Local fishermen in search of some record large-mouth bass in a San Diego-area lake last winter found something else on their electronic fish finder: A World War II carrier bomber.
A cursory look determined the airplane is a Curtiss SBC2 Helldiver, a daring dive-bomber that apparently had made an emergency landing into Lower Otay Reservoir, southeast of San Diego, during a bombing test run on May 28, 1945, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
The Navy had bought more than 7,000 of the Helldiver, which joined with the better-known Douglas SBD Dauntless on bombing runs during the Pacific theater campaigns in the latter half of World War II. The Helldiver found in the lake’s depths has been identified as a Variant 4 model.
The Texas-based Commemorative Air Force maintains a restored SB2C, often flying it at air shows and demonstrations. It’s not known yet if the airplane can be safely recovered and salvaged, perhaps as a vintage museum display. A dozen Navy divers in San Diego on July 23 will take to the lake for a site survey and a closer look at the airplane, said Lt. Katherine Raia, a spokeswoman with Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 1 in San Diego.