length: 5 inches
Release Date: December 2013
Historical Account: "The Gray Ghost" - Cleland joined the Navy and became a naval aviator shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He married Ora Lee Cleland during his flight training. After graduation he was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Wasp flying the Vought SB2U Vindicator and Douglas SBD dive bombers, providing close air support for the initial Guadalcanal landings. Cleland was on the Wasp when she was sunk in September 1942, spending over 4 hours in the water, waiting for rescue.
Cleland was then assigned to the USS Lexington, becoming a plank owner. During his service on board the "Gray Ghost", he became and air ace, shooting down five Japanese aircraft, unusual for a dive bomber pilot. He and his wingman were also credited with severely crippling the Japanese aircraft carrier Junyō during the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1943. For his valor in action, he received the Navy Cross and many other commendations. After returning to the United States, he evaluated captured enemy aircraft as a Navy test pilot.