Helldiver Debut at Rabaul

Details of the combat debut of the U.S. Navy’s Curtiss SB2C Helldiver dive bomber at the Battle of Rabaul from Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin, February 1944.

HELLDIVER
The Navy’s New Dive Bomber Makes Debut In Smash at Rabaul

The Navy’s newest air weapon, the Curtiss Helldiver (SB2C), is in action. With the Vought Corsair (F4U) and Grumman Hellcat (F6F) fighters and the Grumman Avenger (TBF) torpedo bomber, it completes, to date, the Navy’s war-born aerial attack team. All four planes incorporate the lessons of modern warfare taught by battle experience since Pearl Harbor.

A fifth Navy combat plane placed in service since America entered the war is the Ventura (PV) patrol bomber.

Helldivers on a carrier roll forward to take off.

Helldivers on a carrier roll forward to take off. Official U.S. Navy photographs.

In its first combat action, the 11 November raid on Rabaul, the Helldiver–bigger and heavier than any dive bomber previously used by our armed forces–accounted for the bulk of the extensive toll taken of Jap shipping.

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Perfect SB2C Helldiver Landing

An example of a “Perfect Landing” by an SB2C Helldiver on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier from Naval Aviation News, March 15, 1945.

Perfect Landing

Pilot, landing signal officer, Fly 3 officer and hookman function like precision parts of a well-made machine in a perfect carrier landing. A Navy photographer caught this action.

  • Given a cut by the LSO, an SB2C comes in nicely over the center of the deck; deckmen line the walkway.
  • Arresting wire halts SB2C as Fly 3 officer and hook man sprint out to plane; teamwork speeds operation.
  • Fly 3 officer signals “Hold it” while hookman runs in from rear to free Helldiver from the arresting wire.
  • Fly 3 officer passes plane along to next director, clearing deck for the next plane in traffic pattern.

 

SB2C Helldiver Recovered from California Lake

SB2C HelldiverDivers and salvage crews have successfully raised a WW2 SB2C Helldiver dive bomber from the bottom of a California lake where it crashed in 1945. Now that the plane is free from the mud on the lake bottom, the salvage team will next move the Helldiver to shore. The warplane is expected to be disassembled and send to Florida for restoration and display at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.

The SB2C Helldiver crashed in May 1945 when the engine failed during a training flight. The pilot E.D. Frazar and gunner Joseph Metz survived the ditching safely.

NBC San Diego: Helldiver Is Up From the Deep