Century Aviation

Douglas SBD Dauntless – Load Test and Install


National Museum of the Marine Corps
Triangle, VA

Following the restoration work we performed for the NMMC ‘s Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber restoration we were contracted to suspend the airframe within the museum’s Leatherneck Gallery.

Once again, we teamed up with iWeiss Theatrical Solutions and Pacific Engineering & Design, PLLC for this project.  Our scope of work included designing and fabricating the airframe rigging attach points that were to be used for suspension.  We also had to design and fabricate the suspension rigging, create the process to suspend the airframe and before the installation perform a complete inspection and load test of the airframe.

This project had many challenges including the design attitude, 30 plus degrees nose down to simulate the SBD going into an attack dive.  An additional problem was that there is a WWII Tarawa Beach landing tableau under the final display location and lighting columns in the area.

Following the load test, which involved installing temporary lifting systems to the building rigging attach points, we lifted the SBD to an altitude that allowed us to place the airframe in the design attitude and inspect all of the fuselage, in particular the attach point area for deformities.  We then lifted the airframe to an altitude that allowed us to “motor bridle” the airframe sidewise and forward towards its design position above the Tarawa Tableau.  Once the SBD was in the general exhibit area we then lifted the airframe into its design altitude and then placed it in its design attitude.

Following a review with the NMMC staff we made any adjustments that were requested and then built and installed the permanent rigging. With the rigging installed we released all of the weight onto the new rigging and removed the lifting systems.