Vought OS2U Kingfisher Shipborne Reconnaissance / Scout Floatplane
Though an American product, the Vought OS2U Kingfisher series served in quantity with the ranks of the British Fleet Air Arm.
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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.