Divers Recover A Navy Curtiss SB2C-4 Helldiver Aircraft
August 21, 2010 -
In March 2009, a fishermen, Duane Johnson while using a fish finder in
search of bass fish in the Lower Otay Reservoir, San Diego County,
California, stubble upon what appeared on his fish finder scope as an
outline of an aircraft. Johnson notified authorities which led divers to
a Curtiss SB2C-4 Helldiver aircraft which was a carrier-based dive
bomber aircraft produced for the United States Navy during World War II.
Just over a year
later on August 20, 2010, through the coordination of the City of San
Diego, Navy, and the California Office of Historic Preservation and
several attempts, the Curtiss SB2C-4 Helldiver was raised out of the
Lower Otay Reservoir and taken to the Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola,
Florida were the aircraft will be restored and exhibited at the museum.
The naval pilot,
Ensign E.D. Frazar, a Texas-born aviator, at the time was stationed at
Brown Field, a Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) in
On May 28, 1945,
Ensign Frazar and Army Technical Sergeant Joseph M. Metz went on a
training exercise onboard a navy aircraft carrier, the USS Wasp CVS-18
(ten ships of the United States Navy have borne the name USS Wasp, after
the stinging insect) which was off the cost of San Diego Bay.
Frazar tried to
restart the motor but with no success. Given the mountainous terrain,
Frazar decided to crash land the aircraft into the Lower Otay Reservoir.
Frazar called out his mayday signal and then was able to belly land the
aircraft without severely damaging the aircraft and he and
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).
|Navy pilot E. D. Frazar before boarding an SB2C-4 elldiver. Frazar was the pilot of the Helldiver that ditched into the Lower Otay Reservoir on May 28,1945.|
Neither pilots nor
aircraft carrier skippers seemed to like it. Although production
problems persisted throughout its combat service, it was reported that
some pilots soon changed their minds on the effectiveness the Helldiver.
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