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Vought OS2U-3 Kingfisher
|Crew||2 or 3|
|Dimensions||35'11" by 33'10" by 15'2" (seaplane version)
10.95m by 10.31m by 4.62m
|Wing area||262 square feet
24.3 square meters
|Maximum speed||164 mph (264 km) at 5500 feet (1680 meters)
168 mph (270 km) at sea level
|Cruise speed||152 mph
|Landing speed||56 mph
|Climb rate||15 feet per second
4.6 meters per second
|Service ceiling||13,000 feet
|Power plant||1 450 hp (336 kW) Pratt
& Whitney Wasp Junior R-985-AN-2
9-cylinder radial engine driving a two-bladed propeller
|Armament||1 0.30 fixed
nose machine gun (500 rounds)
1 0.30 flexible rear cockpit machine gun (600 rounds)
|External stores||2 100 lb (45 lb) bombs or 2 325 lb (147 kg) depth charges
|Production|| At Vought-Sikorsky Division of United Aircraft, East
49 float and 5 wheeled OS2U-1 (1938-1940)
45 float and 113 wheeled 158 OS2U-2 (1941)
1006 OS2U-3 from 8/40 (1941-5 to 1942)
Naval Aircraft Factory:
300 OS2N-1 (from 1942-3)
All models existed as both land
planes and seaplanes, the
seaplanes having slightly poorer performance
The –1 lacked armor
and self-sealing fuel tanks. These were introduced in the -2, along with
increased fuel capacity. The -3 further increased the amount of crew
The OS2N-1 was nearly identical to the –3.
The Kingfisher was the best U.S. Navy observation plane of the war, with excellent construction and visibility. It was capable of flying for up to six hours at 70 mph using special flaps and ailerons.
The design dated to a 1937 request for bids from the U.S.
Navy for a two-seat observation aircraft that could be either land or
water based and was small enough to operate from a battleship without
requiring folding wings. Vought responded with a monoplane design, its
first, which the Navy selected over competing biplane designs from Stearman and the Naval Aircraft Factory on 19 March 1937. The Kingfisher introduced such innovations as spot
welding and an all-aluminum
monocoque fuselage (the control surfaces and trailing edges of the wings
were fabric.) The prototype first flew in the land configuration on 1
March 1938 and as a float plane on 19 May 1938. The Navy ordered
the first 54 production aircraft in August 1940.
seaplane version became
the standard search plane for American battleships,
each ship having three on hand when war broke out. Extra floats were included in the production contracts, to permit rapid
conversion of land versions to float versions if necessary. A few were
fitted as dive
bombers in the Aleutians.
About 157 were exported, including 100 to the British as the Kingfisher Mk.I
and 18 to the Australians (from
an order of 24 originally intended for the Netherlands East Indies) and the rest to Latin American countries.
Production was eventually switched to the Naval Aircraft Factory as the
OS2N-1 to free Vought's assembly lines for production of the Corsair.
A number of -2s and -3s were used by the Navy as intermediate and advanced trainers.The -3 came with a gun camera bracket on the right side of the cockpit, used only in training.
The OS2U occasionally performed air-sea rescues, of which
the most dramatic was the rescue of several downed aviators from Truk
lagoon during the HAILSTONE raid. Because of the limited passenger
capacity, a number of rescues were made by lashing survivors to the
wings and taxiing on the surface to land or a ship or submarine rendezvous.
Incredibly, an OS2U flown by Lieutenant (jg) D.W. Gandy claimed a Zero at Iwo Jima on 16 February 1945, the kill being confirmed by other observers. If
the slow, clumsy OS2U actually shot down a Zero, rather than some other
type of Japanese aircraft, then it was a poor reflection of the quality
of Japanese pilots by this point in the war.
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