In-depth profile of the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver

The ‘Beast’, to give one of the Helldiver’s unflattering nicknames, had a troubled gestation, as Matthew Willis reports

The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver is one of the most contradictory aircraft of the Second World War. The naval dive-bomber suffered a truly catastrophic development, leading to calls for its cancellation and political investigation of how the programme had gone so wrong. Yet when it finally reached front-line squadrons, at the start of the US Navy’s triumphant push across the Pacific, it proved to be a dependable and hard-hitting aircraft, capable of more accurate delivery than the Grumman TBF/TBM Avenger and carrying more and heavier bombs than the Douglas SBD Dauntless.

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