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Rare Warbird Emerges From 65-Year Dive

Helldiver
SB2C Helldiver was lifted from the deep on August 19.

August 24, 2010 —A Curtiss-Wright SB2C-4 Helldiver, submerged under 90 feet of water for that past 65 years and raised to the surface last week, is headed to Florida where plans are to restore and put it on display at Pensacola’s National Naval Aviation Museum.

The rare World War II-era airplane emerged Thursday, August 19, from the Lower Otay Reservoir near San Diego, California. The salvage firm A&T Recovery of Chicago, which specializes in underwater recoveries, worked for several days to free the airframe from mud and debris before a crane lifted the mud-covered but remarkably intact relic to the shore.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Helldiver crashed on May 28, 1945, during a training run. Sgt. Joseph Metz and his pilot, Richard Frazar, swam to shore and survived the incident. Both have since passed away, but Frazar’s son, E.D. Frazar, was on hand at the raising.

“I just wish my dad was here to see this,” he told the Union-Tribune.

Two fishermen spotted the wreck last year on their fish finder.The airplane is headed to Florida where plans are to restore and put it on display at Pensacola’s National Naval Aviation Museum.

Some 7,200 Helldivers were produced overall and only a relative few display examples of the aircraft remain. The world's only flying example - an SB2C-5 - is owned and operated by the West Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force.

 
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