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WWII SB2C Navy Plane Found
Old 03-26-2010
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Default WWII SB2C Navy Plane Found

Navy World War II plane found near Oregon coast

Oregon State Police photo of the wreckage from a WWII-era Curtis SB2C

By TERRENCE PETTY, Associated Press Writer Terrence Petty – Fri Mar 26, 2010

PORTLAND, Ore. – Loggers working near the Oregon coast discovered the wreckage of a World War II-era warplane in woods not far from a naval air station decommissioned in 1948, military and police officials said Thursday. Investigators said human remains may be in the aircraft. The origins of the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, a U.S. Navy dive bomber, are a mystery. The crash site is not far from two naval air stations that were active during World War II.

"There are so many different air stations they could have been flying from," said Christian Gurling, curator at the Tillamook Air Museum, site of the now-defunct Naval Air Station Tillamook. A U.S. Navy team worked at the scene along with the Oregon State Police and the Tillamook County Sheriff's Office. Also involved in the investigation is the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing In Action Accounting Command, a Hawaii-based military joint command that tries to account for Americans missing in action.

State police bomb technicians checked the site Wednesday afternoon and found no sign of unexploded ordnance. A logging company discovered the wreckage on March 18 in a heavily wooded area and notified law enforcement officials, who then notified the U.S. Navy. Officials have found a wing, a tail section, landing gear and other debris spread out over about 200 yards, state police said. Gurling said the Tillamook station was originally an airfield for blimps guarding the Pacific Coast, but airplanes were also there in later years. The SB2C Helldiver, which operated off aircraft carriers, replaced the Douglas SPD Dauntless. Gurling said it carried two crew members — the pilot and a radio operator, who was also the gunner. A sheriff involved in investigating the wreckage of a World War II dive bomber found in the Oregon woods said Friday at least three U.S. Navy planes of that type apparently went down in the area from 1945 to 1948.
No human remains have yet been found by a U.S. Navy team and law enforcement officers at the crash site near the Oregon coast, not far from a Navy air station in operation during the war.
Tillamook County Sheriff Todd Anderson said he knows of reports of two Curtiss SB2C Helldivers going down in the Tillamook-Astoria area in 1945, and a third in 1948.
"We've got all kinds of clues and bits and pieces," Anderson said. Investigators are especially interested in the reported 1948 crash. "That's the one we're looking at now, but we're not eliminating others," Anderson said. Helldivers — a formidable aircraft that saw action in the Pacific — were among warplanes stored in hangars at Tillamook after the war.

Helldivers on the USS Yourktown

Anderson said he has been informed by the U.S. Navy that investigators were close to identifying the airplane. The investigative work includes going over old Navy records that document plane crashes and missing crew members. Anderson said among the wreckage, spread out over an area of about 200 yards, are a large section of the plane's tail, sections of a wing and the remains of an engine. Some of the debris melted from the heat of the crash.
He said the plane apparently made a deep impact when it crashed, and some wreckage may still be buried.

A Navy team and law enforcement officials have secured the crash site as the investigation continues. "If we've got a fallen war hero in the hills up there, or more than one, we want to make sure they're treated with respect and are given back to family," Anderson said. It is possible more than one person was in the Helldiver, which carried a pilot and a radio operator-gunner. The Helldiver, also known as "the Beast," was a formidable warplane, but Gurling said it was also "plagued by problems." "In the earlier planes, the pilots were told to not dive for fear the planes would fall apart," said Gurling. "Which wasn't good for a dive bomber."

"The Beast" - SB2C Helldiver

Last edited by OneShot; 03-27-2010 at 10:01 AM..
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