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The A-25 Shrike was a USAAF diver bomber based on the Navy’s SB2C Helldiver. It was ordered late in 1940, after the Stuka had played such a prominent role in the German blitzkrieg in Poland and France. The Army Air Corps had not been interested in the dive bomber before this, and so no development programs were in place. Their response was to adopt existing aircraft designs to the apparently newly important role. Amongst them were the A-24, based on the Douglas Dauntless and the A-36, based on the P-51 Mustang.
The A-25 was ordered in larger numbers than either of these aircraft. An initial order for 100 aircraft was followed by a massive order for 3000 A-25As, placed in early 1942. In response the Curtiss-Wright factory at St. Louis was converted to the production of the A-25.
Early A-25s were identical to the SB2C-1, but during the production run a number of changes were made, amongst them the removal of the folding wings and the tailhook, not needed for land based operations.
The first production A-25 flew in September 1942. Nine hundred more aircraft followed, before production ended late in 1943. By 1943 it had become obvious that the dedicated heavy dive bomber was no longer needed. The Stukas suffered heavy losses whenever they met modern fighter aircraft. The more versatile fighter bomber had replaced the dive bomber as a close support weapons, and the USAAF no longer wanted its A-25s.
There was now a surplus of unwanted aircraft. An attempt to pass them to the RAAF failed after the Australians rejected all but ten of the aircraft. Eventually 410 of the aircraft were returned to the Marines, as the SB2C-1A, where they were used as training aircraft. The remaining A-25As remained with the army and were used for non-combat duties.
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