Designed as a light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, various versions of the Dauntless served workhorse of the US Navy in the Pacific. The Dauntless dive-bomber was the only plane to fight in every major Pacific engagement. The SBD-3, sarcastically nicknamed “Speedy Three”, entered service in March 1941 with production ending in July 1944, by which time a total of 5,936 had been built in all versions.
Aircraft BuNo. 4687 from the USS Enterprise (The Big E) (CV-6) was flown by the Lt. Richard H. Best, commanding officer of VB-6. On June 4, 1942 while flying Black B-1 from Bombing Six, Best and Murray took part in two sorties that day. The first mission took place in the morning against the IJNS Akagi and Kaga. In the afternoon they helped with the sinking of IJNS Hiryu. During the operation Best inhaled caustic fumes from a faulty oxygen bottle damaging his lungs and forcing him into early retirement from active duty.