he 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.
* Crew: Two, pilot and radio operator/gunner * Length: 36 ft 9 in (11.2 m) * Wingspan: 49 ft 9 in (15.2 m) * Height: 14 ft 9 in (4.5 m) * Wing area: 422 ft² (39.2 m²) * Empty weight: 10,114 lb (4,588 kg) * Loaded weight: 13,674 lb (6,202 kg) * Max takeoff weight: 16,800 lb (7,600 kg) * Powerplant: 1× Wright R-2600 Cyclone radial engine, 1,900 hp (1,400 kW)
* Maximum speed: 294 mph (473 km/h) * Range: 1,200 miles (1,900 km) * Service ceiling: 25,000 ft (7,600 m) * Rate of climb: 1,750 ft/min (8.9 m/s)
* Guns: o 2 × 20 mm (.79 in) cannon in the wings o 2 × 0.30 in (7.62 mm) M1919 Browning machine guns in the rear cockpit * Bombs: in internal bay: 2,000 lb (900 kg) of bombs or 1 × Mark 13-2 torpedo on underwing hardpoints: 500 lb (225 kg) of bombs each
And let's get one thing straight. There's a big difference between a pilot and an aviator. One is a technician; the other is an artist in love with flight. — E. B. Jeppesen