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BU Aero US Navy 88-1-12650 Weston Electric, Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, Cylinder Head Temperature Gauge

For much of the War in the Pacific, the USN had relied upon the ageing Douglas SBD Dauntless for its extended patrols and torpedo attacks on enemy shipping.

As both sides became more desperate and the outcome usually decided in whoever located the enemy first, carrier-launched bombers and fighters were rapidly replacing the destructive power of the big gunned battleships and destroyers.

Despite its early successes, the Dauntless simply did not have the range, speed or payload carrying capacity required to surprise the Japanese task forces. 

Patrol range often became one of the key factors in determining the outcome of an enemy engagement and the USN had been waiting anxiously for the new Curtis SB2C Helldivers to not only give them that patrol edge but also to be able to target the enemy’s flag ships with pinpoint accuracy.

Curtiss had developed the Helldiver in late 1942 in response to the US government’s request to try and emulate the early European land-based successes of the Luftwaffe’s Ju87 Stuka dive bomber and introduce them into a maritime setting.

The Luftwaffe had long realised that the most accurate way to ensure pin point accuracy was to drop the ordinance in the direct line of flight of the aircraft rather than lob a series of bombs in a line hoping that one would find its target. 

Basically it called for an almost vertical dive on the enemy target and releasing the ordinance, slung beneath the fuselage on a hinged arm, at the bottom of the dive as the pilot pulled back on the control column.

Unfortunately, Curtiss had become bogged down in conflicting requirements from various arms of the US military and when the SB2C Helldiver was first introduced in late 1942, it was an unmitigating disaster.

Considerably larger than the aircraft it was replacing due to the incorporation of an internal bomb bay to reduce drag, the Helldiver was seriously underpowered, had poor handling and bad stall characteristics and concerns were raise about its structural weakness.

Pilots hated its instability due to its small rudder and tail plane surfaces and carrier commanders found it too bulky for ease of use and storage on their often crowded flight decks.

The US Government immediately called a halt to production and sent Curtiss back to the drawing board.

It was to take almost another two years before Curtiss had resolved all the problems but by that time, the concept of a dedicated vertical dive bomber had been overtaken by significantly improved carrier fighter bombers such as the Grumman Hellcat and Vought F4U Corsair.

The new Helldiver however, whilst having nowhere near the speed or defensive armament as the fighter/bombers, did have the range and more importantly the better accuracy which was soon put to use with devastating effect.

The Helldivers would participate in battles over the Marianas, Philippines (playing a part in the sinking of the battleship Musashi), Taiwan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, where they were responsible for the sinking of the battleship Yamato. They were also used in the 1945 attacks on the Ryukyu Islands and the Japanese home island of Honshū in tactical attacks on airfields, communications and shipping.

The Weston Electric Corp BU Aero US Navy 88-1-12650 Weston Electric Cylinder Head Temperature Gauge was installed at the bottom far left of F4F Wildcat’s instrument panel, tucked under the canopy sill.

This WWII instrument is in remarkable condition for a 77 year of veteran of the war in the Pacific and still bears its USN stamp on the rear of its casing.

With a highly detailed 1/72 or larger super detailed1/48 scale model of the F6F Hellcat perched atop its hand-crafted, mango wood stand, this would make a fantastic gift for any aviation enthusiast.

This Curtiss SB2C Helldiver Instrument comes complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.

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Your Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, Cylinder Head Temperature Gauge, Original Recovery Curios Warbird Collectable includes:

  • Original Warbird Collectable
  • Highly detailed, hand-built and airbrushed 1/72 plastic scale model of the aircraft.*
  • Hand-crafted and beautifully finished 100yr, Far North Queensland Mango Wood display stand
  • Detailed, 2-sided, printed and laminated Instrument Fact Sheet detailing aircraft and instrument
  • Removable Magnetic Display Arm

*An upgrade to the larger and more detailed 1/48 scale model is also available for an additional $35 (Click on the 1/48 scale option)

Both the 1/72 & 1/48 scale models are available with wheels & flaps ‘up or down’, cockpit 'open or closed' and wings ‘folded or open'

Your complete Recovery Curios Original Instrument Collectable is securely packed and delivery normally takes between 4 - 6 weeks approx.

Did you fly, crew or maintain a, Curtiss SB2C Helldiver or have a friend, colleague or family member who did? Check out our PERSONALISED ORIGINAL INSTRUMENT COLLECTABLE OPTION here.