Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Helldiver Oops

Occasionally, the Archive has the opportunity to acquire not just images, but materials that help tell the stories of the photographs they accompany. Such is the case with this week's offering of Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver photos, three of which show the result of a mechanical failure in the landing gear system. They come from the estate of Navy pilot Lt. (jg) Herman E. Olds

The SB2C Helldiver, which replaced the legendary Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber, failed in many ways, and was generally unpopular with pilots. When it was produced, it was plagued with problems which led to a scathing by the Truman Committee, and ultimately the problems started the slide into oblivion for Curtiss. These included handling qualities issues, electrical problems, a terribly complicated and hard-to-maintain hydraulic system (which could very well have led to this gear-up incident), and problems with the aircraft's weight and range (more specifically, lack thereof). Some of these problems were solved in later models of the Helldiver; the one pictured here was the more mature -5 version.

One of the unique things about this set of photos is that we also have the pilot's logbooks, which include the entry for the incident, which occurred on July 1, 1946 at NAS Cecil Field, Jacksonville, Florida. (The back of the photos are dated July 2, so either they were taken the day following the incident, or printed the following day, or the lab simply got the date wrong.) NAS Cecil Field was a principle dive bombing training base during and immediately after WWII.

Starting in March, 1947, Lt. Olds flew with attack squadron VA-1A

Not sure the point of this particular formation...please comment if you know.

This 8x10 is presumably a training photo. Though stamped on the back, there is
no explanatory text.

1 comment:

  1. Cool pictures. Thank you for them as always.