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SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber

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SherburneJ

New Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2011
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1
Location
Lake Charles, LA
A few years ago, maybe 10 or more, there was a teacher that helped his students build a replica Dauntless Dive Bomber. They supposedly used the plans from a Guillow's Balsa Wood kit and scaled the plans to 5/8 scale, I think. I'm sure they had to make some other modifications, as well. I have been looking for information on this aircraft (it was finished) and the project guidelines under which they performed the work. I do remember seeing the completed aircraft in some magazine but efforts to find the article came up dry. The aircraft was supposedly sold after it was completed. If anyone has any information on this project/aircraft please let me know. Thanks. SJG
 

CodyPaul

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Joined
Mar 19, 2012
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1
Location
Gainesville, Tx
I remember the article. It was in EAA's Sport Aviation. I believe it was sometime in the 70's. One of the pictures had a banner "World's Largest Model Airplane."
 

fly2kads

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Jan 2, 2010
Messages
1,780
Location
Justin, TX
CodyPaul is right, there was an article in Sport Aviation. I just looked it up...very interesting! The aircraft was 3/4 scale and powered by a Lycoming O-435. The wing was aluminum; the fuselage was steel tube with aluminum formers and skins. The project was lead by a Mr. Don Roberts of Noblesville High School, Noblesville, Indiana. Construction began in the fall of 1972 and was completed in May of 1977. The article is titled "SBD 'Dauntless' Flies Again," and appeared in the December 1977 issue, pp. 31-33. If you are an EAA member, you can look up the article for free on the Members Only section of the web site. If you're not a member, you can get a copy by calling EAA. I've found them to be very helpful with requests like this.

A later article states that the Dauntless went to the San Diego Air Museum. This article, "Tora, Tora, Tora over Indiana," (May, 1987) describes another one of Mr. Roberts' class projects, a 5/8 scale Zero. It was mostly of wood construction, using the wing from the Cavalier and a fuselage made from a wood box covered with foam and fiberglass, similar to the WAR replicas. It was powered by an O-290-D2 from a Tri-Pacer. (Overhauled to "zero time," it says. Ha, ha.)

Mr. Roberts sounds like quite a guy. Per these articles, he built or rebuilt 10+ aircraft in the high school program he lead, involving hundreds of boys in the process. Our community could stand a few more people like him.
 

fly2kads

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Jan 2, 2010
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1,780
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Justin, TX
A quick Google search turned up some other interesting tidbits. It appears that Mr. Don Roberts was a Navy man, serving on the aircraft carrier USS Essex as an aircraft maintenance technician. The following article describes his ring-side seat at the Bay of Pigs invasion:

Noblesville man recalls Bay of Pigs Invasion

I don't have 100% confirmation that this is the same gentleman, but it appears to be from name, hometown, occupation, approximate age, and a comparison of the photo in this article and those of the EAA articles. From this article, Mr. Roberts was 71 years old when the article was written in 2008.
 
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swankster

New Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2013
Messages
1
Location
DFW, TX
I was searching the web trying to find a picture of this plane to show a friend who is into aviation and had to join this site and post about Don Roberts. Unfortunately I did not have a picture with me, but I have a shot of the "world's largest model airplane" in my scrap book.

I was at Noblesville High School from 1972 to 1976 and worked on this plane. Mr. Roberts approached the school board several years before I became a high school student and convinced the board to allow him to put together an aviation program. This was the third plane the school built. Don was able to scratch together funds to allow us to build this plane and it was one of the greatest experiences I had. The program he put together was three years, the first was a ground school, the second you learned how to work on airplanes, (welding, riveting and general maintenance), and in the third year two students were selected to supervise the rest that worked on this plane. He took a group of us to Oshkosh two years in a row. This post is a tribute to him!

^^And yes it is the same man in the Bay of Pigs Invasion article.
 

jmodguy

Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2011
Messages
14
Location
Indiana
Just stumbled across this old thread and holy guacamole! I was a student of Don Roberts 76-79 and remember this aircraft well! I remember the smell of the polyester resin through half of the school building from the cowl construction. Mains were from a Ryan Navion if I remember correctly. The "bomb" was donated by the Navy recruiter and we all got copies of Naval Aviation News which had an article of the plane. I still have it somewhere. Thanks for the memories!
 
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