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SB2C-3 "Helldiver"

Shipborne Reconnaissance Bomber


SB2C-3 Helldiver

The long-awaited slight improvement in performance of the SB2C-3 modification was associated with the installation of a more powerful R-2600-20 engine with an improved Curtiss Electric four-blade propeller. By 1944, when the SB2C-3 appeared, the Helldiver had established itself in service and reached an acceptable level of combat readiness, although disasters, structural destruction in flight and incidents when landing on deck took it to one of the first places in terms of the number of accidents.

The SB2C-4 modification, which appeared in the summer of 1944, turned out to be the most numerous of all. From a pilot's point of view, the main difference with this model was that the upper and lower flap sections were perforated and resembled a sieve. This did not affect the drag during dive bombing, but slightly reduced the strong tail bufting, which, according to many pilots, reduced the ability to see the target and interfered with aiming when diving. The combat effectiveness of this modification has increased significantly due to the reinforcement of the wing and the introduction of suspension assemblies for two outboard tanks, or two 227-kg bombs, or eight 127-mm missiles.

The last serial version of the Helldiver was the SB2C-5 with a slightly increased internal fuel capacity (by 132 liters). Most of the modifications made in Columbus were more or less repeated by two Canadian companies.

Years later, after the war, company president Guy Vaughan said it was "one of the largest wartime crosses we had to carry."

After the war, the Heldiver did not suddenly disappear. A number continued to fly in the US Navy reserve and in various test units until at least 1947. The aircraft was frequently used as a target towing vehicle. Other vehicles were used by the French naval aviation, the fleets of Italy and Portugal, the Greek and Thai air forces as attack aircraft. The French Helldivers played a significant role in the Indochina war, which did not subside until 1954.

'Helldiver' SB2C-3 Specification
Crew 2
Wing span, m 15.14
Wing area, m ² 39.2
Length, m 11.18
Height, m 4.49
R-2600-20 (Wright) 1,800 hp (1417kW)
Weight, kg:
Empty weight 4,760
Maximum takeoff weight 7,598
Maximum speed, km/h at altitude 5,180 m 472
Maximum range with bombs load, km 1930
Service ceiling, m 8,140
2 × 20mm cannon in wing (400 cart), 2 × 7.62-mm (2 × 1000 cart.), bombs, kg 907 + 2 × 227
Photo Description
Drawing SB2C-3

Drawing SB2C-3

The SB2C-3 from an aircraft carrier 'Yorktown'

The SB2C-3 from an aircraft carrier "Yorktown" (squadron CV-10).

SB2C Modifications

  • XSB2C-1: First prototype (S/N 1758) with R-2800-8 engine; remade and modified several times; armament of two machine guns in the nose and one mobile machine gun in the rear cockpit:
  • SB2C-1: first production version with four machine guns in the wing (200 built);
  • SB2C-1A: designation applied to A-25A: subsequently reused for 410 US Air Force A-25As transferred to the Marine Corps;
  • SB2C-1C: first modification with 20 mm wing cannons and hydraulic flaps (778 built):
  • XSB2C-2: one aircraft (00005). tested with two floats "Ido" (Edo): conceived as a reconnaissance bomber;
  • XSB2C-3: one aircraft (00008) with R-2600-20 engine;
  • SB2C-3: Production version with R-2600-20 engine. four-blade propeller and APG-4 low-altitude bombing system (1112 vehicles built);
  • SB2C-3E: SB2C-3 aircraft with APS-4 radar (wavelength 3 cm) in a container:
  • SB2C-4: Similar to SB2C-3. but with underwing hardpoints for rockets and bombs with a total weight of 454 kg (2045 vehicles built);
  • SB2C-4E: SB2C-4 with APS-4 radar in a container;
  • XSB2C-5: two modified SB2C-4s with increased internal fuel capacity and other minor changes;
  • SB2C-5: Production variant based on XSB2C-5; (970 built out of an initial order of 2,500 vehicles);
  • XSB2C-6: two completely converted SB2C-3s with longer fuselage, increased fuel capacity and 2100 hp Pratt-Whitney R-2800-28 Double Wasp engine. (1566 kW);
  • SBF-1: Fairchild SB2C-1 (50 built); one aircraft used for testing as XSBF-1;
  • SBF-3: SB2C-3. manufactured by Fairchild (150 cars built);
  • SBF-4E: SB2C-4E manufactured by Fairchild (100 built);
  • SBW-1: SB2C-1. manufactured by Canadian Car & Foundry (38 cars built):
  • SBW-1 B: SB2C-1C. manufactured by Canadian Car & Foundry under lend-lease for the UK (28 cars built, 26 delivered);
  • SBW-3: SB2C-3. manufactured by Canadian Car & Foundry (413 cars built):
  • SBW-4E: SB2C-4E. manufactured by Canadian Car & Foundry (270 cars built);
  • SBW-5: SB2C-5. produced by "Canadian Car & Foundry" (85 cars built, order for 165 cancelled);
  • A-25A Shrike: Army version of the SB2C-1 with various modifications; 900 vehicles were built, 410 of which were transferred to the US Marine Corps. 270 - US Navy and 10 - Australian Air Force;
  • Helldiver Mk.l: designation SBW-1B in Royal Navy aviation: 26 aircraft with numbers JW100...125 were delivered, most of them to squadron No. 1820, but they were abandoned for combat use.


  • "Encyclopedia of military engineering" /Aerospace Publising/
  • "American Warplanes of World War II" /under cor. David Donald/