If you decide to attend the 2012 Crossville Fly-In and Open House at Crossville Memorial Airport on Sept. 29, you will be able to inspect, up close, one of the last line of aircraft developed for the U.S. Navy, specifically designed for the role of dive bombing.
A Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, one of only three still intact, and the only one still in the air, will be at the Crossville Fly-In. By and large, the aircraft that operated from U.S. Navy aircraft carriers after 1942, were markedly superior to the their Japanese counterparts.
Marine fliers found they could achieve a far greater degree of precision by releasing their bombs while aiming their planes directly at their targets in a steep dive of 70 degrees or more. Dive-bombing was officially adopted by the Navy as a regular part of its operational repertoire in 1928.
The Helldiver had wings that folded up, so it could be lowered into the belly of the aircraft carrier for transportation. It was developed to replace the Douglas SBD Dauntless. Many children grew up playing with small toy replicas of the Hellbomber with its foldable wings.
It was the largest of the aircrafts that were able to operate from the deck of an aircraft carrier. It could also carry a considerable array of armament and featured an internal bomb bay that reduced drag when carrying heavy ordinance. But, in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, 45 Helldivers were lost because they ran out of fuel on the return to their carriers.
On the whole, American servicemen enjoyed an overwhelming superiority in the quality, as well as the quantity of weaponry during World War II. The legendary reputations of the jeep, Douglas X-47, the p-51 Mustang, for example, were all well-deserved. Some American weapons fell short of expectations, however. One notable example was a dive bomber developed by Curtiss for the U.S. Navy, the SB2C Helldiver.
Despite its shortcomings, it still draws a big crowd when it shows up at air shows and fly-ins around the country. This might be your only opportunity to ever see a Helldiver in action. Make plans today, bring the whole family, and come out to the Crossville Memorial Airport, Whitson Field, and see the Helldiver, P-51 Mustangs, Steermans, helicopters and many other planes and jets, some in the air and others static on the runway.
There is no admission and you are guaranteed to have a great time. The gates open at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29.