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Thread started 30 Jan 2014 (Thursday) 00:07
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SB2C-4 Helldiver (the only one)

 
fish ­ dog
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Jan 30, 2014 00:07 |  #1

Thought ya'all might be interested in this, and the story behind it...

May 28, 1945 my Uncle (Dad's older brother) was gunner on a SB2C-4 Helldiver dive bomber on a practice bombing mission. The engine cut out and they ended up doing a water landing in Lower Otay lake, near San Diego. Both he and the pilot got out okay, and they actually hitch hiked back to the base. 64 years later a fisherman found the plane in 85 feet of water on his Hummingbird sonar. August 20, 2010 they recovered the plane and it was sent to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL for restoration. My dad and I were invited down for the recovery (my uncle had passed away in 2004) and were given "press pass" access. Also on hand was the pilot's son (he had also passed away earlier). Funny thing is I never had heard this story before, or, if I did, it was so long ago I didn't remember it. I've even duck hunted on Lower Otay many years ago, I may have even passed over the plane in the boat and never knew it. Kind of a neat bit of family history.

As far as I know this is the only SB2C-4 in existence (which is why they went to the trouble of recovering it). I've tried to follow up on this and see if there has been any progress on the restoration but I haven't been able to find anything. (If anyone happens to be going to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL maybe you could check for me?)

Anyway, though ya'all might be interested in some of the recovery pictures.

Seeing sunlight for the first time in 65 years.

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The engine (almost ripped off in the ditching).
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Almost feet dry!
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Looking down the starboard wing.
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Setting her down safely.
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What's left of the tail. The control surfaces were fabric and pretty much rotted away.
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joeseph
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Jan 30, 2014 04:11 |  #2

awesome bit of history!


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winehead
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Jan 30, 2014 06:31 as a reply to  @ joeseph's post |  #3

awesome story, I think it looks great considering all that time under water


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Jan 30, 2014 08:39 |  #4

It's great that you were able to be there at the start. Keep us updated, and...


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Jan 30, 2014 21:25 |  #5

A very nice story with photos. I hope they can find the funds to bring it back to at least static display material.


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erikfig
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Feb 01, 2014 15:45 |  #6

This is Great! :D


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Desertraptor
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Feb 02, 2014 01:05 |  #7

Great to have some history like this in the family.
There looks to be little damage. The engine mounts may have just rusted and broke. There seems to be no real damage other than that? Should be a relatively easy restoration


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Perfectly ­ Frank
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Feb 03, 2014 19:28 |  #8

Desertraptor wrote in post #16657031 (external link)
There looks to be little damage. The engine mounts may have just rusted and broke. There seems to be no real damage other than that? Should be a relatively easy restoration

Yeah, just hose off the mud and buff it out. :)


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fish ­ dog
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Feb 03, 2014 21:12 |  #9

Just found out that it's in storage at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL. They're waiting for "funds" to become available (AKA- donations).




  
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LA ­ Smith
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Feb 04, 2014 07:49 |  #10

fish dog wrote in post #16661682 (external link)
Just found out that it's in storage at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL. They're waiting for "funds" to become available (AKA- donations).

Wouldn't it be great if it was restored to flying condition again? Then there would be two flying examples (although the Commemorative Air Force Helldiver is a -5 version).


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fish ­ dog
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Feb 04, 2014 14:42 |  #11

LA Smith wrote in post #16662375 (external link)
Wouldn't it be great if it was restored to flying condition again? Then there would be two flying examples (although the Commemorative Air Force Helldiver is a -5 version).

That would be nice but they originally said it would only be restored as a static display. I don't know if that was due to its condition or what. Apparently, from what I understand, that was determined before they even brought it up. Also, it is the only -4 in existence, which was also one of the reasons cited as to why they went to the trouble of recovering it.




  
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fish ­ dog
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Feb 06, 2014 00:02 |  #12

Just got a little more info, in case anyone's curious, they're looking for $750,000 to restore it as a static display...might be a while.




  
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Feb 07, 2014 05:16 |  #13

Perfectly Frank wrote in post #16661422 (external link)
Yeah, just hose off the mud and buff it out. :)

I am an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer. I know there's a bit more to it than that. But by comparison to other wrecks I've seen this ones pretty good.


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Feb 07, 2014 14:39 |  #14

Desertraptor wrote in post #16670281 (external link)
I am an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer. I know there's a bit more to it than that. But by comparison to other wrecks I've seen this ones pretty good.

Yes you only have to look at the state of that Dornier the RAF Museum pulled out of the English Channel last year to see that that is in really good nick.

They have this Halifax in the museum at Hendon, that came out of a Norwegian lake in 1973 having been shot down on the night of 27/28 April 1942 on its first operational sortie. All of the crew survived with only one minor injury. The injured crewman was captured but the rest escpaed to nutural Sweeden. A full aircraft history is here (external link).

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I think the fact it was relatively deep, 92 feet, in cold fresh water helped with the preservation. Only the fabric covering on the control surfaces having rotted away, just as it seems is the case with the OP's aircraft.

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Feb 07, 2014 23:19 |  #15

Great shots and an even more unbelievable story.
I fished Otay Lake for years. I bet I even snagged it a few times.

This is just a great set and story for me to see and read about

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SB2C-4 Helldiver (the only one)
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