INDEX OF NAVAL AIRCRAFT
||Vought-Sikorsky OS2U-3 Kingfisher
The Vought-Sikorsky OS2U Kingfisher was the US Navy's first catapult-launched
monoplane observation floatplane aircraft, with a big central float and
small stabilising floats. It came in both float and land-based configurations,
and served as observer aircraft, anti-submarine aircraft, and rescue aircraft.
The first XOS2U-1 prototype flew on 20 July, 1938. The aircraft entered
production in April 1940. The USS Colorado was the first ship to be equipped
with OS2Us. The OS2U was a neat, compact mid-wing monoplane, with a big
central float and small stabilising floats. Performance was modest, because
of its light engine. The OS2U could also operate on fixed, wheeled landing
The most famous incident involving a Kingfisher was the rescue of Captain
Eddie Rickenbacker, who ditched in the Pacific in a B-17 during 1942. A
Kingfisher picked up Rickenbacker and two other crew members (who still
remained following a rescue the previous day) but the Kingfisher could
not take off because the load was too great. The OS2U pilot taxied on the
surface over 40 miles to make the nearest landfall with everyone aboard.
A total of 1519 Kingfisher were built. The OS2U not only served on
the battleships and cruisers of the USN, but also with the Royal Navy and
the USCG. The Kingfisher saw service with USN, FAA, armed forces of Chile,
Argentina, the Netherlands, Uruguay.
OS2U-1 : the first production
OS2U-3 : armored seats and
Kingfisher OS2U by CWWright
The Fleet Air Arm ordered a total of 100 Vought-Sikorsky OS2U-3 Kingfisher
under Lend-Lease Contract No LL76493. Requisition No 7951, with serial
numbers ranging from FN650-FN749. The first batch of aircraft started
to arrive not long after they were accepted into the US Navy in March 1942
and just 2 months later 21 were delivered to the UK at Lockheed Speke in
May 1942, thence forwarded to 778 squadron at Arbroath the same month.
The Kingfisher was also delivered to the RAE A Flight and 787 squadron
at Duxford in June 1942, and 789 squadron at Wingfield in November 1943.
13 Kingfisher were also delivered to Scottish Aviation Limited, Prestwick/Largs
and Greenock in May 1942, thence including to 765 squadron based at Sandbanks.
Another 33 wrere delivered to RNARY Wingfeld in November 1942, to 703
Flights (Cilicia and Corfu Flts) , 726 squadron Durban, and 777 squadron
Hastings. The final 21 aircraft were delivered to Jamaica in October 1942,
but retuirned to the US Navy by October 1943.
Kingfisher OS2U in wartime colour
Fleet Air Arm history
delivered to RN:
squadron 1939 -1945: 778 squadron
served with RN
Vought OS2U-3 Kingfisher
reconnaissance monoplane/Maritime patrol aircraft
Date operating with
|One 450 hp
Pratt&Whitney Wasp Junior R-985-SB-3 engine
Wing Span: Length: Height: Wing
10.69m Length: 10.08m Height: 4.6m Wing Area: 24.3m2
Empty Weight: Max.Weight:
1870kg Max.Weight: 2721kg
264km/h Ceiling: 3960m Max. Range: 1860km
|One fixed forward
firing 0.3in browning and one flexibel rear cockpit 0.3in with 650lb bombload
|None with FAA
Additional references and notes:
Battle Honours and Operational History
The Kingfisher won no Battle Honours with the Fleet Air Arm,
howver it was to become the Florence Nightingale of the Pacific in its
air-sea rescue role during World War II . In a carrier raid on Truk in
1944, an OS2U flying from a battleship landed in choppy seas to pickup
ten pilots over a period of six hours taxiing as far as 20 miles to deliver
them to an allied submarine. A US Kingfisher rescued famous World War I
ace Captain Eddie Rickenbacker after the plane in which he was riding as
a passenger ditched in the Pacific during the war.
Surviving aircraft and relics
Only four OS2Us survive today, and all in USA. Two of which
are on the Gulf Coast - one in the National Museum of Naval Aviation (BuNo
5926 obtained in 1971 from the Uruguayan Navy) and the other on the USS
Alabama in Mobile, Alabama. Number three is on board the USS North Carolina
and the fourth is at the National Air and Space Museum (USA).
National Air and Space Museum preserved Kingfisher OS2U
Kingfisher OS2U-3 BuNo 5926 preserved at the NNAM (USA)
Kingfisher OS2U-3 preserved.jpg
Associations and reunions
Created 3-4-1999, Modified 3-4-2000
Return to Home Page
This page is published by Fleet Air Arm Archive and
is updated regularly.
© 2000-2001 All rights reserved for all information
created for or on behalf of the Fleet Air Arm Archive
Contact email: email@example.com