Diving Maui's Historic Helldiver

FEB 1, 2024

Plunge into the depths off Maui's shores and uncover the silent story of a WWII-era Curtiss SB2C-1 Helldiver, its largely intact wreckage revealing both history and marine life, though not without the somber tale of disappearing artifacts— an untouched mystery no more!

Dive into the depths with the Maui Diamond and uncover a piece of history resting on the ocean floor – the wreckage of a Curtiss SB2C-1 Helldiver, an aircraft that met its fate during a training mission on August 31, 1944.

Piloted by William E. Dill and radioman Kenneth W. Jobe for a practice mission from Pu’unene Airport, the Helldiver now sits in 50 feet of water, missing only its tail fin.  Pilot and radioman both successfully ditched the plane and were rescued immediately.  As an interesting side note, it is known that Lt. Dill had to ditch another Helldiver in the Gulf of Leyte in the Philippines just months after the one he ditched in Maui; that plane has not yet been rediscovered, but once again, both occupants survived.

Referred to as "the beast" or "Son-of-a-Bitch 2nd Class," this largely intact relic became the focus of attention on Maui in January 2010 when local fishermen noticed their prey disappearing "beneath the wings." Rediscovered by a previous dive shop owner Brad Varney and later confirmed as a Helldiver, the site became a regular destination for divers seeking a glimpse into the past.

The underwater scene surrounding the Helldiver is a spectacle, with game fish finding shelter and schools of goatfish, nudibranches, eels, and leaf scorpions calling it home. However, this underwater museum requires careful exploration, and divers are urged to maintain buoyancy control to preserve its fragile structure.

A note of caution resonates from the past – in 2011, some parts of the aircraft vanished, leaving a somber reminder of the importance of responsible diving. The 2004 Sunken Military Craft Act protects such historical wrecks from disturbance, emphasizing the need to appreciate without impacting.

As you plan your next dive trip, check the Diamond’s Bookings Calendar page or give us a call to experience and respect this fascinating piece of Maui's underwater history. Explore, appreciate, and leave the past undisturbed for future generations.