Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless  BuNo 2106
National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola, Florida - December 2000
This particular aircraft is a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor, having been stranded on Ford Island for repairs at the time of the attack. Assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington (CV 2), BuNo 2106 fought in the Battle of the Coral Sea in early 1942, but she suddenly found herself without a home when the Lexington was sunk. The aircraft was then transferred to the Marine Corps and stationed on the island of Midway. Flying from Midway, she helped sink the last of the four carriers the Japanese put forth for that battle: the IJN Hiryu. The SBD returned to Midway riddled with 219 bulletholes in her and only one functional landing gear, due the the aircraft's hydraulic system being shot away, which resulted in a crash landing back on the island. For their heroic actions during the Battle of Midway, the plane's pilot, 1st Lt. Daniel Iverson, Jr., received a Navy Cross, while his radioman/gunner, PFC Wallace J. Reid (wounded in the back and arms), received a Disitinguished Flying Cross (DFC).
Normally, an aircraft receiving such damage would have been written off, but this one was not. BuNo 2106 was shipped back to the West Coast and restored before being sent to the Carrier Qualification Training Unit at NAS Glenview, Illinois, where pilots used her to learn to land on one of two training carriers, Sable and Wolverine, in Lake Michigan. On June 11, 1943, 2nd Lt. Donald A. Douglas, Jr., USMCR, received a wave-off on approach to the carrier Sable and applied power to go around. The engine roared back to life, began to sputter and lose power, but then caught again. As Lt. Douglas was already in a climbing turn with insufficient power, the aircraft stalled out and spun into the lake. Lt. Douglas survived, but BuNo 2106 settled to the bottom in 170 feet of water, where she was left to rest.
In October 1993, BuNo 2106 was discovered on the bottom of Lake Michigan and efforts began to recover her out of the lake. She was eventually raised from her watery grave and brought to the National Museum of Naval Aviation in January 1994, where the staff and volunteers put in over 70,000 man-hours restoring her for display. As she is a veteran of the first three major battles of the Pacific War, and most importantly as one of only four surviving aircraft from the attack on Pearl Harbor, BuNo 2106 can proudly take her place as one of the most historically significant naval aircraft in the world.