SB2C Helldiver

Rare Artifact Links St. Louis Aircraft Producers of World War II Era

The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum has acquired an artifact from the World War II era  that links several St. Louis area aircraft manufacturers.  The item is a Left Hand Gun Box No.2 .50 caliber ammunition container from a Curtiss Wright A-25A Shrike, a two-seat dive bomber ordered by the USAAC in 1940 under the U.S. Navy contract for the SB2C Helldiver.  Deliveries began in 1942.  The next year, the order for 3,100 aircraft was canceled due to its perceived vulnerability in combat after 900 had been produced.  While some of the aircraft were transferred to the USMC as sister ships to the SB2C Helldiver, many of those remaining were used for non-combat roles such as target towing.  The A-25A Shrike was produced at the Curtiss-Wright plant in St. Louis at Lambert Field, while the ammunition container recently acquired was made at the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation plant, also located at Lambert Field.  The container is in very good condition, possibly due to non-combat use during much of the life of the aircraft for which it was fitted.  The artifact is now on display at the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum’s Historic Gallery with other items representing the Curtiss-Wright St. Louis facility.

The ties between Curtiss-Wright,  McDonnell Aircraft and the museum do not end there.  The Museum is located at St. Louis Downtown Airport, formerly known as Curtiss-Steinberg Airport owing to the involvement of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation in its development.  The museum also maintains a gallery dedicated to military aircraft and spacecraft manufactured by McDonnell Aircraft, who subsequently acquired the Curtiss-Wright assembly plant at Lambert Field after World War II.