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Curtiss SB2C Helldiver

Curtiss SB2C Helldiver Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2005 Title Curtiss SB2C Helldiver
Author Peter C. Smith Publisher The Crowood Press
Published 2004 ISBN 1-86126-710-X
Format 224 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $24.95


The Crowood Press from the UK has released a new title from author Peter Smith covering the development and operational history of the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver.

The Helldiver has been the subject of a variety of written histories in the past, but usually from a service or national point of view. Peter Smith has researched the development and deployment of the aircraft from inception to final retirement from air forces around the world.

The SB2C was designed as a replacement for the "Slow But Deadly" SBD Dauntless, which was based upon a mid 1930s design. As with any aircraft designed in that era, it was quicky overtaken by the leaps and strides of technology in the race for air supremacy. Curtiss was no stranger to divebombing, having deployed a pre-war dive bomber by the same name - the SBC Helldiver.

The SB2C Helldiver had a troubled early life, trying to get into the war as quickly as possible, but trying to deal with a number of stability and structural strength issues arose. However, once the major bugs were worked out of the design, the aircraft made itself known to the Japanese very quickly and effectively.

The coverage of this informative title is presented as follows:.

  • The Development of the Helldiver
  • Rapid Expansion
  • Disaster!
  • Trials and Tests
  • The Helldiver Described
  • The Nadir
  • A New Beginning
  • The Helldiver Goes to Sea
  • Into Battle
  • Stillborn - The Australian Experience
  • Strangled - The British Experience
  • The Helldiver in the Fleet Air Arm
  • The Philippine Sea
  • Leyte Gulf
  • South China Sea
  • Okinawa
  • End of the Road: Japan
  • Flying the Helldiver: The American Experience
  • Post-War Operations
  • A War of Attrition: The French Experience
  • Survivors

If you've wanted only one informative book that shows the history as well as some great photographs on internal and external details of this important aircraft, this is the book you've been waiting for. This title is highly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Motorbooks International for this review sample!