1943 Coca Cola grocery display sign “Helldiver”. Board measures 13″ x 15″.
The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver was a 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).Neither pilots nor aircraft carrier skippers seemed to like it.
Delays marred its production; by the time the A-25 Shrike variant for the USAAF was deployed in late 1943, the Army Air Forces no longer had a role for a dive bomber. Other factors also contributed in its service introductions, due to the poor handling of the aircraft, both the British Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force cancelled substantial orders for the type.
The Truman Committee investigated Helldiver production and turned in a scathing report, which eventually led to the beginning of the end for Curtiss. Although production problems persisted throughout its combat service, it was reported that some pilots soon changed their minds favorably about the potency of the Helldiver, and in spite of its problems, the aircraft was flown through the last two years of the Pacific War with a fine combat record, due to the high training of its crews.