Vought SB2U Vindicator Dive Bomber Aircraft
The Vought SB2U Vindicator was obsolete by the time of America's involvement in World War 2 and relegated to training elements by 1943.
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The Vought SB2U "Vindicator" became the first monoplane dive bomber adopted by the United States Navy when it was first taken on in 1937 - signaling a "changing of the guard" over outgoing biplane types. Despite the Vindicator's more advanced design, the aircraft itself was regarded as obsolete by the time of the American involvement in World War 2 (1939-1945) come 1942 and, as such, the Vought product was only used in a frontline role up to 1943 to which then it was relegated to training squadrons. Some 260 of the type were produced in all and these saw service with the USN, the United States Marine Corps (USMC), the French Navy and the British Royal Navy (Fleet Air Arm).
The Vindicator was born through a 1934 USN requirement calling for a new carrier-based bomb delivery platform in either monoplane or biplane form - the latter used as a failsafe should the more advanced monoplane offering fail in development. The Vought submission, becoming "XSB2U-1" (XSB3U was the biplane prototype) faced off against competing submissions from Brewster, Curtiss, Great Lakes Aircraft Company, Grumman and Northrop with the Brewster, Curtiss, Northrop and Vought forms earning production contracts. The Brewster model would become the Naval Aircraft Factory SBN while the Curtiss model became the storied "Helldiver". Northrop's design evolved to become the Northrop BT.
The Vought XSB2U-1 product was given a conventional monoplane arrangement of the period with a tubular fuselage (housing the long cockpit under a greenhouse-style canopy), low-mounted metal mainplanes and an empennage consisting of a single, large-area vertical tail fin with low-set horizontal tailplanes. Power was served through a single Pratt & Whitney R1535 "Twin Wasp Junior" driving a two-bladed propeller at a fixed speed. The crew numbered two and were seated back-to-back in tandem with the pilot at front and his tail gunner aft. The undercarriage was typical for the time with two single-wheeled main legs (retractable) under the main wings and a tail wheel at rear (the tail wheel did not retract). Primary armament was just a single 0.30 caliber M1919 Browning machine gun in the right wing and a similar installation in a flexible mount for the rear gunner. The Bombload was limited to a single 500lb or 1,000lb bomb under fuselage centerline.
The XSB2U-1 prototype was ordered on October 15th, 1934 and a first flight was recorded on January 4th, 1936. In July of that year, the design was formally accepted for trials by the USN and the prototype crashed the following month. Nevertheless, continued evaluation revealed a promising design and the aircraft was introduced by the USN as the SB2U "Vindicator" in 1937.