The Vought OS2U Kingfisher was an observation floatplane that first flew in 1938. It was designed to be catapult-launched, but could also operate using fixed or wheeled landing gear, and was generally considered to be underpowered despite it being the primary shipboard observation aircraft of the USN. Power was supplied by a single 450hp Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN-2 radial engine.
Designed by Rec Beisel, the Kingfisher was the first ever aircraft to be assembled using the new spot-welding technique that was designed to reduce airframe drag due to the resultant smooth surface. The airframe was designed with a number of unique and unusual lift-creating features such as spoilers and drooped ailerons, assisting the relatively slow take-off speed of this type of aircraft.
Defensive armament was provided by the installation of two .30 caliber machine guns. One of these was installed on a flexible mount in the rear cockpit, and the other was fixed and forward firing. Bombs and depth charges could also be carried underneath the wings.
The type gradually began to be phased out towards the end of WWII, with the last seeing service in Cuba in 1959. When production stopped, over 1500 of all variants had been built.