(Photo courtesy CAF West Texas Wing.
The Curtiss Helldiver, despite a reputation for being difficult to
handle at low speeds, was responsible for the destruction of more Japanese targets than
any other aircraft. The Curtiss SB2C single-engine dive-bomber joined the fleet late in
1943, joining the Douglas Dauntless as the primary attack/bombing
planes for the US Navy. The two-man Helldiver had a top speed of 295 mph and good range,
making it an essential tool in the far reaches of the Pacific war.
With underwing and bomb attachments, the Helldiver
could carry 1,000 pounds of bombs or an internal torpedo; later improvements included an
up-rated Wright Cyclone engine and rocket hard-points. It carried two fixed forward 20mm
cannon and machine guns in the rear cockpit.
Only 26 of the 7,000 Helldivers built found their
way to the other services; the plane was so valuable in the Pacific theater that the Navy
absorbed nearly every plane. Postwar, the Helldiver found further use with the French,
Italian, Greek and Portuguese Navies and the Royal Thai Air Force. Only one airworthy
Helldiver remains -- with the Commemorative Air Force in Texas -- but at least one more is
under restoration to airworthy status.
Engine: One 1,900-hp Wright R-2600-20
Cyclone 14 radial piston engine
Weight: Empty 10,547 lbs., Max
Takeoff 16,616 lbs.
Wing Span: 49ft. 9in.
Length: 36ft. 8in.
Height: 13ft. 2in.
wing-mounted cannon and two 7.62-mm (0.3-inch) machine guns in rear cockpit;
Up to 2,000
pounds of bombs on underwing racks and in fuselage bay.
Number Built: ~7,000
Number Still Airworthy:
Combat Aircraft of the Pacific
Last Dive Bomber -- Article from Aviation History magazine.
Light and Medium Bombers of WWII --
Discussion groups, research information, etc.
Mike Rawson's SB2C
Project, Anoka, Minnesota, USA
Wing's SB2C Helldiver -- Information, tour
schedules and ride information for the only flying Helldiver, operated by the West Texas Wing of the CAF.
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