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The A-24 Banshee was a USAAF dive bomber very closely based on the Douglas SBD Dauntless, the main US Navy dive bomber during the crucial years of the Second World War in the Pacific. It was one of a number of aircraft ordered by the USAAF in the aftermath of the success of the Stuka during the German blitzkrieg in Poland and France in 1939-40, but was never intended to be a main frontline aircraft. It was to be used until more powerful aircraft, such as the Curtiss A-25 (also based on a Navy dive bomber, the SB2C Helldiver), arrived in sufficient numbers. It was also intended to use the A-24 as a dive bomber trainer.
The A-24 had a short service career. At the outbreak of war the basic A-24 was to equip the 27th Bombardment Group, based in the Philippines. The collapse of the American position on the Philippines saw the aircraft diverted to Australia, where it equipped the 91st and 8th Bombardment Groups. The 91st took its aircraft to the Dutch East Indies, the 8th operated from the north coast of Australia. After suffering heavy losses during the first half of 1942, the A-24 was withdrawn to the training role.
A large number of A-24s were produced for the army. The 168 A-24-DEs were followed by 170 A-24As, based on the SBD-4, which arrived in early 1943. The most numerous variant was the A-24B, based on the SBD-5, of which the army received 615 from the middle of 1943. By this time events had revealed that the dedicated dive bomber was dangerously vulnerable to enemy fighters unless given a dedicated fighter escort. While the Navy continued to use its dive bombers in just that manner, the USAAF (like the RAF) switched to the use of the fighter bomber. Aircraft like the Hawker Typhoon or P-47 Thunderbolt could fly the ground attack missions and hold their own against German or Japanese aircraft.
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