The theme of this book is the exploration of the theory and practice of dive-bombing, which tactic proved more precise than that of level-flight bombers and more effective than air-launched torpedo attacks against surface ships. It is also the author's purpose to come to a more general conclusion as to the effectiveness of dive-bombing under actual combat conditions. In this regard the words and observations of several dive-bomber aviators have been incorporated. While the best known dive-bomber was the Stuka, the most successful of the major dive-bombing airframes was undoubtedly the American-made Douglas SBD Dauntless that would prove (like most of its type) to be Slow But Deadly - hence the title of this book.
Dive-bombing made a name for itself in the Second World War; some might say it created a legend. The 400-year-long naval dominance of the surface battleship had been transferred almost overnight to the aircraft carrier, thus proving the adage that future wars are often fought with the knowledge and weapons of the past. The Stuka Ju-87 and the Aichi D3As were among the best known aircraft among those who lived through the war. That the Dauntless came out of the war as the premier purpose-designed dive-bomber may be due as much to the fact that the Axis lost the war and the Allies emerged victorious. Yet the SBD had certain innate characteristics that made it great. Slow But Deadly, the SBD sank over 300,000 tons of enemy shipping in the Pacific theater alone. It killed 18 warships from submarines to battleships, and it was the premier killer of aircraft carriers among all other weapons systems sinking six flattops almost entirely without assistance and damaging several more. From May to November 1942, SBDs sank or disabled 30 percent of the naval strength of the Empire of Japan and decimated its carrier air arm causing one authority to declare the Dauntless "the worst enemy of the Imperial Navy of Japan."
I really wanted to be able to write a good review. I’ve been an aviation enthusiast since I was in grade school, and I’ve been hoping there would be more books on subjects such as this, but this book just didn’t meet my expectations. The level of detail was very basic. I learned very little that was new. However, my biggest complaints are the extreme lack of organization, with the text constantly going off on tangents and tangents to tangents, and the “padding” of the text with geo-political history that had nothing to do with the subject, even in the context of providing historical foundation for the development and employment of five bombers. With all the extraneous information that was provided, I would have expected the author would have also said something about the transition from diver bombers to fighter bombers, but there was nothing. Overall, I didn’t get the impression that the author put much effort into this at all.