The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver was a carrier-based dive bomber aircraft produced for the United States Navy during World War II. It replaced the Douglas SBD Dauntless in US Navy service. Despite its size, the SB2C was much faster than the SBD it replaced. Crew nicknames for the aircraft included the Big-Tailed Beast (or just the derogatory Beast), Two-Cee and Son-of-a-Bitch 2nd Class (after its designation and partly because of its reputation for having difficult handling characteristics). Neither pilots nor aircraft carrier skippers seemed to like it.
The U.S. Navy would not accept the SB2C until 880 modifications to the design and the changes on the production line had been made, delaying the Curtiss Helldiver's combat debut until 11 November 1943 with squadron VB-17 on the USS Bunker Hill, when they attacked the Japanese-held port of Rabaul on the island of New Britain, north of Papua New Guinea. Even though the Helldiver had entered U.S. Navy service, it still had such structural problems that the aircraft crews were forbidden to dive bomb (one of its main tasks) in clean configuration. The SB2C-1 could deploy slats mechanically linked with undercarriage actuation extended from the outer third of the wing leading edge to aid lateral control at low speeds. The early prognosis of the "Beast" was unfavourable as it was strongly disliked by aircrews because it was much bigger and heavier than the SBD it replaced.
In the first Battle of the Philippine Sea, 45 Helldivers were lost because they ran out of fuel on the return to their carriers.
The litany of faults that the Helldiver bore included the fact that it was underpowered, had a shorter range than the SBD, was equipped with an unreliable electrical system and was often poorly manufactured. The Curtis-Electric propeller and the complex hydraulic system had frequent maintenance problems