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In Search of SB2C-4 Helldiver - Buno. 82858
Story and photography by Timothy Cox

    Next was the engine. This is the first time I've had the chance to be really up close and personal with an R-2600 engine. I was amazed at the condition of it. Having seen the destruction of the aircraft up to this point I was amazed it looked as good as it did. I was also very glad to see that hikers who have stumbled on the site had not stripped it of everything they could. They may have felt the need to scratch their names in
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parts but it looked like most had not tried to carry all they could out. The final large sections of the aircraft was the area where the wings and fuselage came together. Someone had taken the left wing and propped it up against a tree. It was clear that there was more fire damage to the wing. Examining the left wing closer it was clear the 20mm canon was removed and some of the access panels to the wing opened up. Wiring, canon mounts and the shoot for spent shell casings were still visible in the wing. It appeared the fuselage around the cockpit area had burnt, I could not find anything that appeared to be related to the center section of the aircraft around the weapon bay. The right wing was still lying on ground. That showed considerable fire damage and was not in as good of condition as the left wing section was. I found the area that the canon had been and it was also removed. There was little else besides the dive brakes that could be recognized. The last piece we found was the Prop hub with 2 blades still attached to it. It appeared to have a section of the spinner that covered the hub still attached to the hub. The dome appeared to be missing from the hub and was not evident in the immediate area.

    The clock was ticking and time was running out for us on the site. I did a quick search around the area for the rear gunner's turret and other parts that I had heard were tossed into the swamp but did not find anything. We packed up our gear and headed back to my car.

    Finding the pond was not a problem and decided head straight toward the road and parking area. We could follow the road to the car if need be. Finally after just over an hour after leaving the pond we reached the stream at the bottom of the hill that paralleled the road where we were parked. Just a 50-yard jog around some private property and we'd be back at the car. It was a great feeling not only to have found the aircraft but also to be out of the woods. I had taken a bit over 100 pictures at the site and look forward to trying to ID some of the parts. But first there was a 3-hour drive home so I could kick back on the couch, crack open a Tailhook ale and tell my story to my wife.

    I have found out since the hike that the aircraft that crashed was at an airshow when one of the pilots came down with appendicitis and was being flown to a Military Base in Massachusetts when it crashed. As of yet I do not know the names of the two pilots that were killed but I hope to try and get the crash report in the near future to fill in all the details I can. I'll file an update when I get more information.

Click here for additional photos of the hike.

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