Hobby Master HA2203 USN Curtiss SB2C-4E Helldiver Dive-Bomber - VB-84, USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), Tokyo Raids, February 1945 [Open Dive Brakes] (1:72 Scale)
"I once took off, and just after I left the deck my gunner, Russ Dustan, yelled "Hey George! Get this son of a bitch in the air!" and he pulled out his life raft because we were leaving a streak in the water behind us. I knew we were getting close. I was trying to scratch for altitude and get my gear up. When you're running out of speed and running out of room... it gets a little complicated at times."
- US Navy Ensign George Bomberger, pilot of a SB2C Helldiver aircraft aboard USS Franklin, late 1943
The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver was an American aircraft carrier-based dive bomber aircraft produced for the United States Navy during World War II. It replaced the Douglas SBD Dauntless in US Navy service. Despite its size, the SB2C was much faster than the SBD it replaced. Crew nicknames for the aircraft included the Big-Tailed Beast (or just the derogatory Beast), Two-Cee and Son-of-a-Bitch 2nd Class (after its designation and partly because of its reputation for having difficult handling characteristics).
Although production problems persisted throughout its combat service, pilots soon changed their minds about the potency of the Helldiver.
The large number (literally thousands) of modifications and changes on the production line meant that the Curtiss Helldiver did not enter combat until November 11th, 1943, with VB-17 on the USS Bunker Hill, when they attacked the Japanese-held port of Rabaul on the island of New Britain, north of Papua New Guinea. Even though the Helldiver entered U.S. Naval service, it still had such structural problems that the aircraft crews were forbidden to dive bomb in clean conditions (one of its main tasks). The SB2C-1 could deploy slats mechanically linked with undercarriage actuation extended from the outer third of the wing leading edge to aid lateral control at low speeds. The early prognosis of the "Beast" was unfavourable as it was strongly disliked by aircrews because it was much bigger and heavier than the SBD it replaced.
The litany of faults that the Helldiver bore included the fact that it was underpowered, had a shorter range than the SBD, was equipped with an unreliable electrical system and was often poorly manufactured. An oddity of the SB2Cs with 1942 to 1943-style tricolor camouflage was that the undersides of the outer wing panels carried dark topside camouflage because the undersurfaces were visible from above when the wings were folded.
Postwar, surplus aircraft were sold to the navies of France, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Thailand.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a USN Curtiss SB2C-4E Helldiver dive-bomber that was operated by VB-84, then embarked upon the USS Bunker Hill, which participated in the air raids over Tokyo during February 1945. Note: Dive brakes come in the open position.
Release Date: March 2009
Historical Account "Holiday Express" - USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) was an Essex-class aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, sometimes nicknamed the "Holiday Express" for her many attacks launched around the end of the year.
Reporting to the Pacific in the fall of 1943, Bunker Hill participated in carrier operations during the Rabaul strike (November 11th, 1943); Gilbert Islands operation, including support of the landings on Tarawa Atoll (November 13th - December 8th); the Kavieng strikes in support of the Bismarck Archipelago operation (December 25th, 1943, January 1st and 4th, 1944); Marshall Islands operation (January 29th - February 8th); strikes against Truk (February 17th - 18th), during which eight Japanese combatant vessels were sunk; Marianas raid (February 23rd); Palau-Yap-Ulithi-Woleai raids (March 30th - April 1st); Truk-Satawan-Ponape raids (April 29th - May 1st); Hollandia (currently known as Jayapura) operation (April 21st - 28th); and Marianas operation (June 12th - August 10th), including the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
On June 19th, 1944, during the opening phases of the Marianas battle, Bunker Hill was damaged when an enemy near-miss scattered shrapnel fragments across the ship. Two men were killed and over 80 were wounded. Bunker Hill continued to fight, with her aircraft shooting down some of the 476 Japanese aircraft destroyed during the battle, and assisting in the sinking of a Japanese carrier. During September, she participated in the Western Caroline Islands operation and then launched strikes at Okinawa, Luzon, and Formosa until November.
On November 6th, Bunker Hill retired from the forward area and steamed to Bremerton, Washington, for a period of yard availability. Repairs completed, she departed the west coast of the United States on January 24th, 1945 and returned to the war front.
During the remaining months of World War II, Bunker Hill participated in the Battle of Iwo Jima: the 5th Fleet raids against Honshu and the Nansei Shoto (February 15th – March 4th); and the 5th and 3rd Fleet raids in support of the Battle of Okinawa. On April 7th, 1945, Bunker Hill's planes took part in a Fast Carrier Task Force attack on a Japanese naval force in the East China Sea. The Japanese battleship Yamato, one cruiser, and four destroyers were sunk during Operation Ten-Go.