First flown in late 1938, the Vought OS2U Kingfisher was an American catapult-launched observation floatplane with a large central float and two smaller wingtip stabilising floats.

With an expanding naval task force, the United States Navy were keen to develop an easily launched and retrieved catapult observation float plane they could use for a wide variety of tasks from scouting enemy shipping and directing battleship fire to air-sea rescue and even shore bombardment.

For the Vought designers, it was the first production aircraft to be assembled with spot welding, a process Vought and the Naval Aircraft Factory jointly developed to create a smooth fuselage that resisted buckling and generated less drag. It was to be a become a popular manufacturing process throughout the war and was used to great effect with the USN’s highly successful carrier launched fighter, the Vought F4U Corsair.

Powered by a single, Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN2 Wasp Junior 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, at just 450 hp the Kingfisher was by no means a fast aircraft but it's relatively light weight yet robust airframe and reinforced mid-shoulder wings made it extremely versatile and able to handle a wide variety of sea and air conditions.

Armed with a pilot operated 30-caliber Browning M1919 machine gun and another 30 caliber gun manned by the aircraft's radio operator/gunner the Kingfisher could also carry two 100 lb bombs or two 325 lb depth charges.


By the close of the war, over 1,519 of the aircraft had been built by the Vought factory and the Kingfisher served on battleships and cruisers of the US Navy as well as the US Marine Corps, the US Coast Guard at coastal air stations, at sea with the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy, and with the Soviet Navy. The RAAF also operated Kingfishers from shore bases.

Two examples showing the plane’s rescue capabilities include the recovery of World War I ace Eddie Rickenbacker and his crew from the Pacific in November 1942 and Lieutenant John A. Burns’ unique use of the aircraft on 30 April 1944 to taxi downed airmen rescued from attacks on Japanese shipping at Truk Lagoon to the US submarine Tang, waiting off a nearby atoll on rescue duty. 

Australia received 18 Kingfishers from a batch of aircraft ordered by the Dutch East Indies that was diverted to Australia in 1942. They were initially used as training aircraft for pilots destined for flying boats, but in 1943, they were used to equip No. 107 Squadron RAAF, which carried out convoy escort duties until disbanded in October 1945.

No. 107 Squadron began conducting anti-submarine and convoy escort patrols. Detachments of Consolidated PBY Catalinas from No. 11 Squadron and No. 20 Squadron were briefly attached to the squadron during June and September–October 1943.

No. 107 Squadron's patrols were intensified after the German submarine U-862 sank the American Liberty Ship Robert J. Walker off Moruya on 25 December 1944. The squadron flew five sorties a day for the next week in search of the submarine responsible and on the 29th December one of the squadron’s Kingfishers attacked what its pilot believed was a submarine periscope near the point at which Robert J. Walker had been sunk.

However, by this time U-862 was in the Tasman Sea near New Zealand. This was the only deliberate attack made by a RAAF Kingfisher during the war.

All Vought OS2U Kingfisher Instruments listed below come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.



    Rare, vintage USN Vought OS2U Kingfisher Float Plane, fully functioning...


    BU Aero USN Mk V, Vought OS2U Kingfisher, RPM gauge