SB2C Helldiver


Perforated diving flaps and under wing studs for eight 5-inch rockets introduced on some later SB2C-3s were standard on the SB2C-4, which also added a spinner to the four-bladed prop, a 35-pound armor plate under the engine, and wing racks for two 500-pound bombs. From June 1944 to March 1945, 2,045 SB2C-4s were delivered, including some designated SB2C-4E with an APS-4 radar pod under the right wing to replace the older ASB Yagi system.

Delivery began in February 1945 on 970 SB2C-5s with a larger fuel capacity and standard APS-4 radar provisions. Two XSB2C-6s, ordered February 9, 1944, were converted from SB2C-1Cs, but appeared with the 2,100-hp R-2600-22 and revised fuselage in August 1945.

The warís end terminated plans for 1,560 more SB2C aircraft. When Helldiver deliveries ended on October 29, 1945, 5,106 had been finished at Columbus, and 900 A-25As had been built for the Air Force at St. Louis.

In addition, two Canadian factories had produced Helldivers beginning with a contract placed on May 23, 1942, with the Canadian Car and Foundry company at Fort William, Ontario, for 1,000 dive-bombers designated SBW, including 450 scheduled for Britainís Fleet Air Arm (FAA). The first SBW-1 accepted in September 1943 was identical to the SB2C-1C. CURTISS SB2C-5 with APS-4

Only 26 SBW-1B versions were turned over to the Royal Navy by February 1944, when the United States Navy required all the remaining Canadian dive-bombers. One FAA squadron, No. 1820, was formed in the United States in April 1944, and trained at NAS Squantum until shipped with ten planes to Britain in July, but was dissolved in December without any combat use.

The U.S. Navy took delivery of 40 SBW-1, 413 SBW-3, 270 SBW-4, and 85 SBW-5 bombers built by September 1945. In addition, Fairchild of Canada built 50 SBF-1, 150 SBF-3, and 100 SBF-4E airplanes, for a total of 1,134 Hell≠divers built in Canada.

Helldiver squadrons served on each of the 20 large carriers in commission by July 1, 1945, but were not used by any of the light or escort carriers. Three shore-based squadrons had the SB2C-4E and several Marine squadrons had the SB2A-5. Post-war Navy SB2A-5s were gradually replaced by the Douglas AD-1, the last, from squadron VA-54, was not retired from service until June 1949. CURTISS SB2C-4

Greece was given 49 SB2A-5s in August 1949 for use in the civil war, while Italy got 42 in 1950, as well as another 46 Helldivers intended for the Italian Navy in September 1953 that never actually entered service. Portugal also got 24 in 1950 and Thailand was shipped six in June 1951.

The fiercest combat, however, was seen by 48 SB2A-5s sold to the French Navy and sent to Vietnam on the carrier Arromanches in 1951. Although there was no enemy air force, they bombed the Viet Cong until the final French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954.