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Osprey Combat Aircraft 3 : Helldiver Units of World War 2

The most numerous Allied dive-bomber of World War 2, the Curtiss Helldiver endured a prolonged gestation period to mature into one of the most effective aircraft of its type to see service in the Pacific theatre of war. Some 7200 aircraft were built between 1942 and 1945, the type making its service debut over Rabaul on 11 November 1943 in the hands of VB-17, this unit flying SB2C-1Cs from the deck of USS Bunker Hill. At that time, the aircraft was still inferior in many respects to the Douglas SBD Dauntless, the very aircraft it was meant to replace! Despite being drastically improved over the next two years, the Helldiver retained an unenviable reputation 'around the boat', with more aircraft being lost in deck landing accidents than to enemy action - its unpleasant flying characteristics near to the stall earned it the nickname 'The Beast', while aircrews who flew the type in combat grimly joked that its designation (SB2C) stood for 'Son of a Bitch, 2nd Class'. Although hated by the myriad crews sent into combat strapped to a Helldiver, the bomber was responsible for the destruction of more Japanese targets than any other dive-bomber. Text by Barrett Tillman with illustrations by Tom Tullis.

    Contents
  • Development and Fleet Service
  • Into Combat
  • Nightmare in the Marianas
  • Decision at Leyte
  • Tokyo and Beyond
  • Other Users
  • SB2C in Perspective
  • Appendices

 

Osprey Combat Aircraft


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