SB2C Helldiver

You Tube – SB2C Helldiver

Primary Function:
Weight Empty:
Max. Weight:
Machine Guns:
Cruise Speed:
Max. Speed:
Climb Rate:
Year Deployed:
dive bomber
Wright R2600
1,900 h.p.
10,115 lbs.
16,800 lbs.
3,000 lbs.
2 x .20 mm
2 x .30 cal.
36 ft. 9 in.
49 ft. 9 in.
180 mph
294 mph
1,750 fpm
25,000 feet
1,200 miles

SB2C Helldiver

SB2C Helldiver

The SB2C Helldiver was the third and last Curtiss built aircraft bearing the name. It played a significant part in contributing to the Allied victory during World War II. The SB2C Helldiver was one of the most successful U.S. Navy dive bombers of the War. It first saw action against shipping off the Japanese held island of Rabaul in November of 1943. It also took part in the battles of the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf. Helldiver aircraft are credited with hits on the Japanese battleships Yamato and Musashi contributing to their eventual sinking, in addition to many other enemy ships. Although the aircraft had a number of deficiencies when originally introduced, these were overcome with progressive model updates.

Pilots appreciated the long range of the SB2C Helldiver and relatively large ordnance payload, carried under its wings and internally for drag reduction. Later models had more powerful engines and could be armed with rockets.

The SB2C Helldiver continued to serve as the sole bomber aircraft of the U.S. Navy after World War II through 1948. It was also operated by France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Thailand.

French Navy SB2C Helldiver aircraft again saw action in the Indo-China theatre where they continued in service through 1955.

We received the following email from Don Johnson – “Hello, Thank you for a great website. My grandfather, Donald Johnson, was a U. S. Navy instructor for the SB2C Helldiver. I have notes he made from those days which have been saved through the years. Perhaps your readers would be interested in them:
Cold Start – Auto pilot ignition and starter switches set to off. Mixture control at idle cutoff. Throttle at 1,200 rpm. Landing gear checked for locked and down. Propeller pulled through three of four times to clear combustion chamber. Cowl flaps at full open. Fuel tank selector to “fuselage”. Propeller switches to on and automatic. Propeller control pushed all the way down for full increase. Carburetor air to direct position. Primer breaker, battery, generator, starter breaker, and fuel gauges switches toggled to on. Ignition switch set to both. Starter toggled and held on for about 20 seconds. Toggle on auxiliary fuel pump to get 6 to 7 lbs. pressure. Toggle electric primer pump switch to on for 1 to 3 seconds. Set mixture control all the way forward to full rich. Toggle starter switch to on until engine starts. When cold, use the primer switch to keep the engine running until it smooths out. Do not move the throttle from 1,200 rpm until the engine runs smoothly with the propeller set in low pitch until the oil temperature reaches 55 degrees and cylinder head temps at least 130 degrees. Engine oil pressure must be at least 30 lbs. within 30 seconds of start.

To spread wings turn control handle to left and hold. With wings fully extended, lock into place by pushing control handle fully forward.

With engine fully warmed up, throttle is advanced to get 30 inches of manifold pressure at 1,900 rpm. A magneto check is now performed. Prop switch is put in automatic position.

To taxi, brakes are used sparingly. They do not work by increasing pressure on the peddles, but by constant pumping of the peddles increasing their effectiveness. Go through takeoff list. Set rudder 7 degrees right to counter engine torque. Lock the rudder wheel once centered on the runway. Takeoff manifold pressure is 44 ½ inches and engine rpm is 2,100. Once brakes are released, prompt rudder action keeps the aircraft centered on the runway. Without flaps, the tail wheel lifts at about 55 kts. The SB2C Helldiver will fly itself off of the runway at about 80 kts. depending on weight. After takeoff, manifold pressure is reduced to 35 inches and prop rpm to 2,400. Best climb speed is between 120 and 140 kts. Manifold pressure will decrease with altitude. For climbs over 10,000 ft. select “high supercharger”.

Flying the SB2C Helldiver: While not overly sensitive to control inputs, the aircraft must always be flown. It can not be trimmed for hands off flying. All stalls will develop with a heavy left wing, finally rolling to the left. With prompt recovery, there is little tendency to spin. However, if the stall continues, it can roll up to 60 degrees and go into a diving spin. While recovery may take a while from such a spin, it is not difficult once flying speed is reached.

Terminal speed in dives, with dive flaps deployed, is about 300 mph. The SB2C Helldiver can loop from level flight with an entry speed of around 215 kts. Slow rolls are entered at around 195 kts. and an Immelmann maneuver should be started at around 245 kts.

Landings: Go through checklist. Flaps can be extended once speed is below 132 kts. Final approach speed is around 90 kts. Brakes should applied smoothly after landing to maintain control. Once a safe taxi speed is established, the tail wheel can be unlocked. RPM for taxi should be no more than 1,200 rpm. Once parked, idle the engine from 600 to 800 rpm until the cylinder head temperature is around 150 degrees. Then advance the throttle to 1,000 rpm for one minute to clear oil from the engine. Move mixture control to idle cutoff. Once the propeller stops turning, turn off the ignition switch, close the fuel selector valve, and be sure that all toggle switches are in their off positions.”

Don, thank you very much for sending us your grandfather’s SB2C Helldiver historical notes.

A total of 894 SB2C Helldiver aircraft were produced.


RC SB2C Helldiver

RC SB2C Helldiver

The RC SB2C Helldiver from Jerry Bates Plans and has a 80 in. wingspan with a weight of around 18 lbs. A 1.08 two cycle engine is the recommended power choice.

Jerry Bates Plans has a giant scale 100 in. wingspan RC SB2C Helldiver. Weight is around 28 lbs. with the recommended G62 engine.

Cleveland Models has RC SB2C Helldiver plans for sale with wingspans of 25, 37, 49 1/2, 74, and giant scale 99 and 148 inches.

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