SB2C Helldiver Mishaps Part II

A VB-18 Helldiver seen flat on the deck of the USS Intrepid (CV-11). The flight deck shows no visible damage but the prop tips are bent.
The US Navy continued to operate the Helldiver briefly in the post-war era. Here an SB2C-5 comes to a spectacular end aboard the USS Kersarge (CV-33) in September 1948.
A VB-92 Helldiver goes over the side of the USS Lexington (CV-16) with a second Essex-class carrier in the background. US Navy doctrine at the time was to operate carriers in Battle Groups of four, along with numerous escorts.
Another mishap aboard the USS Lexington (CV-16) as the prop of this Helldiver chews up the deck. On advantage of the wooden deck is that it could be repaired quickly.
Crash crews aboard the USS Hornet (CV-12) respond quickly as this VB-2 Helldiver impacts the island.
The Helldiver was notoriously hard to control at low speeds resulting in another collision with the after 5”/38 gun mounts aboard the USS Wasp (CV-18).
With a long nose and a short tail the Helldiver displayed a tendency to nose over if the tailhook missed the arresting wires but the landing gear did not. This mishap occurred aboard the USS Shangri-La (CV-38) on 13MAR45.
A Helldiver hangs suspended over the side of the USS Intrepid (CV-11) on 30OCT44 after the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The odd thing is the tail markings indicate the aircraft was assigned to the USS Hancock (CV-19) at the time.
A view of the same Helldiver from below shows just how precarious the situation is. Aside from the bent prop the aircraft appears relatively undamaged.
This SB2C-4E has come in too low and struck the ramp of the USS Shangri-La (CV-38).

Part I here:

SB2C Helldiver Mishaps Part I

A Helldiver noses over next to the island structure of the USS Hancock (CV-19) revealing details of the underside. Modelers should note the oil staining from the radial engine and the cordite streaks on the wings from the shell casing chutes for the 20 mm cannon.
The tail gunner of this SB2C-1 searches for the missing tail of his Helldiver after recovering aboard the USS Bunker Hill (CV-17). The aircraft is from VB-17 during her workups on 19JUL43. VB-17 would fly their Helldivers against the Japanese at Rabaul in November during the type’s first combat action.
This overall Glossy Sea Blue Helldiver has nosed over and bent its prop, as well as damaging the wooden deck to the right of the frame. The deck crew appears interested in the starboard wheel.
Fire crews move in on this SB2C aboard the USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). The fuselage has suffered a structural failure just behind the cockpit.
This Helldiver from VB-15 appears to have lost its tail surfaces due to a collision with another aircraft. Ideally recovered aircraft would have been spotted forward of a wire crash barrier to prevent just such an occurrence but this one did not make it in time. The carrier is the USS Hornet (CV-12) on 02JAN44 during work-ups.
The tail hook has missed the wire but the landing gear did not, causing this Helldiver to nose over aboard the USS Ticonderoga (CV-14), January 1945.
An SB2C-1 of VB-17 misses the wire and careens into the island of the USS Bunker Hill (CV-17).
The geometric triangle recognition symbol identifies this SB2C-4 as belonging to VB-87 from the USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). The aircraft went into the water on 06JUN45.
Another USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) Helldiver having a bad day. The leading edge extension on the outer wings were interlocked with the landing gear and extended to increase lift at low speed.
A training accident aboard USS Charger (CVE-30) has left this SB2C-3 of VB-82 over the side with damage to the wing. The crew has already thrown the pilot a life ring. Escort carriers did not operate the Hellcat in combat.
The SB2C-4E has lost her engine after impacting the after 5”/38 twin turret on the deck of the USS Lexington (CV-16).
This SB2C-4E has become tangled in the arresting wires aboard USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). By this time the Ticonderoga’s airgroup has traded in their geometric triangle recognition symbol for the more easily described letter “V”.

Part II here:

Curtiss SB2C Helldiver Color Photographs Part II

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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).
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:

Curtiss SB2C Helldiver Color Photographs Part I

All photographs from the NASM Hans Groenhoff Collection

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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another SB2C-4 but this time in an overall Orange Yellow scheme.
The USAAF also operated the Helldiver as the A-25A Shrike. Note the repetition of the serial number under the wing of “Torchy Tess”.
An in-flight shot of 41-18774 in her standard Olive Drab over Neutral Gray camouflage with Medium Green splotches.
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.
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.
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.
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:

Curtiss XSB2C-1 Helldiver Prototype Color Photographs

Here is a nice selection of original color photographs of the Curtiss XSB2C-1 Helldiver prototype, Navy Bureau Number 1758.  These are from the NASM Archives, Rudy Arnold Collection.

BuNo 1758 was completed on 13DEC40 in time to wear the Navy’s colorful Yellow Wing scheme.  Foreshadowing a troubled program, the prototype suffered three crashes.  On 09FEB41 the prototype sustained minor damage due to an engine failure but was repaired, only to be damaged again due to landing gear failure May.  The aircraft was rebuilt at this point to reduce engine overheating and stability problems.  The forward fuselage was lengthened by one foot (30 cm) in an effort to improve stability.  When this proved insufficient the vertical tail surface was enlarged.  Cooling flaps and propeller cuffs were installed and an oil cooler scoop was added under the cowl.  The prototype was lost to structural failure during dive tests on 21DEC41.

Although some sources claim these pictures were taken during the aircraft’s maiden flight, the modifications noted above are present fixing the date as AUG41 at the earliest.  The Curtiss-Wright test pilot seen here is Robert Fausel.  Interestingly, earlier Fausel was credited with destroying a Japanese bomber over China as a civilian Curtiss factory representative.

More color Helldiver photographs here: