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  SBD-4 Dauntless Bureau Number 10348  
USMC
VMSB-144

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Robert Keet 1995

Pilot  Lt. James Wilson Dougherty (survived)
Gunner  Sgt Robert Bernard
(survived)
Ditched  July 23, 1943 at 1:00pm

Aircraft History
Built by Douglas at the El Segundo Plant, California. Constructors Number 2275. Assigned to the United States Marine Corps (USMC). Assigned to VMSB-144. No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
On July 23, 1943 took off from Banika Field (North Field, Sunlight) in the Russell Islands on a dive bombing mission against targets in the Munda area, armed with a 500 lbs bomb. During the dive bombing run against Japanese positions at Kindu on Gurasai Point on Rendova Island, this aircraft was hit by 40mm anti-aircraft fire.

Damaged, pilot Dougherty ditched into Rendova Harbor, east of the Allied landing beach. Both crew were unhurt in the ditching, aside from a head wound when Dougherty impacting the bomb site.

Fates of the Crew
Both were rescued and returned to duty.

Wreckage
This Dauntless remains in situ in 12 meters of water. This wreck was identified by Ronnie Day. On July 23, 1995, the former pilot, James Dougherty, traveled to Rendova to SCUBA dive on his former airplane. He sat in the cockpit, and the visit was the topic of a documentary Lost Warriors of the South Pacific by Pacific Media Associates / Robert Keet.

Robert Keet adds:
"The video of the pilot getting back into the seat of his SBD was July 23, 1995. Exactly 52 years to the minute after being brought down by a 40mm AA. Jim even visited the exact guns that hit his plane as they were still at Kindu. The guys that helped him into the plane were myself, Bill Angione (a Los Angeles County Sheriffs dept Diver/Paramedic/Instructor and Dave Cooke, (Solomon Sea Divers, Munda)."

References
Lost Warriors of the South Pacific covers Dougherty's 1995 visit.
War Wrecks of the Coral Sea includes dive footage of this wreck
Thanks to Robert Keets for photos and visit details

Contribute Information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

Tech InfoSBD

SCUBA
12'

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