The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver was one of the last lines of aircrafts that were designed and produced for the US Navy during the Second World War. It joined the U.S. Naval fleet in 1943 and was used alongside the Douglas Dauntless in bombing operations. Initially, the Helldiver was met with discontent as the first pilots that flew this larger WW2 aircraft complained of the hard handling and poor stability of the plane. The handling of the Helldiver was so difficult that it earned the nickname of “Son-of-a-Bitch Second Class”.
As WW2 progressed, the U.S. Navy decided to adapt dive bombing tactics and used both the Dauntless and the Helldiver as the lead planes for the operations. The SB2C Helldiver had already undergone more than 880 changes in its design that the U.S. Naval fleet was agreed to use the planes in their bombing missions. Naval pilots still preferred the Dauntless nevertheless and gave the Helldiver nicknames such as the “Big Tailed Beast” or simply as “The Beast”.
As the war progressed, the Douglas Airplane Company decided in 1944 to cease the production of their SBD Dauntless design. The U.S. Naval fleet had no choice but to stick with the Helldivers as their main dive bombers. Fortunately for them, Curtiss had already finished with the new SB2C-3 variant of the Helldiver which boasted of a more powerful engine and a four-blade propeller. It was during this time that the Helldivers became very instrumental in the war as it sank two of the largest Japanese battleships in the Battle of Leyte Gulf and in the Okinawa Campaign. The Helldivers were also instrumental in providing U.S. ground troops with valuable air support during the Pacific island-hopping campaign.
Despite the shortcomings of the SB2C Hellfire, this WW2 aircraft was produced in great numbers that it had a total production of more than 7,000 units. Helldiver squadrons were also undeniably very instrumental in winning the war in the Pacific as it was credited of destroying the greatest number of Japanese targets than those of any other WW2 aircraft.
|Allied Codename:||Helldiver / The Beast / The Big-Tailed Beast / The Son-of-a-bitch 2nd Class|
|Type:||two-man crew dive bomber|
|Design:||Curtiss Airplane Company|
|Engine(s):||1 x 1,900HP Wright R-2600-20 Double-Cyclone air-cooled radial engine|
|Max Speed:||418 km/h (260 mph; 226 knots)|
|Max Range:||1,165 nautical miles (1,875 km)|
|Ceiling:||8,047 meters (26,401 feet; 5.0 miles)|
|Empty Weight:||10,580 lbs|
|Loaded Weight:||16,288 lbs|
|ARMAMENTS||2 x 20mm cannons
2 x 7.62mm machine guns
Up to 2,000lbs external ordinance