I’ve recently finished creating the template of one of World War II’s most maligned aircraft design: the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, also known as the Beast due to its size and looks. Studying the SB2C’s history was very interesting, and shows that some (but not all) of the criticism against the Helldiver and Curtiss was truly justified. It took a very long time for Curtiss to mature the SB2C into an adequate fighting machine and one can only wonder how well it would have fared against the stiffer opposition facing the US Navy in the Pacific earlier in the war – a time when the Helldiver should have already been operational.
This first profile shows an SB2C-4 from VB-83, which was based on USS Essex (CV-9) during operations in Okinawa from March to May 1945. The aircraft was repaired with the rudder from a Helldiver with the earlier three-tone camouflage. The meaning of the half-white spinner is uncertain, but could indicate an element/flight leader.