Century Aviation

Douglas SBD Dauntless – Wings


National Museum of the Marine Corps
Triangle, VA

The Restoration Department of the National Museum of the Marine Corps located in Triangle, VA near the Marine Corps Base Quantico is restoring an SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber.  Century Aviation was contracted to assist this restoration by rebuilding the outer wing panels for the SBD.  This project consisted of taking out every rivet, using any parts that were still serviceable and making skins or components that were not.  Then we reassembled the wings and riveted them back together using over 12 pounds of rivets or approximately 30,000 rivets.  Prior to disassembly, a locating fixture was attached to the wings to insure, upon delivery of the surfaces, they will be able to be installed onto the airframe.

After the SBD wings were completed we also were given the contract to restore the ailerons, outer wing section dive brakes, horizontal stabilizers, rudder and canopy components.

For the ailerons and rudder we removed all of the fabric covering, inspected the structure for condition, made any small repairs or replaced components from previous restorations that were not airworthy and fully preserved their structures.  Then we reassembled the control surfaces and installed new fabric covering and applied the fabric dopes through aluminized dope.

The dive brakes were a mixture of original and non-original components.  Any new parts that we manufactured to replace either poorly fabricated replacement parts or those that are in non-serviceable condition were fabricated using NMMC provided Douglas Co. factory plans and we used period correct materials throughout the process.

Upon disassembly, we needed to determine if the skins on the horizontal stabilizer were new or original and if they were new whether they are manufactured using factory correct materials.  The horizontals were original or of the correct material and needed only to be cleaned and preserved.

The cockpit canopy was also a mixture of original and new parts. All materials that we used to build new parts, such as extrusions, met or exceeded original specifications for quality and structural strength. We inspected the plexiglass components.  They were found to be unusable and we replaced them.

Because we did not have access to the fuselage for fit, finish or the location of the canopy component mounting holes we left the areas common to the fuselage un-drilled.  This allowed the NMMC Restoration Technicians to locate the mounting holes using the existing holes that can be found on the fuselage that they are restoring.

When the work described was complete we shipped of all of the components and wings back to NMMC Restoration to be incorporated in to the SBD.