Curtiss SB2C Helldiver Color Photographs Part II

SB2C_01
A factory-fresh Helldiver in the “three-tone” standard camouflage which actually consisted of up to five tones. In this photograph the subtle difference between the Non Specular Sea Blue on the wing leading edge and the Semi-Gloss Sea Blue on the wing upper surface is visible if you look closely.
SB2C_02
The Helldiver was not popular. The Navy demanded 880 changes from Curtiss before the design was accepted; crews labeled it the “Beast” due to persistent controllability problems and maintenance issues. Initial carrier qualifications aboard the USS Yorktown (CV-10) were a disaster – she deployed with the SBD Dauntless instead and her Captain stated that the best use for the Helldiver was as an anchor.
SB2C_03
The Helldiver crew consisted of a pilot who was an Officer and an enlisted gunner / radioman. This photograph shows their standard USN flight gear. The Navy’s leading ace CDR David McCampbell stated that he felt sorry for the crews assigned to fly the Helldiver.
SB2C_04_Matanikau_MAR45
An SB2C-4 aboard the Casablanca-class Escort Carrier USS Matanikau (CVE-101) in March 1945. The Matanikau was used to train naval aviators, hence the large Orange Yellow “buzz numbers” under the aircraft’s port wing. Helldivers were only used from the large fleet carriers in combat, being tricky to handle at low speeds.
SB2C_05
A beautiful LIFE Magazine photograph of a Helldiver in flight. The numbers on the nose were to aid in delivering the aircraft to the forward areas, these were usually (but not always) removed when the aircraft was assigned to a squadron.
SB2C_06
Seen from an unusual angle, the style and position of the national insignia date this photograph to the first half of 1943. Note the Intermediate Blue which wraps around the front of the cowling, a detail which is sometimes overlooked. (World War Photos)
SB2C_07
The leading edge of each wing was equipped with a slat to improve lift at low speeds. These were interlocked with the landing gear so that whenever the landing gear was lowered the slats were deployed.
SB2C_08
Another LIFE Magazine photograph showing a white AN/APS-4 radar pod under the starboard wing. This is an SB2C-5, the last production model. An Essex-class carrier is underway in the background, her camouflage indicating a post-war photograph.
SB2C_09_Hancock_NOV45
An SB2C-3 over a battle group, escorted by a Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat. The horseshoe marking identifies this Helldiver as being assigned to VB-7 operating from the USS Hancock (CV-17).
SB2C_10_Luzon_1945
An Army A-25A Shrike is seen at Luzon in the Philippines with a B-25 Mitchell in the background. The Shrike did not see combat with the USAAF but was used in secondary roles.

Helldiver Prototype color photographs here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/09/30/curtiss-xsb2c-1-helldiver-prototype-color-photographs/

Curtiss SB2C Helldiver Color Photographs Part I

All photographs from the NASM Hans Groenhoff Collection

SB2C_01_HG
The XSB2C-1 prototype first flew on 18DEC40, here we see the aircraft in its original configuration over a snowy landscape, resplendent in the Yellow Wings scheme. Notice the shape of the tail and the width of the panel between the cowling flaps and firewall.
SB2C_02_HG
Here is the XSB2C-1 prototype BuNo 1758 again, as re-built after August 1941. Here we see the engine has been moved forward 12 inches (30 cm) and the area of the vertical stabilizer has been increased. More photos of the prototype in this configuration are posted here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/09/30/curtiss-xsb2c-1-helldiver-prototype-color-photographs/
SB2C_03_HG
A fine study of an SB2C-4 from the nose. There is a Yagi radar aerial under each wing and the leading edge slats are extended. The Zinc Chromate Green primer on the landing gear and covers shows clearly. The yellow warning tips on the propeller blades have an unusual stripe.
SB2C_04_HG
The same aircraft from a different angle. The interior of the wing fold is also in Zinc Chromate Green primer, unlike the wing folds of the Avenger which were painted in the upper surface camouflage color. Recognition lights are carried under the end of the starboard wing.
SB2C_05_HG
A posed photograph of the wing 20 mm cannon being “loaded” on an SB2C-4. The aircraft carries a large identification number 254 for its delivery flight on the nose. In the background we can see that aircraft carries the number 2625 in an unusual script on her tail. Also notice the wing fold color on the background aircraft is red.
SB2C_05b_HG
Another view of 254 from the same series, this time with the wings folded. Note the interior of the wing fold on this aircraft is painted in the Zinc Chromate Green primer.
SB2C_06_HG
Another SB2C-4 but this time in an overall Orange Yellow scheme.
SB2C_07_HG
The USAAF also operated the Helldiver as the A-25A Shrike. Note the repetition of the serial number under the wing of “Torchy Tess”.
SB2C_08_HG
An in-flight shot of 41-18774 in her standard Olive Drab over Neutral Gray camouflage with Medium Green splotches.
SB2C_09_HG
Nose and landing gear details of an A-25A Shrike. 900 Shrikes were produced, cut down from an initial order of 3,000 as the USAAF learned that fighter-bombers were more effective and versatile than dedicated dive bomber designs.
SB2C_10_HG
Forward fuselage details showing the red stenciling and canopy details. No USAAF Shrikes saw combat, many were passed on to the USMC which used them mainly in training and auxiliary roles.
SB2C_11_HG
The Royal Australian Air Force ordered 140 Shrikes but cancelled the order after receiving the first 10. While the color of this negative has shifted it does show the RAAF markings to good advantage.
SB2C_12_HG
The Curtiss production line showing the different primer shades used on the various components. National insignia have already been applied even though the final camouflage colors have not. A-25A serial number 41-18774 can be seen in the background.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/10/14/curtiss-sb2c-helldiver-color-photographs-part-ii/