In the days before World War II the primary weapon of the world’s navies were the big guns of their battleships and cruisers. Very often the targets of these guns were out of sight or too distant for onboard observers to correct the guns’ targeting. For this purpose the capital ships of the day relied on observation aircraft that were carried onboard.

       Until the late 1930s these observation aircraft were biplanes. At this time Vought engineer Roy Beisel designed a mid-wing monoplane with a large central float and two smaller floats mounted on the wings and powered by a 450 horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-985-4 Wasp Junior radial engine. The design could also have the floats removed and have two main wheels and a tail wheel attached for conventional landings. The Kingfisher first carried company designation VS.310 and it would be accepted by the US Navy as the XOS2U-1 and was first flown on March 1, 1938.

       Serving throughout World War II onboard US Navy cruisers and battleships as an observation aircraft it also saw service in the air-sea rescue, training and sub-hunting roles. For combat, the pilot had a fixed forward firing 30 caliber machine gun and the observer had a ring mounted 30 caliber machine gun. The aircraft was capable of carrying two 100 pound bombs or two 325 pound depth charges on underwing pylons.

       The Kingfisher was also produced by the Naval Aircraft Factory as the OS2N. Between Vought and the NAF over 1,500 examples were produced serving in the US Navy and Marines, the Fleet Air Arm and the air services of Australia, Chile and Cuba.

       The kit used for this project was Monogram’s Kit # 5488 Hi-Tech 1/48 Kingfisher, which is the same kit I built back in the 1970’s with some additional photo etched parts. The decals were found on-line at www.printscale.org, decals # 48-080. I ended up buying two of these kits because the first one had malformed main wings. Luckily, I was able to find both kits at local model shows.

       The kit was built straight out of the box with little difficulty. I opted to place the observer in the back of the plane. Testor’s chrome yellow was used for the wings and for the aluminum varnish I used Tamiya Color TS-17 Gloss Aluminum in a spray can. I am not really happy with the results of using a can of spray paint to finish this model, it really came out a little too thick.

       The subject of this article is Vought OS2U-2 Kingfisher BuAer # 2193 in the spring of 1941. At this time 2193 was serving with the First Naval District with VS-2D1 at Quonset Point Rhode Island as part of an Inshore Patrol Squadron. I chose this scheme because the former Quonset Point Naval Air Station is about an hour south of my home and I have been there many times to air shows and to visit the museum.

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