Fagen Fighters’ Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver – Restoration Update – April, 2021

Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver Bu.83393 is making marvelous progress as its restoration comes together at Fagen Fighters WWII Museum in Granite Falls, Minnesota. (image by Evan Fagen)
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With the recent arrival of their freshly restored Grumman Hellcat, which we reported on a couple of days ago, comes news from the Fagen Fighters WWII Museum about progress with their ultra-rare Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver Bu.83393.

Evan Fagen, the museum’s chief pilot, relayed the following details from their workshop manager, Brandon Duel: Since the fuselage and center section of the wings were joined back in October, the crew at Fagen Fighters Restoration has been working hard on finishing out some structural work left on the center section. While that has been going on they have also been working on the various systems for the aircraft. The control cables are installed and will be rigged and finalized within the month. The electrical is well under way. Most of the harnesses are complete and are currently being installed in the plane. A vast majority of the hydraulic lines have been installed in the fuselage, and soon they will be moving on to the wings. Most of the major components for the aircraft have been finished and are just waiting for final assembly. With a project of this magnitude, the tasks can seem never-ending, but the experienced crew is slowly checking them off the list. The next year is going to be very exciting for Fagen Fighters Restoration as the SB2C-5 Helldiver moves closer to first flight.”

As readers may remember, this Helldiver owes its survival to the determination of former naval aviator and warbird restorer, Kevin Smith, who worked out a three-party trade with the Smithsonian and Naval Aviation Museum to recover this aircraft from its WWII crash site near NAS Dahlgren, Virginia back in the early 1990s. (Until recently, Kevin Smith also once owned the Douglas Dauntless project which is now on its way to New Zealand to supplement the restoration of another example, which we reported upon HERE.)

It is wonderful to see how far this Helldiver has progressed over the past decade or so, but it has taken an enormous commitment, both financially and practically, to achieve. The aviation preservation movement owes a great debt to the Fagens for their endeavors, and we can’t wait to see this aircraft fly. We look forwards to bringing further reports on her restoration in the future.

Many thanks to Evan Fagen for the photographs and for providing Brandon Duel’s comments for the update on this project!

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