SAN DIEGO - A rare World War II dive bomber was raised 27 metres from the bottom of a San Diego reservoir Friday and awaited a last lift from a crane to reach dry land for the first time in 65 years.

The SB2C Helldiver aircraft was brought to the surface after days of work to free it from mud and debris on the floor of the Lower Otay Reservoir.

Taras Lyssenko, general manager of Chicago-based A&T Recovery, put a call out to a crane operator to lift the plane to shore.

It will then be disassembled and trucked to Florida to be restored and displayed at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.

The Helldiver crashed when the engine failed during a training flight on May 28, 1945. Sgt. Joseph Metz and his pilot swam to shore and survived but have since died.

The plane was all but forgotten until Duane Johnson and a fishing buddy spotted the outline of a plane on a fish finder last year.

Only a few of the 5,100 Helldivers manufactured during World War II still exist. One of its nicknames was "The Beast" because it was so hard to handle.

"It wasn't a particularly good airplane," said Navy Capt. Ed Ellis of the Florida museum.

The aircraft had a tendency to crash. The first prototype crashed in February 1941. The second went down as it pulled out of a dive.

A former volunteer at the museum left money to cover the cost of the plane's extraction from the San Diego reservoir.