The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, intended as the U.S. Navy's primary carrier-based dive bomber in WWII, faced developmental challenges leading to a tarnished reputation. Emerging from Curtiss' previous SBC Helldiver, the monoplane Northrop BT-1 inspired the new design, designated SBD Dauntless. In 1938, the Navy sought a successor, resulting in the SB2C's development. However, the SB2C encountered numerous issues, from poor handling to structural weaknesses, delaying production and earning it nicknames like "The Big-Tailed Beast." Despite demand, including orders from the U.S. Army Air Forces and foreign entities, the Helldiver struggled with performance and maintenance problems. The combat debut in 1943 showcased its flaws, and during the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Helldiver's limitations were starkly exposed. Despite improvements with the SB2C-3 model, Vice-Adm. John McCain deemed it unfit for carrier use, favoring fighter-bombers like the F6F Hellcat and F4U Corsair. While later SB2C models showed promise, the dedicated dive-bomber era waned. The Helldiver served until 1950, with surplus units sold to various navies worldwide. France utilized them until 1958, seeing action in conflicts like the Greek civil war and the First Indochina War. The SB2C-5, with improvements like APS-4 radar and additional fuel tanks, offers a tangible glimpse into history. Accepted by the Navy in May 1945, it served in VB-92 aboard the USS Lexington, witnessing the war's end and subsequent service in the western Pacific and occupied Japan. Delivered to the Smithsonian in 1960, the aircraft underwent restorations and stands as a testament to the Helldiver's complex legacy in naval aviation.


Manufacturer Curtiss-Wright Corporation Type Navy Dive Bomber Engine Wright R-2600 Cyclone (1900HP @ takeoff power) Wing Span

49 Feet 9 Inches Length

36 Feet 9 Inches Height

14 Feet 9 Inches Gross Weight

13,674 Pounds Max Takeoff Weight

16,800 Pounds Empty Weight

10,114 Pounds Max. Speed

294 MPH Normal Cruise Speed

Approximately 195 MPH Rate of Climb

1,750 Ft/min Ceiling

25,000 Feet Range

1,200 Miles Crew

2 (pilot, radio operator/gunner) Armament

2X20 MM Cannons with 800 rounds per gun and 2X.30 Caliber Machine Guns with 2,000 rounds per gun Disposable Ordnance Internal bomb bay – up 2000 lbs of bombs, depth charges or a Mk 13-2 torpedo and two under-wing hard points – up to 500 lbs each of bombs, depth charges or unguided rockets Specification from West Texas Wing. https://westtexaswing.com/specifications

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