Fagen Fighters: SB2C Helldiver Rollout & P-47 Arrival

The Helldiver following its rollout. (photo via Fagen Fighters WWII Museum)
Aircorps Art Dec 2019

May 4th, 2023: Fagen Fighters WWII Museum announced a major milestone in the restoration of their Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver on social media yesterday, formally rolling out the nearly-completed aircraft from their workshop at Granite Falls Municipal Airport in Granite Falls, Minnesota. Fagen Fighters acquired badly battered hulk of SB2C-5 BuNo.83393 back in 2006, and has been hard at work on its restoration ever since.

The restoration team standing proudly in front of the Helldiver following its rollout. From the right: Brandon Deuel, Ron Fagen, Darwin Vermaat, Tyler Farmer, Jay Bosch, Matt Luukkenon, David Barber, and Steve Lindquist. (photo via Fagen Fighters WWII Museum)

As readers may remember, this Helldiver owes its survival to the determination of former naval aviator and warbird restorer, Kevin R. 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.) Fagen Fighters hopes to have “the Beast” flying by summers end.


In related news, Fagen Fighters took delivery of P-47D Thunderbolt 44-32817 on May 4th. The aircraft had, until recently, been a part of the Lewis Air Legends collection in San Antonio, Texas. Noted warbird pilot, Bernie Vasquez performed the delivery flight on May 4th, 2023.

A smiling Bernie Vasquez sitting on the Thunderbolt’s wing following his delivery flight from San Antonio, Texas. (photo via Fagen Fighters WWII Museum)

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