Kingfisher file photo [6124]

OS2U Kingfisher

CountryUnited States
ManufacturerChance Vought Corporation
Primary RoleSeaplane
Maiden Flight1 January 1938


ww2dbaseThe Chance-Vought OS2U Kingfisher was an American catapult-launched observation floatplane. It was a compact mid-wing monoplane, with a big central float and small stabilizing floats. Performance was modest, because of its light engine. The OS2U could also operate on fixed, wheeled, tail-dragger landing gear.

ww2dbaseThe OS2U was the main shipboard observation aircraft 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, and with the US Coast Guard, the Royal Navy and the Soviet Navy. The Royal Australian Air Force also operated a few Kingfishers from shore bases.

ww2dbaseThe 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 March 1, 1938.

ww2dbaseFloatplanes on battleships and cruisers were used during bombardments to radio range and bearing data back to their ships. OS2U's from these capital ships also found their usefulness as rescue aircraft - Kingfishers from USS North Carolina (BB-55) and USS Massachusetts (BB-59) landed in Truk lagoon 1-May-1944 to rescue downed airmen. Lieutenant (jg) John Burns gave the Kingfisher near celebrity-status on this date when he and radioman Aubrey J. Gill landed their Kingfisher under fire. After picking up 7 airmen (including another OS2U crew), Burns' plane was too heavy fly and nearly too unstable to float. After a 5 hour wait, Burns taxied to submarine USS Tang (SS-306) where all 9 were rescued. Tang then sunk the plane with machine gun fire.

ww2dbaseSources: Kingfisher Goes to War by Marshall Wainwright, Wikipedia – OS2U Kingfisher.

Last Major Revision: May 2008

OS2U Kingfisher Timeline

10 May 1944 At Tulagi, USS Honolulu received aboard two OS2U Kingfisher scout planes as replacements for her SOC Seagull aircraft.


MachineryOne Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN-2 radial engine rated at 450hp
Armament2x7.62mm M1919 Browning machine guns, 295kg of bombs
Span10.95 m
Length10.31 m
Height4.61 m
Wing Area24.00 m²
Weight, Empty1,870 kg
Weight, Maximum2,721 kg
Speed, Maximum264 km/h
Service Ceiling3,960 m
Range, Normal1,296 km


1939 sketch of plans for the OS2U-1 KingfisherLine of OS2U Kingfisher float planes running up their engines prior to a practice flight at a training base in the United States, 1939-40.Wheeled version of an OS2U-2 Kingfisher being prepared for test flights at the Vought factory in Stratford, Connecticut, United States, 1940.Naval Aviation Cadets from the Naval Air Station at Corpus Christi practicing formation flying in Chance-Vought OS2U Kingfisher float aircraft, Texas, United States, circa early 1940.
See all 118 photographs of OS2U Kingfisher Seaplane

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1939 sketch of plans for the OS2U-1 Kingfisher
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