Vought OS2U Kingfisher History

The OS2U Kingfisher was a product of the Vought aircraft firm, appearing initially as the VS.310 design to which the United States Navy accepted as a prototype in the XOS2U-1. The prototype would be airborne for trials by 1938 and fitted with the Pratt & Whitney R-985-4 Wasp Junior radial piston engine of 450 horsepower. After passing trials with the US Navy, the system was given the green light for full production and operational status as the OS2U "Kingfisher" series, serving as catapult launched floatplanes capable of adapting to landing on airstrips as well with some modification to the landing system.

The Kingfisher series was powered by a single engine mounted at the fuselage front. The crew of two sat in separate cockpit areas with the pilot in front, just behind the engine and the rear gunner/observer in a mid-mounted cockpit position. The aircraft was made highly identifiable by the large centerline float pontoon running nearly the length of the fuselage and extended forward of the propeller. Two additional yet smaller stabilizing floats were mounted under each wing of the low-monoplane design. Additionally, the system could be adapted to land on shore bases thanks to the interchangeable landing gear / float system.

Armament consisted of light self-defensive measures and was made up of a single forward firing fixed 7.62mm machine gun and a rear-mounted 7.62mm machine gun. The system was capable of carrying up to 650 pounds of external stores and was known to undertake a few dive bombing sorties in its time aloft. In all, the Kingfisher system served the Fleet Air Arm (as the Kingfisher Mk I series), US Navy and the Inshore Patrol Squadrons quite faithfully during its wartime tenure. A fourth variant of the Kingfisher in the form of the OS2U-4 was proposed but never evolved.

Vought OS2U Kingfisher Specification


Retired, Out-of-Service


[ 1,300 Units ]:
Vought - USA


- Navy / Maritime

- Reconnaissance (RECCE)



33.60 ft (10.24 m)


35.93 ft (10.95 m)


15.09 ft (4.6 m)


Empty Weight:

4,123 lb (1,870 kg)


6,001 lb (2,722 kg)

(Diff: +1,878lb)


1 x Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN-2 or R-985-AN-8 air-cooled engine developing 450 horsepower.


Maximum Speed:

164 mph (264 kph; 143 kts)

Service Ceiling:

12,992 feet (3,960 m; 2.46 miles)

Maximum Range:

1,150 miles (1,851 km; 999 nm)


416 ft/min (127 m/min)



1 x 7.62mm machine gun in forward fixed firing position

1 x 7.62mm machine gun in rear cockpit position


Maximum bomb load of up to 650lbs (including depth charges).


XOS2U-1 - Prototype Model Designation; fitted with Pratt & Whitney R-985-4 Wasp Junior radial piston engine at 450hp.

OS2U-1 - Initial Production Model Designation; fitted with R-985-48 engine; 54 examples produced.

OS2U-2 - Fitted with R-985-50 engine; 158 examples produced.

OS2U-3 - Production Variant appearing in quantity; fitted with R-985-An02 engine; increased fuel capacity and operational range; improved armor protection for crew cabin; 1,006 examples produced; self-sealing fuel tanks; provision for 2 x depth charges.

OS2U-4 - Proposed Improved Model with revised tailplane, wings, flaps and more powerful engine; never produced.

OS2N-1 - Based on the OS2U but production undertaken with the Naval Aircraft Factory.

Kingfisher Mk I - British Fleet Air Arm Designation for the OS2U-3 model series selected by 1941; seen in trainer and catapult launched scout forms.

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