by: Bill Cross [ ]
IntroductionThe Vought OS2U Kingfisher was the standard patrol and reconnaissance float plane of the US Navy in World War Two. In addition, it served with the Royal Navy, the US Marines and even in a Lend-Lease version with the Soviet and Royal Navy. While designed to be launched from catapults on battleships and cruisers, more of the Kingfishers served in land-based patrol squadrons than in battleship and carrier groups. The float was detachable, and so conventional landing gear were used on both patrol planes and when the fleet was in port.
Now aviation guru Dana Bell has published another in the Classic Warships Publishing series of "Aircraft Pictorials," this one covering the Kingfisher. Anyone looking to build this iconic float plane should consider picking up a copy, especially in light of the release of Kitty Hawk's new 1/32nd scale plastic kit of the Kingfisher.
ContentsInside a high-quality color cover are 72 pages of photos, many in color, as well as line drawings in what looks like 1/48th scale. The organization of the book is rather casual, mostly done in chronological order from the Kingfisher's prototype state up through the end of the war.
The ReviewThe book opens with a two-page introduction covering the Kingfisher's history and camouflage. The camo part is technical, and will require some study to understand the various stages that Navy paint schemes followed in the years before the war and after it started.
The next eight pages cover the pre-war Kingfisher in its aluminized fabric configuration, followed by 14 pages of close-up photos of the engine, cockpit, and observer/gunner compartment, as well as the rear machine gun.
Beginning on p. 26 is a detailed look at the floats. The Kingfisher sported Vought-built floats and those made by The Edo Aircraft Corporation, a dedicated float maker. The wing floats differed primarily in the amount of rivets along the edges (single for EDO versions, double for Vought-made wing floats). The main floats were more distinct, and had different "beaching" gear arrays (the wheels mounted on the main float that allowed the plane to maneuver on dry land).
Page 28-29 sports color drawings showing the various battleship division markings, and pp. 30-31 show close-ups of the different "beaching gear" arrays.
Pp. 32-33 are two gorgeous color plates, followed by two pages showing how the Kingfisher was "captured" by its mother ship. Pp. 36-7 cover the various camouflage options (yellow wings, intermediate sea blue and non-specular sea blue being the most-common). After that, B&W photos of the wing control surfaces illustrates both the visible mechanism, as well as the pre-war "silver" paint scheme as well.
Pp. 40-65 include multiple B&W and color plates of Kingfishers in action, interior photos showing the cockpit and observer compartments especially, along with Kingfishers mounted on catapults and being launched from same.
Finally, the book ends with six pages of line drawings in what look to be 1/48th scale for those who want to refer back to the plans, either for scratch-building or to verify kit dimensions.
The one area modelers may find lacking in the book is the paucity of profiles and camouflage schemes. In fact, it pays to have some basic familiarity with US Navy camouflage regulations, as Bell both refers to them and assumes the reader is familiar with the various versions.
ConclusionDana Bell is recognized as a leading authority on US aircraft, and so it's appreciate that he has turned his skills to the Kingfisher. I highly recommend this book.
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