In the Museum: Wanted: TLC for Misunderstood Warbird
Challenging the Helldiver’s bad reputation.
- By Rebecca Maksel
- Air & Space magazine, July 2011
(Page 2 of 2)
Museum specialist John Shatz, who will be team chief on the project, estimates the restoration will take 10,250 hours, or approximately 18 months. “The aircraft will appear as it did when assigned to the USS Lexington with [squadron] VB-92 in September 1945,” says Shatz.
Built in Port Columbus, Ohio, the Museum’s SB2C-5 Helldiver was delivered to the Navy in May 1945. After serving as a pool aircraft for a Carrier Aircraft Service Unit in Guam, it was assigned to VB-92 in late 1945 (it was not flown in combat). After several stints in the aircraft pool, in 1948 it was stricken from the Navy’s inventory, at Norfolk, Virginia. It was sent to the Smithsonian, where it remained until 1975, when it was loaned to the National Naval Aviation Museum.
The SB2C-5 represented an improvement over previous variants. A redesigned cockpit grouped all electrically controlled equipment in a console on the pilot’s right side, and all mechanical controls in a console on the left. Instruments were located in panels in front of the pilot. While aircraft builder Curtiss-Wright had hoped to upgrade to a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine and increase the fuselage length by 20 inches, the modifications were scrapped as being too much change at one time.
Of the more than 7,200 Helldivers produced, only a few remain. The one in the Museum’s collection will eventually go on display in the Udvar-Hazy Center, where it will represent the state of U.S. naval technology in the Pacific Theater during World War II.