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I was looking at pictures of WWII planes and noticed that the SBD Dauntless had 3 indentations towards the tip of the wing. What were these for?

SBD Dauntless

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2 Answers 2

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According to "The Dauntless Dive Bomber of World War Two" by Barrett Tillman, they are "letter-box" anti-stall leading edge wing slots added to improve the planes stability when approaching the 78knot stall speed during landings (and take offs, actually.)

The initial versions tended to not be able to build up enough speed during the (catapult-less) take offs from the carriers of WW2, and would simply drop off the front edge of a carrier. Adding the three slots basically fixed (or lowered) the speed of stall.

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  • $\begingroup$ Umm, you were right the first time. Improving the stall speed means lowering it... $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ But why would that work? Does it increase surface area thus increasing lift? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 11:11
  • $\begingroup$ @JonasG.Drange :) That sounds like an EXCELLENT question to ask... $\endgroup$
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 13:02
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This is a better picture showing those indentations (or are they?):

Douglas SBD Dauntless
Image Source

They appear to be wing slots (or leading edge slots). More details are here and here.

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