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The Vought OS2U Kingfisher is an American catapult-launched observation floatplane. It was a compact mid-wing monoplane, with a large central float and small stabilizing floats. Performance was modest because of its low-powered engine. The OS2U could also operate on fixed, wheeled, taildragger landing gear.

The OS2U was the main shipboard observation seaplane used by the United States Navy during World War II, and 1,519 of the aircraft were built. It served on battleships and cruisers of the US Navy, with the United States Marine Corps in Marine Scouting Squadron Three (VMS-3), with the United States Coast Guard at coastal air stations, at sea with the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy, and with the Soviet Navy. The Royal Australian Air Force also operated a few Kingfishers from shore bases.

The Naval Aircraft Factory OS2N was the designation of the OS2U-3 aircraft built by the Naval Aircraft Factory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The OS2U first flew on 1 March 1938.

Design and development

In the late 1930s, Vought engineer Rex B. Beisel was tasked with designing an observation monoplane aircraft for the U.S. Navy suitable for a multitude of tasks including directing battleship fire. In replacing the standard biplane observation aircraft with a more modern monoplane design, Beisel incorporated innovations making it the first production type to be assembled with spot welding, a process Vought and the Naval Aircraft Factory jointly developed to create a smooth fuselage that resisted buckling and generated less drag. Beisel also introduced high-lift devices, spoilers and in a unique arrangement, deflector plate flaps and drooping ailerons located on the trailing edge of the wing were deployed to increase the camber of the wing and thus create additional lift.[1]

For combat missions, the pilot had a .30-caliber Browning M1919 machine gun, the receiver mounted low in the right front cockpit, firing between the engine cylinder heads, while the radio operator/gunner manned another .30-caliber machine gun (or a pair) on a flexible Scarff ring mount. The aircraft could also carry two 100 lb bombs or two 325 lb depth charges.[1] Additionally, the "Kingfisher", as it was designated, served as a trainer in both its seaplane and landplane configurations.[2]

Aviation cadet in OS2U Kingfisher
Aviation cadet in OS2U Kingfisher at the Naval Air Base, Corpus Christi, Texas

Beisel's first prototype flew in 1938, powered by an air-cooled, 450 hp Pratt & Whitney R-985-4 Wasp Junior radial engine.[1]

Operational history

Browning M1919 machine gun, the receiver mounted low in the right front cockpit, firing between the engine cylinder heads, while the radio operator/gunner manned another .30-caliber machine gun (or a pair) on a flexible Scarff ring mount. The aircraft could also carry two 100 lb bombs or two 325 lb depth charges.[1] Additionally, the "Kingfisher", as it was designated, served as a trainer in both its seaplane and landplane configurations.[2]

Beisel's first prototype flew in 1938, powered by an air-cooled, 450 hp Pratt & Whitney R-985-4 Wasp Junior radial engine.[1]

Operational history

The first 54 Kingfishers were delivered to the U.S. Navy beginning in August 1940 and six had been assigned to the Pearl Harbor-based Battle Force before the end of the same year. Many of the following 158 OS2U-2s were attached to flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, but 53 were assigned to equip the newly established Inshore Patrol Squadrons, based at NAS Jacksonville, Florida. In 1942, nine more Inshore Patrol Squadrons were established, all exclusively equipped with OS2N-1s built by the Naval Aircraft Factory.[3]

The Kingfisher was widely used as a shipboard, catapult-launched scout plane on U.S. Navy battleships, heavy cruisers and light cruisers during World War II, as well as playing a major role in support of shore bombardments and air-sea rescue. Two examples showing the plane's rescue capabilities include the recovery of World War I ace Eddie Rickenbacker and his crew from the Pacific in November 1942[4] and Lieutenant John A. Burns' unique use of the aircraft on 30 April 1944 to taxi airmen rescued from Truk Lagoon to the submarine Tang, which was serving rescue duty near the atoll on that date. In all, LT Burns rescued 10 survivors on two trips[5] and was awarded the Navy Cross for his efforts.

Australia received 18 Kingfishers from a batch of aircraft ordered by the Dutch East Indies that was diverted to Australia in 1942. They were initially used as training aircraft for pilots destined for flying boats

The Kingfisher was widely used as a shipboard, catapult-launched scout plane on U.S. Navy battleships, heavy cruisers and light cruisers during World War II, as well as playing a major role in support of shore bombardments and air-sea rescue. Two examples showing the plane's rescue capabilities include the recovery of World War I ace Eddie Rickenbacker and his crew from the Pacific in November 1942[4] and Lieutenant John A. Burns' unique use of the aircraft on 30 April 1944 to taxi airmen rescued from Truk Lagoon to the submarine Tang, which was serving rescue duty near the atoll on that date. In all, LT Burns rescued 10 survivors on two trips[5] and was awarded the Navy Cross for his efforts.

Australia received 18 Kingfishers from a batch of aircraft ordered by the Dutch East Indies that was diverted to Australia in 1942. They were initially used as training aircraft for pilots destined for flying boats, but in 1943, they were used to equip No. 107 Squadron RAAF, which carried out convoy escort duties until disbanded in October 1945.[6] One Kingfisher was used in support of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition in 1947–48.[7]

Throughout its U.S. Navy service, the OS2U and even its predecessor, the Curtiss SOC Seagull served much longer than planned, as the planned successor, the Curtiss SO3C Seamew, suffered from an insufficiently powerful engine which was a complete failure.[8] The OS2U was only slowly replaced in the latter stages of World War II with the introduction of the Curtiss SC Seahawk, the first examples reaching the U.S. Navy in October 1944.[9]

At least eight Kingfishers survive in collections of historic aircraft around the world:[11]

Australia

OS2U-3
  • 5985 – Whale World, Albany, Western Australia. It is also waiting "to be restored." Originally built for Netherlands Navy in Dutch East Indies, it was transferred to the RAAF in 1942, serving with Seaplane Training Flight (later 3 OTU) and 107 Sqn before being sold as war surplus in 1945.[12] Now with Pioneer Aero Ardmore New Zealand for restoration, see below.

Chile

OS2U-3
  • 5925 – Museo Nacional Aeronáutico y del Espacio de Chile, Santiago.[13]

Cuba

OS2U-3

New Zealand

OS2U-3
  • 5985 – Pioneer Aero, Auckland, New Zealand. Currently undergoing restoration. Originally built for Netherlands Navy in Dutch East Indies, it was transferred to the RAAF in 1942, serving with Seaplane Training Flight (later 3 OTU) and 107 Sqn before being sold as war surplus in 1945.[15]
  • 5982- Pioneer Aero, Auckland, New Zealand. Currently in Storage for future restoration.

United States

On display
OS2U-3
In storage
OS2U-3

Specifications (OS2U-3)

OS2U Kingfisher at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

Data from Jane's Fighting aircraft of World War II[22]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 33 ft 7.2 in (10.241 m)
  • Wingspan: 35 ft 10.7 in (10.940 m)
  • Height: 14 ft 8 in (4.47 m)
  • Wing area: 261.9 sq ft (24.33 m2)
  • Airfoil: root: NACA 23015; tip: NACA 23009[23]
  • Empty weight: 3,335 lb (1,513 kg)
  • Gross weight: 4,980 lb (2,259 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 6,000 lb (2,722 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 144 US gal (120 imp gal; 545 l) in an integral wing tank
  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN2 Wasp Junior 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, 450 hp (340 kW) for take-off
400 hp (298 kW) at 5,000 ft (1,524 m)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 171 mph (275 km/h, 149 kn) at 5,000 ft (1,524 m)
  • Cruise speed: 152 mph (245 km/h, 132 kn) with 75% power at 6,000 ft (1,829 m)
  • Landing speed: 55 mph (48 kn; 89 km/h)
  • Range: 908 mi (1,461 km, 789 nmi) with 75% power at 6,000 ft (1,829 m)
  • Service ceiling: 18,200 ft (5,500 m)
  • Rate of climb: 960 ft/min (4.9 m/s) at 4,000 ft (1,219 m)
  • Wing loading: 19 lb/sq ft (93 kg/m2)
  • Power/mass: 0.08 hp/lb (0.13 kW/kg)

Armament

See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists

References

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Noles, James Jr "Old, slow and ugly." Archived 2008-09-07 at the Wayback Machine Air and Space, February/March 2005, p. 66.
  2. ^ Hickman 2010, p. 59.
  3. ^ Bowers 1990, p. 447.
  4. ^ Doll and Jackson 1975, pp. 122–123
  5. ^ Doll and Jackson 1975, pp.123, 127.
  6. ^ Vincent 1998, pp. 54–59.
  7. ^ Vincent 1998, pp. 61–62.
  8. ^ Bowers 1990, p. 164.
  9. ^ Bowers 1990, p. 169.
  10. Data from Jane's Fighting aircraft of World War II[22]

    General characteristics

    • Crew: 2
    • Length: 33 ft 7.2 in (10.241 m)
    • Wingspan: 35 ft 10.7 in (10.940 m)
    • Height: 14 ft 8 in (4.47 m)
    • Wing area: 261.9 sq ft (24.33 m2)
    • Airfoil: root: NACA 23015; tip: NACA 23009[23]
    • Empty weight: 3,335 lb (1,513 kg)
    • Gross weight: 4,980 lb (2,259 kg)
    • Max takeoff weight: 6,000 lb (2,722 kg)
    • Fuel capacity: 144 US gal (120 imp gal; 545 l) in an integral wing tank
    • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN2 Wasp Junior 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, 450 hp (340 kW) for take-off
    400 hp (298 kW) at 5,000 ft (1,524 m)

    Performance

    • Maximum speed: 171 mph (275 km/h, 149 kn) at 5,000 ft (1,524 m)
    • Cruise speed: 152 mph (245 km/h, 132 kn) with 75% power at 6,000 ft (1,829 m)
    • Landing speed: 55 mph (48 kn; 89 km/h)
    • Range: 908 mi (1,461 km, 789 nmi) with 75% power at 6,000 ft (1,829 m)
    • Service ceiling: 18,200 ft (5,500 m)
    • Rate of climb: 960 ft/min (4.9 m/s) at 4,000 ft (1,219 m)
    • Wing loading: 19 lb/sq ft (93 kg/m2)
    • Power/mass: 0.08 hp/lb (0.13 kW/kg)

    Armament

    See also

    Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

    Related lists

    References

    Notes

    1. ^ a b c Noles, James Jr "Old, slow and ugly." Archived 2008-09-07 at the Wayback Machine Air and Space, February/March 2005, p. 66.
    2. ^ Hickman 2010, p. 59.
    3. ^ Bowers 1990, p. 447.
    4. ^ Doll and Jackson 1975, pp. 122–123
    5. ^ Doll and Jackson 1975, pp.123, 127.
    6. ^ Vincent 1998, pp. 54–59.
    7. ^ Vincent 1998, pp. 61–62.
    8. ^ Bowers 1990, p. 164.
    9. ^ Bowers 1990, p. 169.
    10. ^ Steinemann Air International February 1992, p. 73.
    11. ^ General characteristics

      Performance

      Armament

      See also