An eBay seller recently posted an anomalous grouping of negatives online. The photos were reportedly from the collection of a US ETO fighter pilot, but were clearly taken in a tropical location. My BS radar went off, and I placed a single bid on one of the “better” images. After the negative arrived (2.5 by 3.5 in original glassine envelope), I was able to extract a bit more info; although the man posed in the photo is still a mystery. His name appears to be Jud – and I’ve narrowed down the unit info to place him as a pilot with the VMSB-231 station on Majuro in the Marshall Islands in 1944. I’ve contacted the seller to track down more shots from this historic grouping.
The VMSB-231 stands for Marine Scout Bombing Squadron # 231. They were known as the “Ace of Spades” and can sometimes be seen sporting spade insignia on their planes. The unit was responsible for dive bombing Japanese shipping and freight. The SBD was a radial engined dive-bomber that was extensively used in the early portion of the US involvement in the PTO. Here’s a good site regarding the SBD: http://science.howstuffworks.com/douglas-sbd-dauntless.htm
Some technical data on the SBD:
Douglas SBD Dauntless Specifications
Wingspan: 41 ft. 6-1/2 in.
Length: 33 ft. 1-1/2 in.
Height: 13 ft. 7 in.
Empty Weight: 6,500 lbs
Gross Weight: 10,700 lbs
Top Speed: 252 mph
Service Ceiling: 26,100 ft.
Range: 1,100 miles
Engine/Horsepower: One Wright R-1820/1200
Armament: Two .50-inch Browning machine guns in the nose; two .50-inch Browning machine guns flexibly mounted in the rear cockpit; 1,600 lbs of bombs under fuselage; 650 lbs under the wing