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
uprated Wright Cyclone engine and rocket hardpoints. 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 theatre 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.
Son-of-a-Bitch Second Class.
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.
Maximum Speed: 295 mph
Cruising Speed: 158 mph
Ceiling: 29,100 ft.
Range: 1,165 miles
Two 20-mm 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 Still Airworthy: