James M. Caiella
I just received my February issue of Naval History, and briefly flipping through it, a headline stopped me in my tracks: “The Plane that Won the War” (pp. 14–19). My good friend author Barrett Tillman is going to have to jump through a whole lot of hoops to sway me to his belief about the importance of the article’s subject, the Douglas SBD Dauntless. And at that, I’m not crossing over.
Here are just a few of the World War II aircraft that should be weighed against the merits of the SBD:
• Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
• Consolidated B-24 Liberator
• Supermarine Spitfire
• Ilyushin-2 Shturmovik
• North American P-51 Mustang
• AVRO Lancaster
• Boeing B-29 Superfortress
And then consider the de Havilland Mosquito, Petlyakov Pe-2, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, Grumman F6F Hellcat, and Chance Vought F4U Corsair, among others.
Sure, the SBD was seminal in helping pave the island-hopping, airbase-collecting road to aid the Army Air Forces in gaining strategic bombing bases, but in no way—as is true for all the others listed above—did it “win” the war.