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The most numerous Allied dive-bomber of World War 2 (1939-1945), the Curtiss Helldiver endured a prolonged gestation period to mature into one of the most effective aircraft of its type to see service in the Pacific theatre of war. Some 7200 aircraft were built between 1942 and 1945, the type making its service debut over Rabaul on 11 November 1943 in the hands of VB-17, this unit flying SB2C-1Cs from the deck of USS Bunker Hill. Although hated by the myriad crews sent into combat strapped to a Helldiver, the bomber was responsible for the destruction of more Japanese targets than any other dive-bomber.
Barrett Tillman is the world’s most prolific US naval aviation author, having published over two-dozen titles on the World War 2 period alone. He has written numerous books for Osprey in recent years, and he is currently working on several future projects too.