Douglas A-24 in USAAF Service

Last revised August 26, 2000


Unfortunately, the Army A-24 version of the Douglas dive bomber never achieved the degree of success as did its Navy SBD counterpart. After a few rather unsuccessful combat missions in the East Indies, the A-24 was withdrawn from operational use and allocated to secondary training and support roles.

The first A-24 was delivered to the Army on June 17, 1941. The first operational A-24 unit was the new 27th Bombardment Group (L) based at Savannah, Georgia. Three of the four squadrons of the 27th BG were equipped with the A-24, plus one squadron of the 3rd Bombardment Group. The remaining squadrons of these groups were equipped with A-20A twin-engined level bombers.

The 27th BG was in the process of been shipped to the Philippines when the war in the Pacific broke out. The crews were in the Philippines, but their aircraft were on their way via ship from Honolulu. The shipment was diverted to Australia, where they arrived on December 22. Some of the 27th BG pilots were evacuated from the Philippines to join their aircraft in Australia. Eleven A-24s flew up to Java in February of 1942, but this battle was already lost. The remainder began operations from Port Moresby with the 8th Bombardment Squadron on April 1, 1942. These units suffered heavy losses in the face of the Japanese advance. After five of seven A-24s were lost on their last mission (July 29), the A-24s were withdrawn from action as being too slow, too short-ranged, and too poorly armed. However, in all fairness to the A-24, their pilots had not been trained in dive-bombing operations and they often had to operate without adequate fighter escort.

The A-24 was tentatively named *Banshee* by the Army, but this name never seems to have really caught on. The A-24 was never very popular with its crews, and most of them were retained in the USA for training duties. Following the New Guinea debacle, only one other squadron was to take the A-24 into combat. This was the 58th Bombardment Squadron (Dive), based at Wheeler Field in Hawaii. After carrying out an attack on Kiska Island in the Aleutians on August 4, 1943, the 58th BG was transferred to the Gilbert Islands and redesignated the 531st Fighter-Bomber Squadron. In December of 1943, The 531st fighter Bomber Squadron operated their A-24Bs briefly but successfully from bases in the Makin Islands.

No attempt was made by the USAAF to deploy A-24s to the CBI, ETO, or MTO theatres.

After the war, several A-24s still remained in service with the USAAF. When the A-for-attack designation was eliminated in 1948, the few surviving A-24s were redesignated F-24, in the fighter sequence.

Sources:


  1. American Combat Planes, Third Enlarged Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982.

  2. The Dauntless Dive Bomber of World War II, Barrett Tillman

  3. McDonnel Douglas Aircraft Since 1920: Volume 1, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1988.