THE SB2C Helldiver, which was the third Curtiss dive bomber to carry the name, became an effective attack plane late in the war, after a long development and debugging period. The XSB2C-1 flew in December 1940, but the production version didn't appear until June 1942. The design was seriously handicapped by contradictory Navy requirements, with dimensions limited by aircraft carrier space requirements and performance handicapped by the required military payload and equipment. Helldiver operations began in the Pacific in November 1943.
Helldivers were built in great variety. The 200 SB2C-1S ("SB" for Scout Bomber) were armed with four .50-caliber machine guns in the wings, two power-driven .50s in the rear cockpit, a 1,000-pound bomb in an internal bomb bay and an additional 1,000 pounds of bombs under the wings. Wing area was 422 square feet and gross weight was 16,607 pounds. Top outer wing panels carried dark topside camouflage because the undersurfaces were visible from above when the wings were folded.
The U.S. Army ordered 900 SB2C-1s under the designation of A-25A. These were built in Curtiss' existing St. Louis plant instead of the Columbus, OH, plant that had been built for SB2C production. Ten A-25As were sent to the Royal Australian Air Force, but they were rejected.
The 410 SB2C-1As were A-25As that were transferred to the U.S. Marines for use as trainers. The 778 SB2C-1Cs ("C" for Cannon) were successors to the SB2C-1, with two 20mm cannon substituting for the four .50-caliber machine guns in the wings. This was the standard armament for subsequent Helldivers. The single XSB2C-2 was a twin-float seaplane that wasn't successful.
The 1,112 SB2C-3s were improved structurally and aerodynamically and used four-blade propellers on
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