The Vought OS2U Kingfisher


From the original to the model

An independent part of the collections of the Aviation Museum Hannover-Laatzen are the more than 1,000 scale models, mainly of the international standards 1/72 and 1/48.

Such true-to-the-original miniatures enable viewers of museum technology history to get an "overview", not only of the individual exhibit (sometimes even as the only possibility of a three-dimensional display if there is no longer a preserved original), but also of lines of development in aircraft construction by means of the possible arrangement and juxtaposition here; sometimes they even close gaps in the presentation of the originals. Their craftsmanship alone is a pleasure to behold.

In our 'Model of the Month' series, today we present the Vought OS2U Kingfisher, the first monoplane catapult aircraft of the US Navy and one of the best multi-role naval aircraft in aviation history.

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The model: Back and forth across the sea

Released by US manufacturer mpc from the original 1967 Airfix mold in the 1980s, this was a thoughtful and accurate-fitting, in short, a beautiful 1/72 kit with 65 parts and a choice between a colorful pre-war undercarriage version and the WWII central float version. We built our kit from the large antiquarian collection of the Hannover Aviation Museum.

The original: multi-purpose, worldwide

Designed in 1937, the prototype of this two-seat, multi-role naval aircraft flew in July 1938 with the first production aircraft reaching U.S. Navy task forces two years later. The first American catapult aircraft of monoplane design, it was produced with wheeled landing gear in addition to the main floatplane version, and operated from both afloat units and coastal airfields - as a reconnaissance aircraft, fleet observer and light bomber, as a maritime rescue aircraft, for coastal patrol and for special missions. "Girl Friday" was the word.

A total of more than 1,800 were built in four main versions; the "Kingfisher" was the most widely used catapult aircraft on U.S. cruisers and battleships in the

A total of just over 1,800 were built in four main versions; the "Kingfisher" was the most widely used catapult aircraft on U.S. cruisers and battleships in World War II and was found worldwide, but mostly in the Pacific. The British Royal Navy received about 100 aircraft designated as "Kingfisher Mk I" in 1942 as part of its weapons assistance.

Compact and stable

The OS2U was powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-985-SB3 Wasp Junior radial engine of 450 hp, which gave the aircraft a maximum speed of 274 km/h with a wingspan of 10.95 m, a length of 10.25 m and a takeoff weight of 2,722 kg. Its operational range was 1,850 km. It was armed with a fixed machine gun in the right wing and a movable machine gun for the observer, both of 7.62mm caliber, as well as operational bomb locks under the wings for 2 bombs or depth charges. Like all naval aircraft of compact and sturdy construction, it successfully withstood rough seas as well as enemy fire - and was thus correspondingly popular with its crews.

The Kingfisher was held in even greater esteem by all those airmen shot down or killed in accidents who were rescued by this aircraft and its crew, and is thus remembered not only as the "eye of the fleet" but also as a lifesaver for the U.S. Navy.  


Kingfisher a

The OS2U Kingfisher with central and support floats from mpc in 1/72.

Kingfisher b

The canopies were usually partially open even in flight - in the event of an emergency, this ensured quick disembarkation...

Kingfisher c

To move the float version on land, running wheels were mounted - not to be confused with the real landing gear of the land-based version.

Kingfisher d

Robust and stocky, yet purposefully constructed and thoroughly well-proportioned: the Kingfisher ("Kingfisher") was a successful design.

Kingfisher e

Bottom view of the OS2U with drop weapons - the type also proved itself in armed reconnaissance and as a jamming aircraft.

Kingfisher f

Sea water and sunlight affected the paintwork and made frequent touch-ups necessary. Note the flexible MG under the canopy parts that slide open in opposite directions.