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Aeroplane Heaven Curtiss Helldiver Italian Air Force 86-42 1.0.0

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About This File

This folder contains a repaint for the Aerplane Heaven Curtiss Helldiver in the colors of S2C-5 MM4693 86-42 of the 86 Gruppo Antisom of the Italian Air Force, based in Grottaglie, 1952. Italy’s experience with the Helldiver was brief but interesting. In 1950, when the first post-WWII formal rearmament plan was put forward, the Italian navy identified as a priority obtaining a surplus American light aircraft carrier, with appropriate air wing. A team was sent to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi TX, where two pilots trained and qualified on the Helldiver, later practicing carrier operations aboard USS Midway (CV-41) where four more pilots earned US Navy carrier wings. In September 1952, two surplus Helldivers were presented to the Italian navy as a gift by the USA. The two planes were delivered to Naples, Italy.

Unfortunately for the Italian navy, there was still a Mussolini-era law on the books called Legge 1000 Kilo (law of a thousand kilograms) which mandated that only the Italian air force could fly planes over 2,200 lbs weight. As the result of a bizarre inter-services lawsuit, the navy was forced to abandon plans for both it’s aircraft carrier wish and the Helldivers.

A total of forty-six Helldivers were eventually transferred to the Italian air force (the two former navy planes plus a further forty-four). The Italian air force assigned them to the 86th Autonomous Antisubmarine Group at Grottaglie air base, where they flew ASW missions with depth charges. The Helldiver was not popular with the Italians…as an anecdotal example, they were housed in a disused WWII-era blimp hangar. They were viewed as obsolete and too difficult to master pilots on. The crews were also not keen on flying a single-engine type on long overwater patrols.

The Italian planes were only in frontline service for about one year. In 1953, they were replaced by PV-2 Harpoons and (later) S-2 Trackers, which were much more suitable to long-range ASW missions. Repaint by Jan Kees Blom, based on the paintkit by Aeroplane Heaven.

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