Weight & dimensions
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The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, also known as the A-25 Shrike, is a dive bomber developed by Curtiss-Wright during World War II. As a carrier-based bomber with the United States Navy (USN), in Pacific theaters, it supplemented and replaced the Douglas SBD Dauntless. A few survivors are extant.
Initially poor handling characteristics and late modifications caused lengthy delays to production and deployment, to the extent that it was investigated by the Truman Committee, which turned in a scathing report. This contributed to the decline of Curtiss as a company. Neither pilots nor aircraft carrier skippers seemed to like it. Nevertheless, the type was faster than the Dauntless, and by the end of the Pacific War, the Helldiver had become the main dive bomber and attack aircraft on USN carriers.
By the time a land-based variant, known as the A-25 Shrike became available, in late 1943, the Western Allied air forces had abandoned dedicated dive-bombers. A majority of A-25s delivered to the US Army Air Forces were transferred to the US Marine Corps, which used the type only in one side campaign and non-combat roles. The British Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force also cancelled substantial orders, retaining only a few aircraft for research purposes.
Nicknames for the aircraft included “Big-Tailed Beast” or just “Beast”, “Two-Cee”, and “Son-of-a-Bitch 2nd Class”; the latter nickname was derived from the name SB2C and the Shrike’s reputation for having difficult handling characteristics.