Maui Helldiver dive bomber wreck dive SB2C-1C
DIVE SITES PHOTOS
Helldiver SB2C-1C front.
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DIVE SITE DETAILS
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GENERAL DIVE SITE INFO
Locating the Wreck
The wreck of the Curtiss Helldiver Sb2C-1C was first dove by BBscuba in Jan 2010. Brad was talking to one of his local fishermen customers about fishing and it went like this:
Brad: "How's the fishing going?"
Fisherman: "Yeah I've been trying to catch some ULUA and they keep hiding under the wing of a plane."
Brad: "Did you say 'plane?'"
Brad: "Can you give me some GPS or line-ups?"
Fisherman: "Sure thing Brad!"
The next week Brad and a small group of people dove the wreck for the first time. The location was spot on and we take no credit for finding the plane. We were the first to dive it (after the fisherman), photograph it, identify the make, and find out the story of the wreck.
The accident details:
The accident happened on August 31, 1944 during dive bombing practice. The pilot performed evasive maneuvers after his dive bombing run and his rudder control jammed up. He ditched the plane facing east and survived. It turns out the tail fell off the plane and it lies just behind the plane. In the report of the accident you can see they suspected bad bolts used to secure the tail and they changed them on all the planes after the accident. The pilot's name was Lieut. William E. Dill who was part of the US Navy Reserve. He later crashed or was shot down during the battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines but survived. Since the VB-4 squadron didn't keep detailed records we aren't sure what happened to them.
Identifying the plane model and crash details:
Without the BUNO # of the plane (like a car VIN number), it was a challenge finding out what model the wreck was and who crashed the plane. After consulting with Chuck Wahl and other members on the Warbird Information Exchange Forum and showing them my photos, they immediately identified the plane type as a Curtiss Helldiver SB2C-1C. I confirmed this by checking out the different specs of the plan by model and confirming it had 3 props and 1 cannon in each wing... So after narrowing down the search to SB2C-1C's, I was still stuck since some accident reports had not been filed.. They were listed on the Aviation Archaeological Investigation and Research Website, but they had no reports...After a lot of searching, I finally contacted George Kernahan who runs a website dedicated to the SB2C Helldiver. George seems to have access to a lot of research and he read me some passages from the Navy Report below, and I knew that was the plane! I ordered up the report and all the details lined up: The wreck location, the circumstances of the ditching and the state of the wreck (even the angle of the crash). Check out the report below and see for yourself!
Here is the WWII Helldiver Dive Bomber Crash Report from the US Navy. Another group of divers has confirmed the plane serial #'s to match our initial conclusions.Finding a new wreck in a popular location like Maui was quite an experience. I know people will love diving it and basking in its history... From my research I see there are several others out there.. I hope we can find them before they disappear!
If you want to see how a Hell Diver is restored or maybe you would like to buy one, check out Chuck Wahl's website Vultures RoW Aviation on restoring a Hell Diver found in a Washington State lake.
Please don't touch the wreck or take anything off it. The metal over the engine is very thin and easily broken and everyone deserves a chance to see the wreck as in-tact as possible.
More Hell Diver Photos can be found here:
Take Only Photos and Leave Only Bubbles!